22nd May 2010 - Many series fans would gladly walk over the shallow grave of the 2008 Prince reboot, so with the series next instalment, there was undoubtedly going to be some sour looks and a lot of caution before anyone jumps into the game. But given the game is made by those who developed the original Sands of Time back in 2003, hope was again in the air. Read on to find out if the caution was well placed with this latest Prince instalment or the shimmers of hope were the ones to put your faith into.
Jaw dropping sword play and gravity defying stunts galore in the Princes latest adventure, as he travels to a contested city at the edge of his fathers empire. With the plan to arrive to his brothers’ good will and learn the ways of war and how to be a good leader, the prince arrives as the city is in ruins from an on going siege from a warring nation. To turn up the heat a little, the Princes brother is about to unleash the mythological army of King Solomon, but little do they know, doing this is about to make things go from bad to worse. It’s a classic Prince Style tale and story telling, bringing the series back to the type of adventure we all loved from the original trilogy.
Put straight into the action after a beautiful starting cut scene, the game will feel immediately familiar to any who have played any Prince game before, yet will still be very easily picked up by newcomers. And rest assured there will be new comers to this game. Where the original Prince trilogy excelled in graphic violence (Warrior within especially!), Forgotten Sands has gone a similar way to the 2008 reboot, and ridded the blood and gore of the game in turn for a PG rating. This is where new comers and a younger audience will be easily persuaded to try the game, but also the reason a lot of long-time Prince Fans won’t be so eager to try it out.
And its unfortunate series fans won’t be so eager to try it out, because at its core, Forgotten Sands is as close to Sands of Time as any other game in the series. That’s right, Forgotten Sands brings back the deep acrobatic gameplay of the original in more velocity than any of the other games in the series managed to do. It’s all high flying action over roof-tops, across the city and down forgotten tombs as the Prince tries to put a stop to what could potentially be a world threatening situation.
But it’s also unfortunate that while the adventure and puzzle-solving mechanics of the game rival those of the original, the action and fighting mechanics fail to uphold the glory. This comes hand-in-hand with the down tuning of the violence in a way, and its sad to see the new features don’t give anything more to make the combat deeper or more enjoyable. That is, apart from the way you are now pitted against far more enemies than even before. Battles can rage up to about 50 individual enemies at any one time, and it makes some of the more intense battle later on very engaging.
To add some more flavour to the mix of things, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands throws in some elemental control mechanics. This differentiates it from the other games and adds a lot of ways to overcome the many encounters you will face. But for the combat, the few different powers you have access to aren’t very much fun. They take things away from the Prince formula of combat, and it’s a bit of a downfall for us series fans. However, this is another particular thing which will appeal to newcomers to the series, for its more stylized to modern adventure games which incorporate magical powers. For adventuring though, the Prince has a few nifty elemental tricks like the power to make water solid and to bring back set pieces from the past, and while these don’t add enjoyment in the combat side of things, they really send the acrobatic and adventuring prowess to new heights, meaning this Prince of Persia is far more stylized to the older instalments then the newer one and this is what will please die-hard Prince fans.
Yet another point of interest within this latest Prince instalment is the graphics. Again moving on, Forgotten Sands hasn’t kept on with the last Prince’s concept-art look, instead going back to what we’ve all come to expect from most games these days; mediocre ‘realistic’ graphics which don’t amaze nor disappoint. The textures and environmental effects are all top-notch and all the animation of the Prince looks and feels real, and as to set itself aside from other adventure games, the parkour animation has been toned down to look realistic rather than over-the-top and speedy.
As the entire game is set in a sandy Persian city, the set pieces and environment can get very old, but the game keeps things fresh by continuously taking you somewhere new. From roof-tops to towers, and throne rooms to deep tombs, there are no shortage of massive set pieces and unique chambers to explore.
One of the things I was most disappointed in personally was the shortage of gore. I loved the old Prince games for their grand displays of violence and cunning stunts in which all met enemies with untimely ends. While the Prince has some great animation and finishing moves, with no blood to be seen, it all seems a little too tame. It’s this PG rating which I was disappointed in.
Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands is all about the gameplay. Sure, it has some decent graphics but it’s nothing special, and moving on from said graphics we get to the sound. In similar fashion to that above, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands has nothing too special worth mentioning here. It has a decent score, but it’s no Halo or Elder Scrolls game, and the voice work in this one really reflects the PG rating; it’s corny, childish and very forgettable.
The Prince in particular always has a way of saying something that a child would consider witty or funny in the most inappropriate of times, and seems to take the whole situation very lightly. He makes lame jokes at his enemies and acts sarcastic the whole time, even when confronted with death and family. It all brings the experience down from what one would expect from a Prince game from the original developers, but given the Hollywood film is about to be released, it obviously just a way to reflect on it being a Disney film and without a doubt going to sell like made when the film is released; but fear not, for although childish, this is not a movie tie-in in any way, which is actually based from the original games storyline.
Your digging deep with this one; paying a full retail price and all you get is a mediocre length campaign and some challenges, which seems to be standard for an adventure game these days. On my first go I clocked in at around 10 hours, and only some of the games later boss fights and challenges are difficult. Again, it has to be said that all of this is reflecting on the game maker’s choice to aim at a younger audience. There’s no multiplayer to be had here, and although he challenges can add a few hours at max to your overall playtime, you’re not getting much for your dollars worth.
The game aimed to be a return to form for the series, while also aiming to incite a younger, newer audience. I was a little iffy at first when I seen the PG rating, but the game actually turned out to be very enjoyable. Its core selling point is its great gameplay which rivals that of the original trilogy, which will no doubt appeal to long-time fans, and its very laid-back and casual take on violence and gore will no doubt bring many new fans to the playing field; especially with the new Disney movie inbound. New elemental features made the combat lack the proficiency of older titles, but the adventuring was as great as it has even been, meaning for some worthwhile set pieces and nice effects on water and sand. Its a game which wont fair too well being released along side the likes of Alan Wake and Red Dead Redemption, but its worth a look if you’ve ever enjoyed flipping around like a madman and ending the lives of all sorts of creatures made out of sand from the new, or old Prince of Persia games.
AAG SCORE: 8.2/10
+ Wonderful gameplay and a nice mix of action and adventure paced very well
+ Great set pieces and elemental effects make for some great parkour moments
+ Will please fans of the old, while still catering for those new to the game and genre
- No gore and limited violence make the fighting in this one a bit of a let down
- Bad, childish script and corny voice work; despite returning actors
- Graphics and sound are all a bit mediocre, bringing the good things down
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott