2008 saw Ubisoft reboot their long running and successful Prince of Persia franchise with a new prince and a new setting. Although a great game in my opinion with a fantastic art style, it was lacking somewhat when it came to the combat.
2010 brings us Ubisoft’s latest telling of the Prince, who this time has returned to his Kingdom only to find it under siege by an overpowering army, throwing you right into the action with the expected mixture of 3D platforming and good old swordplay. The story may not be the most original with its Good Vs Evil power struggle, but it does its job and keeps the game paced well with some admirable voice acting. The Prince in particular is his usual cocky and overconfident self, but does so without being obnoxious.
To start, lets focus on what has always made Prince of Persia games great, the platforming. All of the staple actions return including wall running, swinging on bars and naturally avoiding a whole host of traps on the way. It seems Ubisoft have really nailed level design when it comes to challenging your thinking and dexterity, taking learning’s away from the Assassin Creed 2’s tomb sections and expanding on them. I’ve never before seen one environment change so much during a platforming sequence to continue to add complexity and keep the prince progressing while not having to load a new environment.
Things can get a little crazy as the game progresses and the Prince unlocks new magical abilities thanks to the last remaining Jin in the city, starting you off with the ability to freeze water in place. Once this option is toggled the Prince is able to use water spurts to leap onto or swing across, while running across frozen waterfalls and leaping from column to column. Towards the end, the Prince is also able to change the formation of his environments, allowing long gone platforms and columns to become solid again. Again the level design compliments these new gameplay elements and will really challenge the players perception.
Once a new ability is unlocked through the story, the Prince will be given a number of easy to understand obstacles which help teach the player how to use these correctly. These sequences are invaluable as towards the end of the game the player will be expected to use all of these abilities on the run up to the games final battle.
The only downside to the platforming would be the controls, although Ubisoft have implemented these to the best of their abilities, there are times when the animation of the prince would indicate his next jump will be successful, but result in a long drop to his death. We do however see a return of a rewind time ability, which although limited the average players will use a lot.
The platforming is broken up like all Prince of Persia games with combat. Where the 2008 outing saw the Prince taking on single foes, this is a return to form with kill rooms of up to 20-30 enemies ranging from soldiers and sand creatures up to mini boss golems and giants. The Prince is equipped with a trusty sword, a knockdown kick and an evade action when things get a little too hairy. Some enemies require more than just button mashing and a combination of all of the above. The Prince is also able to use one of four combat abilities, such as a whirlwind or fire trail, but as this uses up a mana slot (also used for rewinding time), players soon find that the standard attack is sufficient for almost all situations. Combat does however yield experience for the prince, which in turn can be used to develop his abilities as the player sees fit. These range from additional sword or kick damage to an increased health bar or improved time rewinding ability.
Once the story is completed the player is able to play the challenge mode, this is a single killroom with 8 waves of varying and increasingly difficult enemies. A great place to continue to rack up experience outside of the story in the attempt to max all of your skills out. Although your time is registered allowing you to replay to beat this, the game would have benefited from additional levels of complexity and perhaps throw some platforming challenges in there.
Overall, I really enjoyed this game, the feeling of accomplishment once I had finally managed to bend my fingers around the controller to achieve what at first seems impossible is second to non. I just wanted more, which lets face it, is never a bad thing.
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platform: Xbox 360 (Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, Windows, Nintendo DS, PSP) Release Date: 20/05/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of ten days on an Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.