2003’s critically acclaimed Sands of Time trilogy breathed new life into classic 1990s game Prince of Persia. But now Ubisoft has taken a very different approach to the much-loved franchise, introducing a completely new setting, reverting the combat back to one-on-one duels and seriously overhauling the graphics for the new generation of consoles. I can honestly say that this is one of the prettiest games I’ve seen in a long time. Unfortunately, the rest of the package is sadly lacking. Let me explain...
After inadvertently unleashing a demon in the opening level, the player is thrust into a series of acrobatics to reach holy ground occupied by a big boss. Battle ensues and the boss must be defeated through a repetitive and frustrating series of combos and button press sequences. Eventually the boss runs off and the level is transformed into a colourful collect-a-thon. Repeat this six times per boss and you have the core gameplay of Prince of Persia.
The gameplay’s much-hyped “free-roaming travel” is surprisingly linear. Often your only involvement is to choose which branch of the level to follow and then press the appropriate button when the visual cue for that action shows up. While the first four levels are highly original, it doesn’t take long until repetitive and annoying puzzles become the norm.
In another very strange decision by the game’s developers, any real sense of danger or risk has been eliminated from the gameplay. You see, your female companion Elika provides an endless supply of last second saves – rescuing you both in combat or when you tumble into one of the many bottomless pits or pools of toxic liquid that are commonplace in the game. This saviour role also makes Elika feel less like a love interest and more like a piece of equipment.
I can’t really recommend buying this game. However, I can recommend using its screenshots for a screensaver because, honestly, good looks are pretty much all that Prince of Persia has going for it.