Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

March 24, 2004

[floatleft][/floatleft]Price of Persia has been out quite some time now and it saddens me that I haven’t been able to fully focus a large chunk of time on this game. If I had to summarize this entire review in a single word it would be “Wow”. PoP is THAT good. PoP has undergone many revisions from its days back on the PC long before many of you were playing games to the Genesis, SNES, the Game Boy Color, and finally to the Xbox. Having never played any of the previous versions, I can’t tell you how true to the original the newest version is, but what I can tell you is that it is a game everyone should have as a part of their library.

If I get off track and starting ranting about how great this game is, you will have to forgive me because it is one of the rare titles that will blow away any expectations you may have about the game. From my perspective, Ubi Soft really shows that a simple mixture of some excellently prepared elements can produce a game beyond its time. Let me explain those elements to you now.

When you first start playing PoP, you will no doubt have to lift your jaw off the floor because the graphics engine is beyond description. The light and airy feel of the surrounding environments lends itself well to the fantasy world that has been constructed. These environments seem to be perfectly rendered with immense detail that doesn’t diminish with camera movements. There is no doubt in my mind that PoP is the most beautiful game that I have seen to date.

[floatright][/floatright]To compliment the graphical perfection of Pop, Ubi Soft decided to mix in a set of controls that must have been divinely inspired. Every button seems to have been intuitively designed w/ gameplay in mind. Everything from performing wall runs to scaling a wall and ending in a backflip off of a carefully placed bar were performed with ease. The controls end themselves nicely to performing wonderfully acrobatic fighting moves of many varieties.

The combat system is another thing that was flawless in its execution. The way the Prince transitions from attack to attack really added a sense of realism to the fighting. It was about the closest thing to a completely liquid fighting system that I can recall seeing in a game to date.

The thing that really makes this game unique is your ability to rewind time should you fall and die or get yourself in a tough situation while fighting some enemies. Simply pulling the left trigger will rewind time for as long as you hold down the trigger until the meter runs out. The way this works is you have a meter in the top left of the screen. As you kill enemies, you use your dagger to capture the sand “in” them and in various places throughout the levels. This sand fills up the meter and when full, results in the ability to rewind time. You can fill up the meter multiple times before it is full so you can rewind a few times before a full refill is needed. Your meter increases in size as the game goes on. Above this initial meter is a smaller meter that determines how long you may rewind time. Hold the trigger down and time rewinds as the meter goes down. Let go of the trigger and the meter starts to fill back up. Very simple. The way you capture the sand is luidly integrated as a move in the combat system.

You are also able to use your dagger as a weapon. The dagger contains special powers that make fighting a large number of enemies a little easier. The dagger can slow down time and even freeze an enemy in stone for easy disposal. Additional powers are unlocked as the game progresses.

[floatleft][/floatleft]To make the game a little bit easier, you are given very frequent save points which you should utilize. There was more than one occasion where I had to go back to a previous save point and redo a small chunk of the level because I was almost dead at a very unfortunate place. These save points are also the places where you are given hints on how to complete the next portion of the level in the form of a “vision”. The visions show you enough of the next section so that you can figure out the room, but not enough that you feel like you are using a strategy guide.

Overall, I was pretty surprised that Ubi was able to create a superb blend of jaw dropping graphics and wonderful gameplay. Typically, one is sacrificed for the other and rarely do we get a game that is so fantastic in both areas. In addition to that feat, they managed to keep the controls simple and functional which creates a wonderful gaming experience.

Prince of Persia is not only one of the best looking games out on the Xbox, but it is a real enjoyment to play. I think I have said all that I need to say about the game so far. I do want to mention that the game is a tad bit short so if that makes you a little nervous you may want to rent it. From there you can make up your mind if it belongs in your library or not after you spend some time with it.

Score: 5/5

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