A guy, a girl, and a donkey

09May09

I’ve heard people express mixed feelings regarding the latest Prince of Persia release. I admit, when I read about the game I wasn’t impressed. A complete reboot of the series with a brand new Prince, not to mention one that’s apparently a real asshole (please, hold the donkey jokes)? No sands of bloody time? And you can’t die?! Yeah, no thanks.

Boy, was I wrong, because the fresh spin on Prince of Persia delivers one gorgeous, fun time.

Story

The loud-mouthed, brash Prince and the good-hearted Elika

“Farahhhh!” is the first thing you hear from a handsome young man donning a purple and red scarf. A few seconds later a beautiful woman runs into his path, fleeing from her father and her home at the temple he rules; the game begins. The snarky hero, who has stumbled into her realm after losing his gold-loaded donkey Farah in a sandstorm, soon teams up with the princess Elika. Her father, for reasons yet unclear, unleashes the angry wrath of the dark god Ahriman, whose evil Corruption drains the good and light from the land.

In order to save the kingdom and free her father from the grasp of Ahriman, the Prince joins Elika, who channels the light god Ormazd’s energy, in a quest to heal the fertile grounds and drive back Ahriman. In the meantime, the two must repeatedly face and eventually defeat the Hunter, Alchemist, Concubine, and Warrior—the four opponents who reign over the four elemental regions. Each has sold his soul to Ahriman, and each specializes in different combat tactics and presents different challenges to the Prince and Elika.

Visuals and Audio

The world that Elika and the Prince must fight for succeeds at being both grim and unwelcoming as well as a bright, watercolor picture come alive. The effect is so literal and dramatic that restoring the lands to their full beauty becomes a very profound and gratifying experience.

The environments are visually stunning and a blast to explore.

Visuals and audio work hand-in-hand, so not only will you feel when you have entered unhealed areas by the change in atmosphere, but you’ll hear it, as well. Overall, the art style looks magnificent, even in the corrupted vicinities; although the music doesn’t provide much variety, the score is lovely and doesn’t get old.

Gameplay

As far as controls go, they’re practically flawless in terms of reliability. There were a few times that it felt like some of the prompted button sequences were unfair, but then I realized that your success with certain moves often relies on your health. Elika might always save the Prince from any death—functioning as his own personal rewind button—but even though only enemies use health bars, the Prince can still take damage, and that impairs his performance in fights. Button mash as much as you want, but it won’t do you any good if the red health warning bordering the screen is closing in.

Because the Prince can’t die, there’s honestly not much challenge to the game. Sometimes puzzles and elemental sequences can get a bit tricky, but even then it’s short-lived. Even combat can be a breeze with the practice of deflecting, although there are dozens of combos to be discovered and executed, making the co-op battle experience rewarding. Elika offers magical attacks, counter-spells, and protection, while the Prince takes the offense with his sword and gauntlet. Most of the combat occurs when fighting Ahriman’s favorite four henchmen, and they each provide a unique and refreshing change of pace. The Hunter likes trapping his prey (you), the Alchemist plays with mechanisms and magic, the Concubine revels in trickery and illusion, and the Warrior—well, you just have to push him off an edge; even fighting him ends up surprisingly new every time.

Brawling with the Hunter, Alchemist, Concubine, and Warrior always promises new excitement.

Outside of combat, the gauntlet serves as a means to scale down walls. Elika collects light seeds that boost her power and allow you to access another of the four elemental domains. The game drags a bit in the beginning due to encouraged conversation, but it quickly picks up speed. Plus, you can always prompt the Prince to spout a quip with a tap of the shoulder button, so roaming the lands shouldn’t get boring.

Lifespan

There are plenty of trophies (or achievements, for Xbox players) to seek out after completing the game. Collecting light seeds should consume some time, but figuring out the long list of combos, reaching heights (and lows), and achieving new successes in battle can require skill and patience, too. The game is fun, the humor is enjoyable, and the solid story flows well enough to easily justify another run through.

DLC

If you enjoy the game, then the “Epilogue” expansion is a must. The add-on translates into a few hours’ gameplay—roughly the equivalent of one elemental region. Considering the game’s creative yet cliff-hanger ending, you’ll probably be craving some sort of clue to what might come next. Well, the DLC won’t give you any sort of closure, either; it will take you on a challenging ride that demands skill and focus. The enemies and corruption are smarter and more numerous in the underground tomb, and combat bumps up a level with Elika’s new Energize and the Prince’s Sprinting Clash moves. Also, the DLC unlocks some amusing and interesting skins for the two heroes.

Challenge your acrobatic and combat skills in the corruption-infested "Epilogue."

Recommendation: Prince of Persia requires a moderate time investment, and the game earns its worth; a sequel, which I’m highly anticipating, will surely be upon us soon enough. Although the music wasn’t particularly epic in variety, and challenges were hard to come by, the new spin on the series turned out to be one for the better. The Prince may be a little frank sometimes, but he’s by no means a jerk. The chemistry between him and Elika is fun to watch. And the ending would seem frustrating if it weren’t so creative and daring.

You won’t miss the sands of time—but there’s no way you should miss out on the next-gen Prince of Persia. Even if you never do find Farah.

Prince of Persia
Systems: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft

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One Response to “A guy, a girl, and a donkey”

  1. I loved it so much…I thought the graphics were just outstanding and I loved the dynamic between the prince and elika, I honestly almost cried at the end.

    Great review! And i’m glad you liked it too 🙂


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