In the summer of 1989, the gaming world was first given the pleasure of Prince Of Persia. The multi-format release blessed gamers of all computers and consoles with this action masterpiece. The game was then updated in 1999 on the PSX and Dreamcast, but with dreadfull results: the game was extremely poor and a huge, worldwide flop. The task of ressurecting the franchise has now been handed to Ubi Soft, who have again provided a multi-format game. Will it attract the gaming masses as the first game did, or sink into oblivion like its Dreamcast counterpart?
In this latest incarnation, you again assume the role of the prince, but now he has the daunting and perilous task of saving the kingdom from the Sands of Time.
The game is blessed through its superb graphics, which easily elevate Prince of Persia’s visuals alongside some of the very best looking games to date. From the outset, vast attention to detail is plain to see. A beautifully modeled prince is animated to perfection, and all the Xbox’s graphical capabilities are squeezed to the fullest to produce a plethora of optically astounding blur effects, particle effects, and an amazing matrix-style ‘bullet time’ effect–which really has to be seen to be believed.
And here’s where Prince of Persia truly excels. The simply divine control system for the prince is executed wondrously throughout, and is explained in great detail during the game’s opening tutorial level. Ubi soft have gone to extreme lengths to ensure that Prince of Persia plays effortlessly and, in many way, feels more like an interactive film experience. Manouvers such as gravity-defying sprints along vertical walls, hanging perilously from ledges, ballet-like fight sequences, and gorgeously fluid gymnastic flips, rolls and leaps all lend the game a sense of cinematic ambience.
As the title suggests, the game is about time, and the time element is controlled by the infamous dagger of time, which, when used, can reverse chunks of elapsed gameplay. Through its easy execution and instant, often dramatic, effect on the game mechanics, the dagger of time will likely have as big an impact on video games as bullet-time did in Max Payne.
Environmentally, you’ll experience massively complex and beautifully realized palaces, you’ll sneak through shadowed and watery tombs, navigate torturous broken platforms, evade murderous spikes, deadly rotor wheels and other hidden traps. Frankly, Prince of Persia’s sheer quality is all rather too much to take.
The game boasts some amazing CGI cut sequences that aid in conveying the evolution of the story. Prince of Persia’s plot is extremely well put together and, in terms of storytelling, it’s often just like watching a movie. Actually, at times, I sat back and enjoyed the sequences so much that I forgot I was playing a game–all credit to Ubi Soft for their outstanding work in this area.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is as impressive aurally as it is visually. I played the game in Dolby Digital 5.1 and it was a real treat for the senses; further accentuating every facet of the game’s staggering performance. The clashing of swords during melee battles is exquisite, booming explosions echo and reverberate with satisfying bass resonance, the voice acting is of the highest quality, and the perfect symbiosis of the musical score to the visuals is only matched by its lack of intrusion on the overall experience.
A game such as this doesn’ t bask in bright sunshine when it comes to replay value, although it does have certain Xbox Live elements included, such as fastest level times. Perhaps Ubi Soft will see fit to grant us extra levels for downloading in the near future? However, a low threshold of replay value won’t detract from either the game’s superb levels of achievement or its overall score.
Prince of Persian: The Sands of Time is truly majestic, an action adventure of the highest quality that ALL Xbox owners should have in their collections. Although not the longest game on the market, every precious minute of this masterpiece is nothing but complete and utter gaming joy. Buy it now!