Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm a Jumper Not a Fighter

Game: Prince of Persia

System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Release: December 2008

Prince of Persia is a franchise that dates back to 1989. A successful reboot of the series was accomplished by Ubisoft in 2003 with Sands of Time. That fantastic game is one of the best experiences available on the original Xbox, and Ubisoft has been attempting to capture that magic with a slew of crappy sequels.
Each Prince of Persia has the same set up. The main character is a prince with amazing acrobatic abilities. This triple AAA protagonist always seems to find himself in deadly scenarios that may or may not involve a female side kick, time manipulation, and magical villains. He will generally jump, skip, and stab his way through each adventure. The plot will either be brilliant yet generic or simply ridiculous.

The 2008 Prince of Persia (there has been a more recent release and movie earlier this year) attempts to reboot the series once more. The Prince finds himself lost in a desert. Surprise surprise a damsel in distress appears named Elika. He rescues her from some attackers, and discovers that she has magical powers. Elika pleads her case and seeks aide in restoring her kingdom that has been taken over by “the corruption.” A handful of jumps, skips, and stabs later the game ends.

I could go on about the crappy plot. How you never really care about anything, and just push on to jump and skip (stabbing is boring) to the next piece of beautiful landscape. Or how Elika shows a range of emotion akin to a fourteen year old drama queen. Or how I have never seen anything remotely close to Persian culture in regards to the characters. I could go on about all that, but that would just be silly.

Gameplay is where the fun is for Prince of Persia. Like Sands of Time the Prince performs a variety of acrobatic moves to navigate through deadly traps. Instead of time manipulation Elika provides a magical safety net to ensure the Prince never dies. This allows players to continue playing. A novel concept for video games. The designers knew that people would fail to make a particular jump so they put in a system to instantly warp them to a checkpoint. No load screens is a huge plus for any game, but especially for a tittle that is dependent on a smooth constant tempo.

Level design is what I would expect from the franchise. The Prince goes up. He goes down. He slides, dives, wall runs, and swings his way about. The graphical presentation is eye popping in a gorgeous cell shaded style. Levels are a bit more repetitive then other Prince of Persia games because of the overall path design. Players can go to any area from the start, which results in a bland difficulty curve. Rising action/challenge would have suited this game better.

Combat is not the strongest point for any Prince of Persia game, and the 2008 addition manages to be even more bland then past releases. You cannot die so no enemy is ever threatening. The combos are entertaining at first, but get old fast. Low level enemies have too little health, and boss fights drag on too long. Fighting is the most boring aspect of this game. Hardcore fans of the hack/slash genre are sure to be disappointed.
Prince of Persia is not a bad game, but does fall under that “Thank Goodness for Gamefly” category. Fans of the series and platforming will enjoy another adventure with the prince of jumps, skips, and stabs--even if the stabs are lackluster. Combat is boring, and the story stinks. Yet the presentations is stylistic and beautiful. The pacing is excellent thanks to the absence of load screens, and exploring this fantasy world is it’s own reward. Snerts Snazzy Score grants the 2008 Prince of Persia a 3.5 out of 5.

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