Few people understand what it takes to become the prince of Persia. The common misconception being that one is simply born into the role, but that is not the case. Forgoing the archaic system of democratic elections, aspiring rulers of the nation must undergo a rigorous series of gymnastic trials involving spinning blade traps and spike pits. Sword fighting skills are then tested against the undead and an occasional exploding frog. Finally, they are tested for puzzle solving ability and, of course, balls of pure steel. Once crowned, a prince of Persia is given the power to manipulate time itself. From then on, the royal minstrels (Godsmack) will follow him everywhere playing heavy metal music when he does battle.
Prince of Persia: Revelations features everything mentioned above (including the exploding frogs), and for the first time it?s all been packed into the PlayStation Portable. With minimally compressed graphics, sound, and most of the prince?s signature style in tact, this is the first action game for the PSP that has actually given me a fair amount of entertainment value.
So, what makes Prince of Persia so appealing? Simple. The hero is a pure bad-ass. Our nameless prince can run across walls, jump like Carl Malone, and fight with more moves than a championship chess match. Despite the extent of his physical abilities, it all falls just barely within the limit of believability. And though at first it seems difficult to pull off all of these tricks, the controls are simple enough for a novice.
The story of Revelations picks up where its predecessor, Sands of Time, left off. The prince, now relentlessly hunted by the invincible Dahaka, seeks to free himself from its looming shadow by stopping the sands of time from ever being created (the actual sands, not the video game). To do so, he travels to the Island of Time where he is faced with the usual assortment of traps, puzzles, and foes in both the present and the distant past.
Ironically, it is in the very sands he wishes to destroy that the prince?s greatest power lies. Using the sands, the player can rewind time for up to ten seconds. This is handy for retrying a difficult jump or taking back a foolish charge on a boss. The player can also use the sands to slow time down. This is great for getting by fast moving traps or mowing down a platoon of enemies before they can lift their swords. The prince even learns a few attacks that use the sands as a special power, but each exertion of the sand costs you one chunk of it, or pearls.
Since the enemies are assorted manifestations of the sands, killing them can replenish your pearls. Fighting groups of minor foes is fun since the player gets to show off the prince?s coolest abilities. As I said before, it?s easy to flip around, throw enemies into each other and swing from poles to attack and evade. Each enemy is proficient at blocking certain moves, so you have to identify their weaknesses. Disappointingly, boss battles are less involved. Since they can counter most of your moves you have to rely on a simple attack pattern.
Between fights you?ll have to weave and roll your way through a gauntlet of traps. They start off simply, but each new corridor forces you to plan your moves out more carefully. It is best to save your special sand rewinding powers for these platforming challenges, as the player may need a few retries to avoid certain death by pitfall.
Thankfully, the puzzle solving was kept to a minimum. Though, it might be more accurate to call it “jump solving” since it?s usually a matter of figuring out how use the environment to propel yourself from one side of the room to the other. To keep things interesting, enemies pop up throughout the rooms, often trying to disrupt your most delicate maneuvers.
Though less linear than Sands of Time, there is little backtracking and getting lost. The only times I got stuck were when I underestimated the prince?s abilities and didn?t try to reach a seemingly unattainable passage. Other than attacks, few powers need to be unlocked, so you never have to remember what doors you couldn?t open so you can come back to them later. On the other hand, that also means play can become monotonous over time.
If you played Sands of Time then you?ll notice that this game is a lot darker than its predecessor, and I don?t just mean that in the visual sense. There is a lot less of an Arabian Nights feel to this game and a lot more gothic horror. The graphics are good, but I was expecting a more aesthetic backdrop. The same can be said for the soundtrack. While Godsmack does a great job of drawing you into the action, I still feel they were not the most appropriate choice.
The only strong complaint I have with the game is the several glitches I came across. They don?t occur often, but it was still frustrating to rewind time whenever the prince got stuck in a wall.
If this is your first Prince of Persia game, it will be an enjoyable first experience. Wall jumping from a nimble but powerful bad-ass has never been so much fun. But because he has many human qualities of the average person, everyone can believe in the Prince and his cause. Revelations is a trip worth taking if you own a PSP.