Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Game Info
Platform(s)
PS2, GC, Xbox
Publisher
Ubisoft
Developer
Ubisoft
Genre
Action/Adventure
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Suggestive Themes, Blood, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Flawless gameplay
• Stunning graphics

The Bad

• A bit on the easy side

 
Grade
A+

Beautiful. Stunning. Amazing. Those three words only begin to scratch the surface of the greatness that is Prince of Persia. This is one of those rare games that not only lives up to the hype surrounding it, but surpasses it. With some of the most impressive graphics seen in a video game to date, combined with an extremely easy to use yet wonderfully deep control system, Prince of Persia is a rare gem that is sure to be included in every top 10 list for years to come.

The story begins with the Prince and his father raiding the palace of the Maharajah, on the advice of a scheming Vizier, for all the wealth and glory to be found within. What they don't know is that the palace contains the ancient and powerful Sands of Time, and a strange dagger that is able to control time. Along with the artifacts, the Prince and his father bring back slaves to Persia, among them the Maharajah's daughter, Farah. Hoping to gain favor with the Sultan, the Prince is tricked by the Vizier into plunging the dagger into the hourglass, releasing the Sands of Time and changing the people of the palace into strange creatures controlled by the Sand. The Prince and Farah must attempt to escape the palace, evade the enemies and restore the Sands of Time, and thus the story begins.

The game starts off with a very informative tutorial level, which teaches you the skills you will need to survive your adventure. From there, you are thrown into a palace full of inventive puzzles, traps and hidden areas, and a multitude of enemy types, each with a certain weakness that must be exploited to defeat them. Control is a breeze, by the end of the tutorial level controlling the Prince will become second nature. From running along walls, to tightrope walking across narrow beams and flipping from poles and columns, the movements look and feel natural and easy. Combat is great fun as well, you'll feel like you are in an action movie as the Prince takes on multiple foes at once, flipping over them to deliver killing blows, dodging around them to avoid their attacks, and striking multiple foes with a simple press of the attack button.

However, enemies are not simply defeated by hacking at them, and here the game adds it's most innovative twist: the dagger. In order to truly kill the enemies, you must beat them to submission, then finish them off with the dagger. Doing this adds sand to your dagger's meter, which once filled allows you to control time as you fight and solve the game's puzzles. Worried about missing that critical jump and starting over? Fear not! With the dagger and some sand, botched jumps or missed blocks can become second chances, as a simple press of a button rewinds time and saves you from a fatal fall or blow. During combat you can use the dagger to slow time for a moment, allowing you to dance around enemies with ease, or even freeze the enemy in place, allowing for an easy one hit kill. Over the course of the game, you earn more sand capsules to enable you to use more complex abilities, including the ability to freeze all enemies on screen at once. However, you can't use this ability all the time, as eventually you will run out of sand and not be able to immediately restore it, so saving sand for crucial moments becomes more and more important as the game goes on. The game ramps up the difficulty of the traps and puzzles as you go; by the end of the game you will be using everything you have learned to get past every puzzle, and feeling like a pro while you do it.

As mentioned before, "stunning" is a good word to start with in describing the graphics of Prince of Persia. The game has a sort of otherworldly "glow" about it, much like another graphically impressive game, Ico. The Prince and Farah both have well done character models, as do enemies, and their animation is fluid with no skips in their motions. But the real star is the environments, which both look great and are well designed. The palace is a huge place, almost a character itself, and the rooms and outdoor environments are a beauty to behold, be it the basement dungeon or the high peak of the Tower of Dawn. Particle and lighting effects are quite good as well; when enemies are killed they disappear in a swirl of sand, and torches give off appropriate shadows and heat waves.

Even the camera is well done in Prince of Persia. While you can manually adjust it to any position, the game is quite good at giving you the appropriate viewing angle. If you get lost, you can look around using a first person camera, or if you'd like a "big picture" of the level, there is a landscape angle that shows the entire area around you. The music does a great job, when it's there. Mostly you'll explore the castle with nothing but the ambient sounds, but when the music does kick in, it's a great hybrid of Arabic tunes with rock beats, and it works quite well.

No game is perfect, however, and Prince of Persia does have two things keeping it from perfection. First, the game is short. I finished it in just over 8 hours, and that was with lots of replaying certain sections and looking for hidden secrets. While there is some replay value (the original Prince of Persia is hidden in the game), there's not much to do once the adventure is over. Also, while it's a great feature, the ability to rewind your mistakes makes the game a bit easy. Sure, there will be times when you run out of sand, but for the most part, you can almost always rewind that mistake and try again. Lastly, the game leaves little to your imagination when it comes to puzzles, as each time you reach a save point, you are given a "vision" about what you will be doing next, that practically shows you everything you need to do in the upcoming section.

However, those are minor complaints in what is an otherwise stellar game. Yes, it can be beaten in a rental period, but this is one of those games you want to buy, to show off to your friends as an example of the best that video games have to offer. With so many quality games coming out in such a short time, Prince of Persia deserves to be near the top of the list, it's among the best games released all year, and if you are a fan of games at all, you owe it to yourself to play it. You won't be disappointed.

- - Darken Rahl

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