Review by cidhighwind100

Reviewed: 11/11/08

Royal or Rubbish?

Good: Visceral acrobatics and enjoyable combat, challenging puzzles, great boss fights, nice environments.

Bad: Dark Prince's sections, repetitive, trial and error sections, crude character animation.

The Prince of Persia series has overall been enjoyable, but I can't say this blew me away - it is a good game no mistake, but it hasn't really developed enough since 'Warrior Within' to be a truly memorable finale.

When playing as the Light Prince (I’ll explain why I’ve used the term ‘light’ in a minute) you can pull off loads of combos which differ when you're simply carrying the dagger or if you pick up a weapon you've found. The game is spiced up by stealth kills which are not tiresomely creeping around everywhere but simply sneaking up behind an enemy and hitting buttons at the right time for a stylish kill. It’s good fun, but the fighting can become annoyingly repetitive by the time you reach the 8 hour mark. The speed kills later on in the game can also be nail-bitingly difficult and you'll often be forced into using a few sand tanks to pull them off. If you don't manage to pull them off however, you can be forced into an equally difficult scrap with sand monsters that take ages to kill - I remember screaming at the television 'WHY WON'T YOU DIE?!' on numerous occasions.

The acrobatics in this are as enjoyable as in the last 2 games - fast paced and extravagant. Unfortunately, the new setting of Babylon makes out there are a variety of possible solutions, yet the game is linear and there is only one right way - this can cause you to choose a non-existent path, die, and have to repeat sections over and over. Fortunately though, you can use the sands of time to perform some very powerful attacks, as well as slow down and reverse time. This allows you another chance at leaping about and helps to get the upper hand in fights.

Now, remember in brackets I said I would explain calling the Prince ‘Light Prince’? Good, here’s why - The ‘Dark Prince’ is a new addition to the series which is fuelled by the Prince’s desire and hatred. When you're playing as him you get a marvellous chain which causes mega damage to most enemies and which you can use to swing around parts of the game, pull levers and such when a puzzle confronts you. As I said, for speed kills as the Light Prince you hit buttons at the right time, in the Dark Prince's case however, this consists of throttling enemies with your chain by hammering the triangle button.

Now here comes the nasty bit......the Dark Prince has a life metre which slowly decreases when you play as him and needs to be replenished by killing enemies and collecting the sand credits they drop. I ended up trying bits over and over because spent too long on working out a puzzle and the Dark Prince just....dies. Yet time is NEEDED to work puzzles out, or you are forced to rush through without working things out, also causing you to die. The combat sections as the Light Prince do become repetitive, but even more so in the Dark Prince’s case as the game rarely requires you to try out any of his more tricky combos. Lengthy button combinations will occasionally appear onscreen for you to try but it's far more inviting to just swing your chain around constantly and kill faster to gain sand credits. Luckily these sections of the game are kept short which should quell your anger and frustration.

The graphics are a mixed bag – on the one hand you’ve got some incredible looking environments and on the other you have badly detailed characters and some scrappy animation. The city of Babylon is beautifully rendered and you bound from one great looking environment to the next, but as to the characters themselves, the Prince and Farah look nowhere near as good. Their mouths don’t move entirely in sync with their speech, they look very different during the cut-scenes to how they do in game-play and their fingers are even stuck together, their hands like blocks! Come on people, blocky animation belongs to yesteryear.

The sound is very atmospheric and a nice change from the rather odd heavy metal soundtrack of ‘Warrior Within’, although there's too few tracks to create a truly memorable score and they often sound very familiar. The swords clash just like you wish they would and the voice acting is right on the ball. The voice of the dark prince can grate, but he's lovably cynical and humorous and enough for us to forgive. The dialogue between him and the light prince actually provides the game with some of it's funniest moments and their bickering is more compelling than the sometimes saccharine romance with Farah.

Ultimately the fighting and acrobatics become a little monotonous, but the game keeps adding new elements like harder bosses and more challenging puzzles to keep you satisfied. It isn't too short, providing well over 12 hours of game-play, though it doesn’t really have anything else to offer except the main game. Speaking as someone who has played the whole trilogy, I’d be lying if I didn’t say this is the weakest of the three, but in spite of the downsides, this is an enjoyable platformer. It’s a decent game that is worth your time, even if it's not the best in the series.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones (US, 12/01/05)

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