Prince of Persia - PS3 - Review
Reinventing a franchise is no easy task, let alone one that has been as critically and commercially viable as Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia series. The Sands of Time Trilogy ran during the previous generation of consoles and represented some of the best games on any system, and now the developers at Ubisoft Montreal are looking to repeat that success with a brand new series, beginning with the simply named Prince of Persia.
Prince of Persia does away with the time manipulation element popularized in the Sands of Time trilogy in favor of a variety of brand new elements, like an open world that you can explore in whatever order you want to. Platforming has been simplified, as you now only need to jump at a wall to run along it or grab a wall to bound up to a ledge. You can even run across the ceiling in short bursts. Combat has also been improved and focused, and you now get a cool new sidekick, Elika, to help you on your journey. All in all the game is a fine addition to the series and a great reinvention for the beloved series.
The game’s storyline has you and Elika, a princess with magical abilities trying to save her kingdom from the corruption of an evil god after her father attempted to free him. You must go through the kingdom, removing all of the corruption and defeating the evil god’s minions in order to heal the land and keep the him imprisoned.
Structurally, the game is actually quite simple. You enter each new area, solving a variety of platform jumping puzzles and working your way towards the Fertile Ground in each section. After you get there (and after fighting some incarnation of one of the game’s four boss characters), you’ll be able to use Elika to heal the land, cleansing it of corruption and scattering 45 light seeds throughout the area. Once you collect enough light seeds, you’ll be able to head to the central hub at the Temple and unlock new plate powers for Elika which will then allow you to access new areas on the map.
Prince of Persia features an open world while at the same time featuring some linear elements to pull you through certain sections; think of Mega Man’s boss structure as a rough idea of how the game feels. You’ll be able to choose your own path through the game’s areas, selecting which power you’d like to start off with in order to access whichever parts of the map you want to begin with. There is no wrong way to go, and you won’t end up missing any plot elements by taking a certain path.
Your constant companion, Elika, fits the role of several different gameplay mechanics that action fans will undoubtedly already be quite familiar with. Elika allows you to perform special magic attacks during combat, helps you double jump by giving you a toss across long distances, and saves you in the heat of battle or whenever you take a bad leap off of an edge. While these elements have been done in previous action titles, Elika brings a new element to the formula by being a third party, a face and name to attach to the device. As you speak to her throughout the game, you’ll uncover new story elements about the character, and begin to really care for her, something that most other games, excluding classics like Ico, have even come close to achieving.
Combat is another area where the game works differently from other Prince of Persia games. Whereas titles within the Sands of Time trilogy would have you fighting off several enemies at once, the combat in Prince of Persia is a strictly one-on-one affair (or two-on-one, I guess, if you count Elika). As combat is a lot more focused this time around, you’ll have more robust combos in your repertoire, allowing you to pull of some pretty sick moves. Each face button corresponds to a different type of attack, with the square button controlling your sword attacks, X button controlling acrobatic moves, circle controlling throw attacks with your gauntlet, and triangle button controlling magical attacks courtesy of Elika. At certain times, enemies will enter a guard mode where only a certain type of attack will work on enemies, requiring you to break their guard with the attack before laying into them with a combo.
The combat feels pretty fluid and handles very intuitively, expect for a few hitches here and there. When fighting against enemies, they’ll often default to using the guard mode that keeps you from using any attack but a gauntlet attack. Unfortunately, you’ll have you get real close in order to pull the move off, which often leaves you susceptible to attacks as you try to perform your gauntlet move. This is a pretty frustrating occurrence, and it happens often during combat.
Additionally, the game’s combat sequences rely a bit too much on the same quick time events throughout. You’ll have to perform them a lot when you fight, which gets repetitive after a while.
Graphically, Prince of Persia is a fantastic looking game. The character models look great, sporting a pseudo-cel shaded look that manages to look stylized and detailed at the same time. The environments are also very well designed, with great lighting effects in both the healed areas and the corrupted ones. The animations are very nicely done, switching dynamically depending on the time of move you’re doing and looking fluid throughout.
The sound is also very well done. The voice acting is great and combines the right amount of humor and personality to the characters, and the sound effects are also quite clean. The score also sounds great and adds a very nice quality to the game’s theme. Unfortunately, there were a few instances of the music cutting out during some moments of play.
Prince of Persia is a great experience that no action fan will want to be without. While there are a few minor issues with combat, this is sure to be the last great game of the year.
Review Scoring Details for Prince of Persia
While there are a couple hitches in combat, the most of the fighting is very intuitive. The easy to grasp platforming elements are smooth and comfortable and the environments are very well executed. Elika is quite possibly one of the best AI supporting characters yet implemented into a game.
The game’s graphical style is fantastic, with a vibrant color scheme and excellently designed and rendered characters. The animations are also done very well, transitioning seamlessly between actions without an interruption in the game’s flow.
While there are some technical glitches with the game’s score, the voice work is great and the sound effects are pretty sharp.
The game’s story is compelling and the new gameplay is great if a bit on the simple side, but the characters really go the extra mile to keep you invested in the journey.
Prince of Persia succeeds in being not only a fine entry to the series, but also a fantastic new direction for the series this console generation and one of the most compelling titles you’ll find this year.