Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Time Heals all wounds, so they say. and while my three-legged dog might have something to say about that, it's an aphorism that Ubi Soft is taking very seriously with its new 3D adventure. Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time.
For a start, the French developer is hoping the figurative sands of time have settled sufficiently over the shambles that was Prince of Persia 3D (Red Orb's misguided attempt to update the game in 1999). trusting we'll forget that betrayal and remember only why we loved the series in the first place.
But beyond this, time - always an important factor in the Prince Of Persia games - is simply key to survival in The Sands Of Time. \Ne're not talking about a time limit to complete the thing (as in the original), but a slew of cool ways in which you can manipulate, stretch and turn back time, giving you an all-important edge in the game's pitfall-strewn environments. Level designer Jean-Christophe explains.
"In the beginning of the game you break a magical hourglass and unleash the sands of time, and your quest will be to undo what you've done. Collecting the sands of time will allow you to do different kinds of special acts like rewinding time, which is useful if you die or fall off an edge - you just rewind to a few seconds earlier and keep playing. You can also slow down time, freeze your enemies during combat - they'll be put in another time dimension and you'll be able to kill them more easily, as well as sometimes see the near future, which lets us give the players some hints about what's coming up."
If I Could Find A Way...
It's a simple device to be sure, but one that has a huge impact on the action. Apart from looking cool when you kick it in, the rewind function alone makes the frustration of falling off a difficult platform at the tiniest of missteps virtually disappear, and also allows the designers to make the platforming action much more complex and interesting. Of course, your time powers are not infinite - you only collect sand and therefore temporal powers by slaying enemies with a special dagger - so you still need to watch your step.
As cool as the temporal abilities are, however, it's not just about playing with time. As in any Prince Of Persia game, the acrobatic capacities of your character are paramount, and luckily in this case you're a veritable Jackie Chan. Not only can you do all the things you'd expect from a modern platform adventure - climbing, jumping, hanging, rolling, etc - but you have one or two brilliant and novel moves such as running on walls, vertically and horizontally. All you have to do is get up a bit of steam, run at a wall and press an action key, and the prince will traverse a shallow arc across a stretch of wall, or even run straight up a few steps and grab an otherwise inaccessible lip. You can even spring off the wall at any point, making for some interesting leaps of faith to reach new areas.
Combat is even more impressive. Special fighting moves allow the prince to dodge and roll likeZelda's Link, or do a handspring off an enemy's head, stabbing them in the back on the way down. In combination with the Matrix-like slo-mo effects and the ability to freeze enemies, it makes for some spectacular results. "We tried to find an interesting combat system," says Jean-Christophe. "It's centred around multi-enemy fights -you just pick one enemy, push in that direction and you lock on to them. Push in another direction and you'll switch - it's very simple."
Another intriguing part of the game that wasn't shown at E3 is the existence of a secondary character - and love interest - who helps the prince perform different actions throughout the game. Jean-Christophe elaborates: "The story is much more complex than just collecting sand or saving a princess. You have to find the hourglass that you broke and restore the sands of time, but you will be helped in this duty, during puzzles for example, by an Indian princess. But in fact you stole her father's treasure, so she's also an antagonist."
Where You Go, ICO
Impressively, almost the whole game is set within one single, consistent palace environment. Much like the sublime (the innovative PS2 platformer), you can see the entire palace if you get the right angle, and note areas you've already been to or are yet to visit. It's all dynamically loading, with no levels, and offers a brilliant sense of scale and grandeur.
Indeed, the entire game has a certain logic and beauty to it that left us truly impressed at E3. It's definitely more a console game than a PC one. but one that's so articulate and inventive, and so effectively recalls its classic predecessor, that it really can't be overlooked. We were even inspired to take a journey back to the original game for a Games That Changed The World.
Download Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Like an enchanted carpet ride through 1001 Arabian Nights, Prince of Persia is pure magic. Soft lighting effects and elaborate, detailed architecture give the entire experience the quality of an opium-induced vision where time moves at the speed of your imagination. PoP's immersive atmosphere takes you to another level altogether. Even stuff as trivial as continuing your quest after an untimely catastrophe sparkles with creativity--the hero, narrating his own adventure, admits he's gotten it wrong and needs to retell that part of his story. The same time-warping premise pervades every inch of gameplay. You'll feel like you've loosed a genie the first time you rewind a bungled leap. And getting only a few proverbial wishes (using your abilities depletes your power reserve) creates a unique tension where you're always asking yourself, 'Will this work? Is it worth trying?' Often it's the most daring leap of faith--through a curtain of cascading water and onto a stalactite, or from a rickety wooden beam to a hanging lantern--that gets you where you need to go. When he's not negotiating ingenious jumping-puzzles, the prince applies his command over the clock to some of the most striking combat seen in a game of any kind. Ever wish you could turn back the hands of time on a battle gone wrong? Here you can correct your mistakes seconds after you've made them; deflecting that blow that snuck in from behind or cartwheeling out of harm's way where you first pressed your luck. You can also vault over foes, stabbing them while you're still upside-down; lunge from walls like a human arrow; or freeze one enemy, allowing you to more effectively deal with others. Half the fun is figuring out which enemy is susceptible to what attack. Prince of Persia isn't beyond improvement. Some battles throw too many enemies at you and a few of the puzzles are more grueling than fun, but with the game's seamlessly integrated concept, execution, and atmosphere, they're hardly worth complaining about.
Not since the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater have I played a game that controls so gracefully. And Prince of Persia is a masterpiece not only because of its perfectly simplistic controls, but also because it instills the player with a confidence I haven't felt in a game before. It does this by giving you control of time. Since you can rewind a mistake with the press of a button, you won't hesitate to try a particularly insane idea that you wouldn't even risk contemplating in other games. In Prince of Persia, you can do that idea, plus you can run up a wall, leap to and shimmy up a column, and jump to a bar you'll then use to vault up to a ledge. It's a liberating experience. An inevitable sequel could be even better, though. Here, the camera sometimes hops around at inopportune times, and the frustration factor can get extremely high if you don't immediately notice a key element to your goal. But those are minor complaints. Try stacking them against a wonderful fighting engine (I enjoyed the long batties--very satisfying), captivating story, and absolutely breathtaking graphics. Best of all, you'll want to show off Prince of Persia to friends, family, whoever, because of its strong cinematic presentation. Get this game.
They should put one of those carnival-ride warning signs on Prince of Persia's box, cause this game will make your chest explode if you've got a heart condition (in a good way, of course). Just like the classic PC games it's based on, Prince of Persia is all about death-defying acrobatics performed with superhuman precision and finesse, and the end result feels insanely rewarding. You've got a bunch of crazy, brutal moves at your disposal, and the ingeniously-designed, trap-filled environments will have you wracking your brain for ways to navigate them. Doing so is sometimes very difficult and frustrating, but you can't beat the feeling you get when you finally solve them. You feel like you're ninja that's mixed with a monkey and a spider, trapped inside of the body of a Persian pretty-boy. Combat is also amazing, with a midair ballet that puts The Matrix to shame, and a level of depth unrivaled by anything save for fighting games. Sprinkle in an amazingly tangible ambiance, haunting music, and some of the best graphics ever seen, and you have something that is a truly a marvel to behold. Damn, if it weren't for the touchy camera, this game might just have been flawless.
Tinker with time in Prince's latest puzzle-solving, platform-scaling escapade.
HOW WAS IT?
Prince's time-warping premise doesn't just pervade every inch of gameplay; it entirely renovates the longstanding series. For starters, you've got the power to stop the clock and school your foes in slow-mo. OK, so we've all seen how retarding time can supercharge combat--but turning back the clock to retry bungled leaps or botched battles? That's enough to make even Neo envious. Inspired, gorgeous, and smooth--I'm sold.
Snapshots and Media
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