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December 12, 2008
Prince of Persia - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
4/12/2008UbisoftUbisoftUbisoft Montreal1None
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Taking on one of the boss characters.
With a history now two decades long the Prince of Persia series is one with millions of fans around the world. The last generation of consoles was kind to the franchise with a wonderful reboot, and storyline, bringing us three successful titles. It was a gamble then for Ubisoft to develop this latest game in the franchise for next-gen system (such as the PS3). Ubisoft have scrapped the last prince, and the Sands of Time storyline with this latest Prince of Persia being a totally separate game with new characters and a new storyline. Enough talk, on with the details...

Set in a land rooted in ancient Persian mythology, the Prince finds himself caught in an epic battle between the primal forces of light and darkness: the God of Light, Ormazd versus his brother Ahriman, the destructive God of Darkness. The Prince arrives just in time to witness the destruction of the legendary Tree of Life an act which threatens to plunge the entire world into eternal darkness. Manifested in the form of the Corruption, a dark substance that physically contaminates the land and the skies, the Prince must partner with Elika, a deadly companion, to heal the world from the evil Corruption.

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Elika shows you the path...
Prince of Persia's storyline can be summarise quite simply as two people working together to save the world. What makes this succeed is the interactions between the two heroes; the Prince and Elika. While there are probably a few too many jokes ("If I die, I don't want to get squished under rocks, people like me this shape, girls like me this shape") for our liking, the characters build their relationship and love for each other throughout the game, and it's a pleasure to witness.

As with previous games in the series platforming and traversing the land is the focus here. The Prince can run along walls, grab onto poles or ledges to hang off or move along, jump across gaps and so on. Indeed his movements are very fluid - certainly some of the best we've ever seen in a video game - but the game goes beyond these basic moves. With Elika always close to the Prince she can often help you. If you fall she will save you from death, if you have to jump a large gap she can provide a 'springboard' effect by throwing you that extra distance required and she can even assist in combat (more on that soon). There are also some puzzles where Elika will be required to assist you although, seeing as she is AI controlled, this isn't really any different to working on the puzzles yourself. One of the neat aspects of this game is that Elika can send out a light orb which can show you the path which you need to follow to get to the goal, or next area.

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Texturing in Prince of Persia is impressive.
Where this game differs from previous generation Prince of Persia titles is the massive reduction in the amount of combat. No longer will you be surrounded by enemies. In fact, all the combat in this game is a much more intimate one-on-one encounter, but the enemies are often quite large with battles taking quite a bit of time. Some of the enemies will turn into a dark form at which point you will need to use Elika in combat (by pressing the triangle button) to inflict damage, and take them back to a state where the Prince can inflict damage with his sword as well. In another state if Elika touches the enemies she will pass out and need to be revived before assisting you again.

Key to the battles is the ability to block attacks by pressing the R2 button. Somewhat annoyingly though this is displayed on the screen when you need to block thus taking out much of the challenge. During fights the Prince has three levels of health - full (which is when he can move around briskly), damaged (which sees the screen turn red on the edges and his movement slowed down) or, well, pretty much dead where you will on the ground, and attacked by the enemy. Should you not press the correct button in time Elika will need to save you, but every time that happens the enemy regains a sizable chunk of health back.

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Simply the best cel-shading ever.
The world is available from a central hub - which begins at the temple. As you complete each of the worlds Elika brings it back to life and you can teleport from one to another. The great thing about this is that you more or less have a say in which levels you want to complete first. As you progress and collect light orbs you can unlock new powers at the temple (being able to run lightning fast, or jump massive distances) which help unlock further levels.

Unfortunately this isn't a faultless game. The first, somewhat major, surprise was that the Prince's sword isn't upgradable during the game. What you start the game with, you'll keep until the end. While you will find different combos to use, and will need to use different attack patterns against different enemies the reality is that you'll find one or two combos you like and will stick to them. Some people may also find the backtracking required in this game a little annoying. After clearing an area you will need to re-traverse it to collect light orbs to unlock new powers, and new areas. Finally the game is fairly easy, and not overly long. With a run through time of 12-15 hours and no online or offline multi-player modes you may go back through it a second time, but it won't be to find new areas or experience something different.

We do have to mention though that despite what some reviewers have stated - I'm looking at GameTrailers here - Prince of Persia did not crash during our entire playthrough. Perhaps they were unlucky, reviewing beta code, or have a dodgy PS3 but we had no problems at all.

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Prince of Persia's artwork is impressive.
As you can see from the surrounding screenshots this is a very unique looking game and uses a modified version of Ubisoft's powerful Scimitar engine last seen in Assassin's Creed. Indeed the game uses an updated form of cel shading on the characters which increases the detail considerably. We've already mentioned how fluid the animation is, and its a delight to simply sit back and watch the Prince and Elika traverse the levels. Also impressive are the wonderful levels which look superb with plenty of 'wow' moments as you look over vast vistas.

We are pleased to report that this game has quite a bit less screen tearing then found in Assassin's Creed. It's still not perfect mind you, but wasn't as noticeable as Ubisoft's previous game.

If there is one negative with the graphics in this game it has to do with the dialogue drive cut scenes between the Prince and Elika. They are quite static (you can pan the camera slightly though) with little variety. Given the frequency of these conversations it would have been nice to have a little more variety - or at least let you continue playing while the characters talk.

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The Prince uses a wall launch point.
Sonically Prince of Persia uses Dolby Digital 5.1 audio to good effect with plenty of ambient effects, and great directional sound to assist with detecting enemies. The music is certainly one of the highlights of this release with a rousing score in places.

We do have two minor niggles with the audio on this game though. Firstly when traversing the land on rare occasions the audio pauses for a fraction of a second, presumably while something loads. It is quite noticeable and jarring and should have been fixed prior to release. The other issue isn't technical, but has to do with the Prince's dialogue. While the scripting is fairly good, although perhaps a little too 'jokey', his accent doesn't really have an ancient Persian feel. In fact, he pretty much has no accent at all which makes him a bit bland and generic.

Prince of Persia may not be as earth shattering as the first experience on the PS2, but it's a damn fine game in its own right. Visually impressive and certainly very entertaining this is a game that anyone could, and should, pick up due to the new characters and storyline. Another fine production from Ubisoft.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSThe characters look and move superbly, the world looks great, only minor screen tearing.
SOUNDA bland voice for the Prince, and some minor hiccups but overall still impressive.
GAMEPLAYThis is more platformer then action game now which may make it a bit slow for some, it's also pretty easy.
VALUENo multi-player or weapon upgrades, and under 15 hours to complete it. Fun, but good value? I'm not so sure.
OVERALLPrince of Persia is a solid reboot of a great last-gen franchise. With some more combat, and perhaps 'unique' feature this could have scored a bit higher. Still, if you like the genre we suggest you check this game out.

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