The Prince of Persia Review
If you stop to think about it, the Prince of Persia has been around for a lot longer than a good number of today's popular gaming franchises. I, like so many others, came across the Prince years ago on my very first computer, a Compaq P.O.S.. I spent more than a few afternoons swearing at the hero, mostly for my inability to time his jumps and sword attacks in his timeless and wildly difficult first adventure. After that, I didn't see the Prince again until a few years ago, when I played (and replayed… and replayed…) The Sands of Time on PS2. The game was great, but its two sequels, Warrior Within and The Two Thrones, strayed from Sands greatness by introducing a new "dark" prince who "smoldered with generic rage (a phrase famously dreamed up by the people at Penny Arcade)." To make matters worse, the sequels came complete with a nu-metal soundtrack and samples from one of the worst bands of the past 15 years, Godsmack. After those two ridiculous disappointments, I all but swore I'd never play another Prince game.
Now that the hero has moved up to the PS3/360 era, I decided to give him one last chance. After finishing his new adventure, simply titled "Prince of Persia," I'm honestly glad I did. The new prince has his share of imperfections and annoying tendencies, but overall, this is the best we've gotten from him since his first adventure in the Xbox/GCN/PS2 days. It's not a game I can recommend to everyone, but if you're willing to give things a chance and appreciate the adventure for what it is, you'll be more than satisfied.
Prince of Persia isn't a sequel in the strictest sense; it introduces a completely redesigned main character with a different attitude, different abilities and a much different goal. This time, the prince is teamed with a mysterious, magical partner named Elika. Your goal is fairly simple on the surface - you must work with Elika to explore a massive, multifaceted world in order to restore peace and light to the land in the face of a terrible, unseen enemy. Good guy, bad guy, princess… that's all three checked off on the video game cliché list, but thankfully, the thin story only serves as a springboard for the interesting, albeit very easy gameplay. The story does get a bit more compelling as the game goes on, but there is a good chance you won't really care about the prince or Elika until the game's very last segments. And you might not even care then (I didn't).
Since the gameplay is really the star of Prince of Persia, I'll try to cover everything else first. If you've seen even just a short ad on TV for the game, you no doubt noticed the game's striking and unusual appearance. The backgrounds and environments are all somewhat realistic-looking, but the prince and Elika are presented in almost a cel-shaded manner. As weird as it sounds, it completely works. The prince and Elika stick out like sore thumbs against the less vivid backgrounds, kind of like how Roger, Jessica and the other cartoons stood out from the human backgrounds in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The game's bosses also employ the cel-shaded style, but being that they are covered in black Corruption (the goo that threatens the land), they end up looking like Venom should have in Spider Man 3. There are better looking games out there, but few come close to Prince of Persia's sense of style.