Prince of Persia has been available since last Holiday season, and I only just got around to finally finishing it. Â The PoP series was my favorite series of last generation; so why didn’t I beat this one in 1 week instead of 1 year?
Every couple of weeks I’d play for 30 minutes and complete a single section; then turn it off. Â Very casual play. Â Every time a boss is defeated, the game then tasks the player with collecting dozens of little light orbs to unlock the next hostile area and boss fight. Â Since this is about as boring as it sounds, I’d save and quit. Â Next time I’d boot up, I’d be forced to collect a bunch of light seeds. Â I’d collect a few in an area and eventually quit. Â After a few sessions I would finally have enough to continue on and fight the next boss. Â Once done, the process would repeat itself.
It’s not that the collection itself was poorly done; despite the occasional glitch throwing you to your death, the platforming was solid.
It was simply repetative enough that it was not fun. Â Many people had this complaint for Assassin’s Creed. Â But while Assassin’s Creeds repetativeness could be negated by hopping around and assassinating guards and playing around in a sandbox environment, in Prince of Persia you are left to leap around and collect more Light Seeds.
The environment you have to collect the orbs in, however, is extraordinarily pretty. Â Level design is both well thought-out artistically on a small and large scale. Â Each individual area is a joy to watch as you transverse through it. Â You can see previously visited and restored sections, as well as future shadowy unconquered dungeons, from dozens of high points throughout the journey. Â These beautiful vistas help give a gauge of how far you’ve come in the game.
The platforming itself is well controlled, but strict. Â Previous games in the PoP series were linear, but felt larger as you looked for the sporadic sand clouds or simply could choose to avoid a blade either on the left or the right. Â You could wall-run or leap where you wanted. Â In this newest entry, however, you press certain buttons to perform certain actions. Â If you see a ring, you press the grab/hand button to swing from it. Â Wall-running paths are pre-designated well-worn marks on the wall. Â Leaping from place to place is less about a perfect path, and more about pressing a button when certain environment prompts are placed directly in your way.
Lastly, punishment is not viceral. Â Back in the days of the original Prince of Persia, death came quickly and often. Â Because this could cause frustration, the game made it graphically interesting. Â In the latest entry, death never actually occurs when you miss the button press. Â The player is attacked by black goo (corruption) or falls to his death without ever hitting the ground. Â The Prince is saved at the last minute before anything can actually occur. Â You never have a sense of defeat when you take a misstep or an enemy knocks you down; just a sense of annoyance that you have to try again.
I haven’t mentioned combat, but it generally isn’t important in a PoP game. Â It was the main complaint against the Sands of Time, where Warrior Within’s focus was improved combat. Â Two Thrones had the best approach: stealth kills that simply removed combat entirely if the player performed extra platforming. Â This Prince of Persia institutes a classic one-on-one style. Â This is an interesting approach, harkening back to the original Prince of Persia, but there is no defeat in combat. Â You are always saved in at the last second much like any other danger in the game.
Overall, Prince of Persia is not a bad game but does not stand up to the high bar set by the previous trilogy. Â Much like each game Ubisoft Montreal has worked on in the past, I have faith they will take many of these criticisms to heart and improve the sequel.