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Sands Best Left Forgotten

Oh what a waste of potential. Well, I'm Paradigm the Fallen, and this is my review of PoP: The Forgotten Sands for the Wii. I paid 38 dollars for this game, and I genuinely wouldn't have spent five dollars if I had any idea of what I was getting into. If you were looking for a happy review, best you read the other user review on here, because... just wow, I have never seen such a badly handled set of good ideas in such a long time.

Few words can describe the level of profanities I have leveled at my TV while playing this game. I don't think I can do this review the justice it needs to emphasize how crappy this game is, and I actually enjoy playing games on the Wii. Well, lets give it a a shot.


"Trust me, it's for your own good! Die now before you make it further inside! GAAAHH!"

Forgotten Sands opens with -- well, actually it opens as if the opening's already happened. We're dropped inmedias res into the Prince trying to outrun what would appear to be another sand apocalypse. Except, for some reason, he doesn't seem that worried and the sand storm/flood in question has no actual bearing on the plot or the characters. We find out that the Prince bought himself a genie in order to gain his own kingdom. Obviously, the genie plans to reward the Prince with his wish through the most contrived, repetitive, and painful means possible -- I mean, aren't all Prince of Persia games built on ancient myth style stories, and didn't all of them feature tedious leg work? Maybe I'm reviewing this all wrong -- maybe the frustration was intentional...

Nope, it was pure coincidence. Moving on!

So you arrive in this land of Istahar, which is about as easy to say and spell as Kashyyyk (yes it's three Y's), and you apparently are supposed to free it from some sort of evil jungle thing. Except there's no one alive besides monsters, and it's pretty evident early on that the genie used to live here -- the fact the Prince takes nearly five hours to figure out this plot "twist" (more like twisting a wrist than anything else).

I understand the Prince is a favored character thanks to his arc in Sands of Time. Well, apparently he's forgotten all of that and decided to take on a new leave as the Most Annoying Protagonist of 2010! I'd actually prefer playing as Bryce Boltsman for crying out loud. Every time you actually do well in combat, the Prince will get haughty about how badass and lovely he thinks himself to be, nevermind that you're the only reason the git has even made it this far. Generally all of my problems with the game are interwoven, as while the game is crap, it at least is intricately designed crap -- I guess that's something?


Gah, now he's even shiny like a vampire from Twilight!

The overall gameplay structure can be best summarized as the few following repeated archetypes

1. A platforming section that's ultra linear and leaves little room for creative thinking. If you think there's another route, it's probably just to a room or platform with bonus jars that you can break for experience points and/or health.

2. A combat section set in a small room or corridor that will probably feature at least two waves of enemies and introduces a "new" variant of them after about three or so combat sections have passed.

3. A puzzle section that tries to combine platforming and combat but actually makes the worst parts of each even worse. It's ultra-linear, often sends you back to the beginning when you die, and often tries to throw enemies in to "spice things up".

4. A boss fight. These feel about the same as the puzzle sections, but you get the added bonus of, you guessed it! Quick. Time. Events. And not even the forgiving kind! These are the kind where you have to be perfect on the first try! Or you have to start all over! And you retain your damage even though the boss doesn't! Sounds like fun, huh?

It doesn't help that the game is about as passive aggressive about letting you die as it is letting you actually accurately control the prince. If I got a dollar for every time the game "guessed" what I meant rather than actually do what I told it to. And since you're often running at multiple angles, the Nunchuck's stick is put to the limit as the game randomly decides whether you pointed your stick up or at an angle or to the side.  I once died nearly five times not because of my own lacking of knowing what to do or bad timing -- but because the game itself wasn't registering my movements correctly. In a platformer where there's only one means to get anywhere, not being able to do what I know I should be able to is frustrating.


Yeah, that's right, I'm giving the sword handle to your game. Deal with it, and develop a likeable personality while we're at it.

Of course, if you were a fan of Prince of Persia 2008, you'll probably feel right bloody well at home. Except the genie and prince's banter isn't half as good as Nolan North and Eleka's dialogue in 2008. Instead, we get stilted dialogue on par with a romance novel at best. The fact that the game pretty much takes every chance it gets to "develop" the characters doesn't help either.

Now I can say one positive thing about the game -- there are points where it actually looks quite pretty. In fact, some sections of the game were so nice looking that I felt tempted to stick around for a bit just to look, and even a yearning for the option to visit some of the more far off locations. Instead though, I was forced to tread repeatedly through the various halls of one fortress (calling it a castle is like saying a tiger is a kitten). And I must say, whoever ordered the place be built clearly didn't bet on someone bribing the architect. How half of the traps are even supposed to stop someone is beyond me -- while others seem so elaborate that you are left wondering why they're trying so hard to defend *gasp* clearly a sacred broom closet and hallway around the bend!

Okay, another positive thing -- you get these powers along the way that seem really neat. Until you find out their pretty much the most mundane thing because you need to use them every step of your way. These "creation" powers allow you to create new grappling positions on specific color coordinated icons (because God apparently forbade they make them all the the same power and as a result be convenient to use), create a boost for you to use to get to higher locations, and to use both said abilities without icons, just with the cost that once you move, either the boost or the grapple point vanish. And remember how I said controls were a bit inconsistent? Well how much you want to bet platforming elements disappearing because of a misfire and as a result you die happened way too often? (Hint, you should bet a high number). Also, you can freeze enemies, but that's like muzzling a dog that has no legs.


Apparently this is a prequel to Friday the 13th, if the constant wearing of masks by enemies is any indication.

The only enemies that, for a short time, present a challenge are the healers and giant enemies. These are literally the best the game can throw at you besides stat increased versions of earlier archers and melee grunts, so it runs out of ideas for the combat -very-  quickly. It doesn't take too long before they'll be throwing two giants at you and yet you'll still cut through them like a knife through paper.

It doesn't help the game when you add the fact that the progression system literally refuses to be directed by you. You will gain XP, but unless Ubisoft decided you -should- have that ability at that point, you won't have any convenient control over your progression. And the fact is, you get the feeling this was done because people probably just upgraded their main sword attack and got the whirlwind attack that pretty much kills every enemy. Instead, you upgrade everything like a good little boy or girl because you invited the Prince to your party and you'll have to play with him whether you want to or not or else Ubisoft isn't going to let you have your cake.


Stop trying to keep going and die already!

You know what's ironic -- when I tried to play this game for the very first time, I actually was enjoying it at first. The first hour or so felt promising. I actually was expecting to agree with the original GI review. But as it turns out, the game gets worse and worse with every step you take. Do yourself a favor -- don't. buy. this. game.

 

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