Review by NeoTS

Reviewed: 12/19/05

Time Is A Trilogy

"You may wonder who I really am, and why I say these things. Come, and I will tell you a tale like none you have ever heard."

And so comes to closure another great PS2 trilogy, Prince of Persia. My how this series has worked to ensure absolute greatness in each and every installation it presents. When the Sands of Time was released, gamers ate up the platforming-based puzzles, but had a hard time with the combat. In the second game, Warrior Within, the combat was beefed up, the Prince had way more moves and a darker outlook. But now, there was TOO much fighting, not enough platforming. Some said that the Prince's new outlook just wasn't as cool as it had been in the first game. And so, Ubisoft Montreal took all of this to heart, and they've come up with The Two Thrones, the shining jewel of the series. The combat and platforming have been refined to such an awesome level of perfection that the thrills just don't stop coming. This is without a doubt, the best game in the series- every aspect of this game is absolutely phenomenal.

At the end of Warrior Within, the Prince had defeated the Dahaka, freeing himself from his fate. He was no longer a marked man, and so a heavy burden was lifted from his shoulders. Taking the Empress of Time, Kaileena, back to home to his Babylon, he finds that it is under attack. But by who? After making his way through the ancient streets and through a palace, he learns the truth that will please any fan of the series. A disaster strikes, and the Sands of Time are unleashed once more. The Prince manages to grab the Dagger of Time again, but not before a weapon embedded into his arm is infected with the Sands. This gives birth to his alter-ego, the Dark Prince. This man's intentions are unclear, but are clearly driven by a greed and lust for battle that the Prince would not express. And now, he must travel through his land, to the main palace, to defeat his greatest enemy once and for all.

The controls remain the same from the previous PoP games, you'll find no surprises. Most of his Time powers have returned, especially the Recall, which allows you to turn back the clock and undo any mistakes. The Prince is just as agile as always, and has a few more moves to extend those wall runs. He can now jam his dagger into busts mounted on walls, and he can leap diagonally using shutters. These make up for some very cool jumping sequences. Some of these sequences have been hard to spot, so Ubisoft has allowed the player to get an overview of the whole area by pressing the L2 button when a small icon appears at the bottom of the screen. If you're a seasoned veteran from previous PoP games, you'll hardly use this, but it still comes in handy when you can't spot that little ledge sticking out from a regular viewpoint. One main complaint from Warrior Within is that there was just too much fighting, taking way too much time away from the platforming. This complaint has been addressed with the inclusion of speed kills. These are stealth kills not unlike those found in Tenchu. If you manage to sneak up on an enemy, you can perform these kills, by pressing the square button whenever the dagger flashes. For simple enemies, like archers, one strike will do it. For the armored brutes found later in the game, it can take up to 5 strikes- mess up once and your cover will be blown. This is a fantastic and well-implemented idea, as the player can really get a sense of flow and urgency as you really race through the levels.

But for those of you who enjoy all the combat, fear not. The combat engine is exactly the same as Warrior Within. The combo's are repetitive, and I found myself using the same two over and over, but they get the job done, and can get it done quickly for the most part. But the real aspect of combat lies within the Dark Prince. At various points throughout the game, you will transform into the Prince's alter ego, and your life will begin to drain. This means that you'll have to defeat enemies to keep refilling it. You do so with the Daggertail, which is essentially a chain covered in blades. It's pretty cool the first few times you use it, but towards the middle and end of the game, I found his segments to be a little too repetitive. He can also use the Daggertail as a grappling hook in some of his smaller platforming sequences. It's a good idea, but his combat isn't truly unique, thus making it somewhat of a chore. The boss fights have a long way from the Vizier in PoP. The fights in The Two Thrones are amazing, making use of the speed kills an your own dexterity. The final boss will test everything you know about Prince of Persia, so if you're good, he should be cakewalk. But all of them are a lot of fun, and fairly challenging. There is one diversion from the main gameplay, and this the chariot. Twice during the game, you'll be charged with racing through the streets of Babylon on a horse-drawn chariot as enemies come at you from all directions. These segments, while not very hard, can prove to be very frustrating if you don't have any sands to reverse time. Still, it breaks up the gameplay and both races are a spectacular way to keep the story moving.

The graphics are good, though they are beginning to show their age this late in the PS2's cycle. The lighting is excellent as always, giving the game an almost mythical feel. Everything seems bright, like the first game, as you make your way through old tunnels, arenas, siege towers, the streets of Babylon and a huge palace. My favorite area of the game had the Prince making his way up this palace on the outside. Thousands of feet in the air, the city can be seen all around. The characters are cool, although the Prince stands out. As usual, his clothing gets all torn up, and not before long, he's running around shirtless. But this allows us to see the part of his body "infected" with the Dark Prince... and it actually spreads as the game goes on. So, while the graphics could have have used a little tweak, they are still very good for what this game tries to accomplish. Liked the music in the first PoP? Felt Godsmack was out of place in WW? Then this is the game for you. Gone are the heavy metal riffs in place of more Arabian and Persian themes, something that actually fits the mood and setting of the game. The voices have also improved, as the Prince is once again voiced by the man who voiced him in the first game. It almost represents a return to normalcy for the Prince. He and the Dark Prince banter through a lot of platforming segments, some jokingly, some surprisingly deep, and other times it is quite apparent that they hate each other. The story is once again told through narration, akin to the first game. One thing I should mention is that I had problems with the sound quality during CG movies. I'd have to turn my volume all the way to hear anything at all. It's kind of a nuisance, but it didn't happen every single time.

The Two Thrones has three difficulties, life upgrades to find, and tons of paintings and movies to unlock. I played through it three times straight before I even thought about setting the game down for a little while. It will definitely keep you coming back for more, especially if you're a fan of the previous games. It wraps up the trilogy with an utmost perfection that it's difficult to describe. Believe me, you'll know exactly what I mean when you beat the game. This is Prince of Persia as it was meant to be for the PS2-streamlined, smooth and nonstop fun. All of the complaints have been hammered out or addressed, and the result is the best game of the series, and one of the best games of the year.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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