Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre(s): Action Adventure
Mode(s): Singe player
Time clocked: Definitely less than 12 hours according to the Speed Demon achievement
To start, I had mixed feelings over 2003’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (for the Playstation 2). For one, I absolutely loved running around and bouncing off walls and performing some serious parkour. But the fighting/battle system was terribly unforgiving despite the time mechanic which allowed players to rewind scenarios if they didn’t play out like they wanted. When I’d enter a room full of baddies, I’d groan, and the only way to hear happy noises from me was to get out of said room so that I could run around. But these memories were enough for me to steer clear of the next iterations in the series, which I’m glad I did because I’ve only ever seen them described as gothy and emo. Hmm…
But then the series got a reboot. A colorful one, at that! Prince of Persia for the Xbox 360 tells a typical story: boy meets girl, girl needs saving from overpowering god of darkness, boy saves girl but not without sacrifice. More specifically, the Prince and Elika must travel to a bunch of lands within her kingdom and heal them to keep Ahriman trapped within a giant tree.
While the plot itself is fairly yawn-yawn, the dialogue is a treat, as is Prince of Persia‘s utter lack of interest in spoon-feeding the player. At any point during gameplay, a player can push a button to have the Prince speak with Elika. What spews from their mouths depends on where they are and/or what just happened, and it helps to make both characters fun and engaging. You’ll really feel like they have a tag-team relationship going on by the game’s end.
Graphically, the game is gorgeous. The corrupted lands are bleak and dirty, ragged with oozes and chipped stone, but once they have been healed a wash of color spreads and we’re treated to a lush, vibrant playground. Some might not like cel-shading in this day and age, but I think it has the potential to be even more amazing than photo-realistic games like, say, Final Fantasy XIII or Gears of War.
Unfortunately, not all is bells and whistles. If Prince of Persia is to have a fault, it is in its repetition. The balance of acrobatics, combat, and puzzle-solving is just that: a balance. You will run and climb your way to the corrupted land (acrobatics), possibly solve a riddle (puzzle-solving) to get you to the next level…where you will fight a mini boss (combat). Rinse and repeat. There is little variety, especially when the mini bosses all have a pattern to them. After the lands are healed you can spend time hunting down balls of light, but you really only need to find 600 or so to complete the game, and I don’t I’ll go back and find all 1,001 of them.
Achievement-wise, Prince of Persia seems fairly forgiving, especially since you can’t die (more on that in a second). I unlocked 35 out of 60 on my first playthrough, none of which required too much skill. A majority of story progression-based, some involved special tactics against the mini bossess, others were more about collecting. My favorites were Improvisor (10G: Congratulations, you used the environment to your advantage.) and Precious Time (10G: Congratulations, you know when to stop.).
That said, I will never achieve Be Gentle With Her (100G: Elika saves you fewer than 100 times in the whole game.). Technically, the Prince can’t die…but I died a lot in this game. Missed jumps, timing off, QTE jitters. I’m pretty sure Elika saved me at least 500 times or more. A moot point, but I’m a little put off by the fact that the achievements all use the same picture and word “Congratulations”…feels a bit robotic if you ask me.
In the end, the reboot works though. It’s a much more colorful and lively game thanks to the graphics and voice acting, even if it gets stale rather quickly. A little more variety would’ve been nice especially since it was billed as having “open-world gameplay,” but for $20.00, I had a good time. You might, too.