Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Saved Data #2: Prince of Persia (4)

 Huh. Deja Vu. I could've sworn I just wrote an impression of Prince of Persia.

Please stay with me, I swear this won't be (too) long. And if it is, there's lots pretty pictures to look at! I just figured that while I was on a roll I should post this in relation to some of the elements I talked about loving in one of the first of this franchise. I know there's Sands of Time (which I have managed to play a little of), but I haven't been able to get a hold of a copy for myself and Warrior Within didn't really cut it for me.
What I love about this Prince of Persia game is the attention to detail. And the new spins on the classic parts of the game's storyline. The turbaned Prince returns and much like the old Prince of the 1989-1990 version is a vagabond. 

I felt a wave of nostalgia playing as this Prince for sure! The Princess (Elika) was a nice addition as the Prince's bantering companion AI and despite a few cheap-ass spots that gave me trouble, is not as head-bashingly annoying as some NPCs that we're forced to be paired up with in games such as this. The tag-team element that Elika brings to the table is a lot of fun.
 Did I mention witty banter? There's tons of chemistry between her and The Prince and it was refreshing to see a couple of characters who progressively got to know each other over the course of the storyline in the game. Sometimes I feel as though female love interests are just attractive to their male counterparts because they look pretty and need saving. Not that Elika doesn't need some saving, but the nice twist is that sometimes (okay, a lot of the time, if you fudge up as many times as I do during the game's tougher spots) The Prince needs saving too ;)  Plus the idea of spinning in some of Persia's Zoroastrian creation myths of Ormazd and Ahriman was very interesting to me and added a lot of depth to the world the characters inhabit. Ormazd being the god of light that, in the game appears to be silent to the pleas of the land which is plagued by Ahriman, Ormazd's brother and god of darkness. The game's storyline consists of you running around to the lands infected by Ahriman's forces and driving them out via Elika's fancy powers (which have a rather dual aspect as well). The exploration of these lands via the usual acrobatics of the PoP franchise, coupled with lots of crank puzzles and tag-team battling make up more than 90% of the gameplay. Which is quite enjoyable (excepting the  'Epilogue' in the Forgotten Palace).

In fact, Ubi Soft Montreal really pulled out all the stops with this one, regarding art direction and story development. The art is very illustrative and graphic novel-like and even retains some of it's paint-sketch qualities from the lovely concept art on purpose. The sweeping landscapes and varied colour palettes were very refreshing as well. I cannot tell you how relieved I am that there are still game developers out there that are not afraid to use colour in their concepts. Also, the soundtrack is quite lush and cinematic, but in a more subtle way. Jordan Mechner's love of Old Hollywood adventure movies definitely shows a lot here.
There were a few rough edges (particularly story-wise) that bugged me quite a lot, such as the redundancy of certain levels. Particularly the ones with a lot of crank puzzles. They're innovative at first until you realize that there's so many of them. It's not enough to knock the love I have for this supposed reboot of the series.  I think it's biggest downfall for me was the double cliffhanger ending (I know mostly everyone's played the game, but I want to mention as few spoilers as possible anyway) which seemed to me like a way to get a couple extra bucks out of the player. The so-called 'Epilogue' of the game that you can purchase on the Playstation Store was mostly just a big ol' rehash of game play and nothing else new save the new location of The Forgotten Palace. The DS game (the one with the chibi version of the Prince) is independent as far as I know and it's debateable whether or not they will finish off this storyline. However, I don't surf the net as much as I used to these days and I may have missed a post somewhere about there being a continuation of this incarnation of the series. So far all I've seen is reports on Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.
So if you weren't as into the Warrior Within cycle and are looking for a story-driven, beautifully rendered game, check out Prince of Persia (4). It's worth your time. Very short too, which can be a drawback for some, but honestly sometimes you need a short game. Especially if you don't have too much free time on your hands. This is (excluding some of the later levels) a relaxing and inspiring addition to the series.

Similar Games: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, any of the team Ico games, any of the Vanillaware games.
(All images referenced from Creative Uncut)

Let's meet at the next Save Point!