Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands Review
|Release Date:||May 21st, 2010 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
I've always been a fan of the Prince of Persia games, all the way back to the early days of Sands of Time (the Amiga games were before my time.)
Despite a small mis-step - the last Prince of Persia, which swapped the Prince for a new guy, ignored timelines, story and added cel-shading, much to my chagrin - the series has always been great, swashbuckling adventures through fate and myth, with a clever plotline thrown in for good measure.
So we come to the Forgotten Sands, a throwback to the Sand's of Time, and while it's nice to see the Prince get back to his time-bending roots, there's little innovation or improvement on the previous titles.
Set sometime between The Sands of Time and Warrior Within, Forgotten Sands sees the Prince visiting his brother for a little warrior training and instruction in the art of war. Picking up with a scene eerily reminiscent of Sands of Time - the Prince sneaking into a fortress under siege - and things quickly go to Hell. The Prince's reckless brother unleashes an accursed army, leaving the Prince to put the demons back in their box.
If this sounds like this has been done before, that's because it has. In fact, the entire game is basically a re-make of Sands of Time, with a few new powers put in and a lot of Warrior Within's combat taken out, and is a bit of a disappoint to Prince fans like myself, despite being a pretty good game in its own right.
The Prince himself is still as agile as the previous titles, and even before acquiring the time-bending powers he's known for he is more than capable of running up and over walls, clinging to pillars and outwitting the hugely elaborate traps which every single Persian fortress seems to be filled with (Laurence Llewelyn Bowen would not approve.)
Once the enemy are unleashed the Prince again acquires his time-bending powers, which include the ability to rewind time (and undo your mistakes) and freeze it too.
While this is a familiar system to experience Prince players, the powers are well executed, and rather than running out of sand right up to the point you died, forcing you to re-load the game or face an eternity of repeated mistakes, the game instead always rewinds you back to a safe point, saving all the angst.
This time around the Prince also gains the ability to affect the elements, through a helping hand from some mystical beings. This gives the young warrior powers over water, ice and fire - pyrotechnic powers are at your fingertips for combat.
The more interesting power is the ability to freeze water, turning waterfalls and fountains into climbable obstacles. This makes some of the myriad puzzles really good fun, as the freezing effect is very short-lived and you have to freeze and unfreeze the water as you go - and jumping from a frozen pillar of water then crashing through a waterfall you've unfrozen in mid-air is great fun.
The powers are also put to use in the combat which, while passable, seems to be totally reliant on the powers and less on the Prince's legendary agility.
Unlike Two Thrones and Warrior Within, Forgotten Sands restricts the Prince to one weapon only, and the agility the previous games used to make the combat so enjoyable is totally absent.
Where as in the previous game it was easy to fend off hordes of enemies by using your agility and ability to pick up discarded swords on the fly, this time around the Prince only has a set repertoire of moves, some of which are only unlockable through the experience tree. The enemies he faces are also pretty repetitive, and while some of the boss battles are epic in scale, they often come down to mashing the power button time and time again.
This leaves the constant battles hollow and dull, totally lacking the fast-paced combat the dual-wielding Prince could call to force, despite the new ability to flash-freeze a room full of enemies. In fact, the powers are so all-encompassing that the game is often too easy, and it's a real drag to be faced with yet another simple fight against sand wraiths who are effortlessly offed with one powerful spell.
The familiar sarcastic voice actor for the Prince is back in the act however, and the Prince's humorous comments bring the game to life. The score for the game is also brilliantly done, combining rock tunes with Persian flutes for the combat, and quieter numbers for the frequent puzzle sections.
Graphically the game makes good use of the Xbox hardware, with special mention going to the water effects and the sunsets, which are well worth a pause in the battle to admire. The aesthetic designs of the Persian palaces are also brilliant, containing everything from stables to massive indoor gardens, all of which look decent and are textured well. Up close a few of the graphical bugs can come to the fore, such as defeated enemies getting stuck in objects, but on the whole it's pretty solid.
That said, the camera is an unruly beast and is often slaved to one corner of the room, reducing the angles you can see your route with. The free camera isn't much better, habitually having to be controlled minutely to make your jumps go in the right direction, especially some of the trickier pillar-post-frozen waterfall sequences.
All in all, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is a decent, if uninspiring platformer with all the charm of The Sands of Time, a third of Warrior Within's combat and a plot that will seem eerily familiar to fans of the series. Whilst not a big step forward for the Prince, the game is still worth a look. But don't expect anything too groundbreaking, even with the Prince's new powers over nature.
- A return to the Prince's platforming roots
- Good (if predictable) plot
- Good graphics
Not so good stuff
- Repetitive and boring combat
- Over-powered abilities
- Dodgy camera