The lights are on
Even before I played the game, I found myself looking at the screens and being pleased with what I saw. After I dove into the adventure, I felt that my first opinions about them where justified. A lot of what you see on the screen seems like it could just as well have been done by an artist for a book or a painting. Not all games need to have crisp lines and perfectly sculpted curves, and Prince of Persia is one of them. I very much enjoyed the vibrant colors of the healed ground, contrasted with the cooler, darker colors of the corrupted. My only major gripe with the new art direction is the occasional unusual facial animation or random blur, which seems like a bug that could have been wormed out.
As I would expect with an adventure game such as this, the sound of Prince of Persia is spot on. The soundtrack fits very well with the action and spices up the drama where it should. It commits itself to your memory, like the themes from movies such as Pirates. Nolan North continues to fit well in this genre, as I found myself remembering the first Uncharted title as I listened to his many conversations with his significant other, Elika. On that note, dialogue in the game is entertaining and flows well with the overall plot. In some ways I felt it was an element that made the game, as I think about it with out it I picture a much less interesting game. One that I find myself questioning is the length of the conversations, which sometimes lasted quite a while, or maybe a sentence or two. The pace of the game was hurt and the process, when some time could have been taken to even the timing out somewhat.
More like a minigame and less like the swordfighting in Wii Sports Resort, Prince of Persia rewards patience. Timing is the name of the game in combat, as you evade and move about the arena waiting for the right moment to nick at your opponents opening. Contrary to past entries in the series, in which you faced more then one enemy and could mostly mash on one button, this entry seems more on par with a complex God of War minigame with added functionality. Its not a perfect system, however, as I found myself frustrated at how slow the prince moves, or how difficult it was to manage something as simple as leading a boss to his well deserved death. Its an interesting new direction for combat, but you really wish for some polish at the end. On the other end of the spectrum, the wall-running is smooth and fun, with very few areas where I felt dumbfounded or frustrated. Elika plays like good AI should, never being something that I had to worry about as I played the game. While I sometimes felt like not being able to die when falling off into a never-ending chasm hurt the experience, not having to struggle with loading times or being pushed back too far helped ease the pain. Boss battles call for just a touch more strategy and cunning, as normal combat mechanics are tightened to some bare combos, which ups the adrenaline of the action while making you pay extra attention.
Some might say that the shift from a traditional prince to a more nomad/thief character to be detrimental to the series overall, but I found that Ubisoft has connected enough of the flair and magic from previous games into a new original plot. At the end of the game, you feel a connection to the characters, as well as the forces around you and what shapes humans overall. The more somber start to the game ends with a conclusion you might have been able to see coming, but still seems to pull you in. In the end you are left wanting more, but unsure how and when.
Overall, Ubisoft Montreal has crafted a new and very interesting take on the franchise as a whole, leaving you with little things that may bug you a bit, but overall leaves you with a smile on you face. While there are certainly problems to address, the game sets a solid foundation for future games in the series, as well as establishes a precedent that some games can move out of the traditional and still function as well as anything else.
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