Since beginning this column, I have been anxious to review the Prince of Persia games, of which there have been many. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is one of my favourite games of all time, and as much as I would love to dedicate a column to reviewing it, rather unfortunately I have actually finished the game, meaning due to the prescriptions of this column I can only mention it briefly.
Rather more fortunately, I am less successful at finishing the sequels. While it may make more sense to deal with them in chronological order, I am instead going to start by exploring a game that I see as being an anomaly within the series.
For those who are unfamiliar with the franchise, Prince of Persia is a series of games that originated as a 2D platform game back in 1989. After a further two games, the rights to the franchise were sold to Ubisoft, who many will be familiar with as the developers of games such as the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry series. Ubisoft then released a series of Prince of Persia games, known as the Sands of Time trilogy, between 2003 and 2005. These followed the story of a young prince, dealing with the consequences of releasing the fabled sands of time. They were exciting, well conceived and really good fun to play. But I will come to those games in the coming weeks.
‘Prince of Persia’ was released in 2008, and seemed to signify a reboot within the franchise. The protagonist was different, the plot was different, the gameplay was different, and the aesthetics and design of the game were of a different genre altogether. What is strange is that, after this, the next multi-platform game in the series to be released was ‘Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands’, which continued with the story line introduced in the Sands of Time trilogy, and was released to tie in with the 2010 Disney film ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’.
While I won’t discuss the film in too much detail, I would say the games are definitely better. As a fan of the games, I have to admit I was disappointed with the film. For one thing they gave the Prince a name, Dastan, and while I appreciate the protagonist of a film is in need of a name in order for the story to make sense, it did somewhat spoil the original charm of the character.
Prince of Persia (2008) is therefore a stand-alone game in the series, and while I appreciate the game developers would be keen to jump on the bandwagon of the film, I do feel they could have worked in a few sequels before returning to the Sands of Time story arc. And, because this game doesn’t fit in with the rest of the series, I often feel that it may end up getting overlooked. It received good reviews, and seemed to be a turning point in the series development.
The game follows a different Prince, who, unlike the prince in the first games, is not from royalty. A fortune hunter, the Prince runs into a princess named Elika, who has recently acquired magical powers, and he is tasked with helping her use her powers to heal all the fertile grounds surrounding the Tree of Life, and therefore rid the land of corruption.
Through the game you play as the Prince, and Elika helps you to explore the environment by aiding you in performing jumps and acrobatics that you would be unable to do yourself, and also helping in fights. She therefore proves to be a very helpful companion, with the cooperative element actually adding to the overall gameplay, which is more than can be said of many other games!
If I were to criticise this game, my one point would be that it can get repetitive. The developers choose to focus on introducing more one-to-one combat in this game, meaning the fighting can begin to get monotonous after a while, especially if you are fighting the same boss who keeps regenerating. Healing the fertile grounds also does begin to become repetitive. However, this game is really good fun, and is beautifully conceived.
If you are a fan of the series, then this game may be either a refreshing change, or a move in the wrong direction. Personally, I find it hard to compare it to the other games in the series, and so would see it as a stand-alone game, meaning it is worth a play on its merits alone.
Rosanna Howard, Games Columnistbookmark me