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The Immortal Imperial – Prince of Persia Reviewed

                                                    The Prince defies gravity and fashion in his latest adventure.

In 2003, Ubisoft managed to revitalize the Prince of Persia franchise, taking the game from its two dimensional roots on Apple II computers, and bringing the Prince into the third dimension for the Playstation 2, Xbox and Gamecube consoles. This reinvisioning, subtitled Sands of Time, was successful enough to warrant two sequels, The Warrior Within and The Two Thrones. Unfortunately, the sequels emphasized combat as much as the exhilaration of movement, and subsequently failed to improve upon the original game.

Five years later, Ubisoft has rejuvenated the series once again with a gorgeous, high definition reboot, which shows the power of our now-gen systems. However, even more remarkable that the exhibition of graphical finesse, is the title’s shift in fundamental gameplay concepts. This Prince of Persia seeks the admiration of a kingdom of casual gamers; the game forgoes any of the frustration found in most modern platformers. PoP is a game to be experienced and enjoyed, and offers little in the way of traditional game challenge.


                                                   “Eat sword, you top-hat wearing freak.”

As the game opens, our protagonist is pursuing a lost donkey carrying a king’s ransom in gold. While in the desert, a vicious sandstorm erupts, plunging the young Prince into the path of Elika, a mysterious princess who is fleeing from her father’s guards. It seems Elika’s father had destroyed the Tree of Life, thus releasing the malicious deity, Ahriman. It becomes the newly formed duo’s quest to restore the kingdom and subdue the spiteful god.

As with previous games, the Prince moves with both fluidity and grace as he traverses the game’s environments. For series veterans, the first half hour may seem peculiar. Accustomed to the multitude of button-presses required to scale walls, we were initially taken back by the simplified control scheme. Within minutes we readjusted to the input method, realizing that Ubisoft sought clarity and ease in the player control scheme. Periodically, the sensation of control was removed altogether, as we felt like we were watching, not directing the Prince’s actions.

As Elika accompanies the Prince throughout the adventure, she’ll be saving his royal posterior repeatedly (Although there is an achievement/trophy offered for finishing the game with less than a 100 saves). Miss a jump, and she’ll wisk you back to the nearest platform. Get lost, and she’ll offer a beam of light to illuminate the direction you should be heading.  With her assistance, Elika allows you to cross vast chasms via a double jump. We’ve never seen a cohort as useful Elika before, and as such the player develops an emotional attachment to the character stronger than any of the relationships with sidekicks seen in Fable II or Fallout 3.

                                              “Alright, who let the kids use the pool, again?”

One interesting design decision centers on character development. Most games force the player to sit through cinemas when the designers decide it’s time to move the plot along. However, in PoP, Elika will request the Prince’s attention by an on-screen button prompt. If players want to converse with Elika, they may, or they may simply choose to ignore her request. It’s a thoughtful option that we haven’t seen successfully employed since the narrative tidbits scattered throughout Bioshock’s environment.

Inon Zur’s and Stuart Chatwood’s score is reminiscent of the work of Hans Zimmer, and accompanies the game superbly. Graphically, Prince of Persia is dreamlike, lush, and varied; with locales so picturesque, they may briefly detract you from your objective. More than a few times we stopped to admire the beauty shown by the game. Sadly, some of the Prince’s dialogue is painfully anachronistic; he sounds more modern day Californian, than ancient Middle Eastern royalty. His arrogance and ignorance prohibit the Prince from being a likable character, and impede any hopes for idenification with the player.

Overall, Prince of Persia represents a wonderfully executed reboot of a celebrated franchise. Geared as much for the casual gamer as the series fan, the title sidesteps many of the trappings of the traditional platformer, but also eliminates much of the challenge. Still, it’s hard to knock an experience as dazzling and enjoyable as this one; when other games frustrate, we could see ourselves returning to Persia.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

58 comments

  1. Cool, great review.

  2. I was going to buy this but Target didn’t get the game in.

  3. I like that Gamestop gave the collector’s edition for the same price.

  4. No challenge, no buy. I don’t see what the point is, if you can’t die.

  5. I got it today and I haven’t stopped playing it.

  6. I don’t really like the look of the game from the pics. Call me crazy.

  7. I’m going to have to wait until 2009 to buy this one.

  8. I heard a bit of the music from a Youtube vid. I really liked it.

  9. Another A grade game? You guys are killing me.

  10. The Artist Known as 7

    Great review

  11. I think you’re missing the point. The devs are trying to change the way games are being played. They’re trying to eliminate frustration.

  12. I bet this will drop in price within two months. I can wait.

  13. Last great game of 2008?

  14. Hows the framerate? I heard the PS3 version crashes

  15. Yeah, I have the PS3 version and it did crash once in about four hours of play. I figured I was jumping to place I wasn’t supposed to.

    Framerate is pretty solid. I was two bits of slowdown.

  16. Don’t blame the site, blame the industry. This game is getting great reviews all over.

  17. No framerate issue whatsoever on the 360. I’m two hours in.

  18. Just picked it up. Nice review!!!

  19. I don’t know if I’ll like the new changes made to the game.

  20. Got this for $40. $50 with a ten dollar gift card. Score!

  21. Sounds great. Your review was pretty good and answered most of my questions with the game.

    One last question: How fun is it, if you can’t die?

  22. This or Fallout will be my next purchase.

  23. I love that bottom pic. It’s beautiful.

  24. Great review. Is there any multiplayer options at all?

  25. I cant wait to play this. I’ve heard such great things about the game.

  26. After reading this review and a few others, I feel like I should rent the game before I buy it. While I appreciate the devs got rid of the instant deaths, taking the challenge out may not be the way to go, either. We shall see.

  27. I got two crashes so far on the PS3 version. About 45 minutes in.

  28. I haven’t played a game since the 2003 version. I heard the then second was was awful and third just ok.

  29. Ok, it dropped a few times, nothing major.

  30. This title just goes for the single player experience. It probably wouldn’t be as good if they went for multi, and it probably wouldn’t make sense.

  31. im jonesin to play this game the artistic style looks amazing! as far as the 2nd PoP game goes its my all time fav of the series!a bunch of people who played sands of time didnt like it though probably because of the change of theme…..middle easternish(i guess) to hardcore rock and darkness.

  32. Anyone thing they’ll royally screw up the next one?

  33. While it was good, I though SoT was better because I liked the moving through the environment better than combat.

    Just preference, I guess.

  34. Awesome review!

  35. Got it today, can’t wait to play it, after all the hype.

  36. Never got into the Prince of Persia games. This one looks good, tho.

  37. Why do I have Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” in my head after reading this review???

  38. will get when the price gets right

  39. It is a beautiful game, but I can’t help seeing Elika as more of a tool than an actual character because of how important she is to the game mechanics…

  40. I am a huge fan of the prior three games. I need to get through some backlog to play the new one.

  41. Loved the trilogy, can’t wait to play this one.

  42. the game’s very pretty and plays ok. I just wish they made it a bit more varied. The combat is very meh and the world is open but very linear…

  43. Would really like to get this game but don’t think it’s worth its current price.. but hey its Ubisoft so I shouldn’t have to wait that long.

  44. The Mirror’s Edge demo frustrated me, so this will probably be my wall-running game of ’09. I feel no rush to get it yet, since I have so many other great games to get through.

    thanks for the review, I look forward to playing this casual title…eventually.

  45. I’m so wanting this game!

  46. I want to get this game, but only when it’s 30 dollars or less.

  47. Games will always catch my attention when they have a unique art style. As a graphic designer myself you can only take so much brown and gunmetal.

  48. This looks to be a very awesome game

  49. I hadn’t really been keeping up with this iteration of the game (like another person mentioned, I played through the first of the trilogy, then never got around to the other two), so I had no idea that it was going to look so stunning. Definitely interested in picking it up at some point now.

  50. If anyone is curious to know if it has not been posted yet the 360 version of Prince of Persia is on sale this week at GameStop for US $39.99 if anyone who wants the game wants it but didn’t want to pay full MSRP for it. I would get the game if I had the money to spend but finances have been tight around our household this holiday season

  51. Glad to see that this title is keeping up with the tradition of the recent POP games. Even happier that they’ve gotten away from the things that brought down Warrior Within!

  52. Great deal. I’m in on that one. That’s the new price, right?

  53. This looks really good. Around how many hours of gameplay is there?

  54. I’m hoping this will be a good gateway for my girlfriend to enjoying games. This frustration free element sounds very appealing to people who haven’t played an action title since Super Mario World.

    I watched the GameTrailers review. From what I saw of the dialog it looks more dumbed down than the last Star Wars movie, The Clone Wars. On top of his Californian douche attitude, why would they make the protagonist this unappealing to player?

    Good review.

  55. The game looks pretty good, but I’m willing to wait until it drops to $20. Love Ubisoft, but their games drop in price so quickly that I can’t convince myself to spend $60 or even $50 at release.

  56. Excellent review, after reading it I instantly want to play it!

  57. Game sounds great, I’d love to play it!

    …for free!