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  • Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

    Ubisoft had a Steam sale recently, and I picked up Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands for $6.79. To be honest, I'd completely forgotten it existed, but I'm a huge fan of the Prince of Persia series, despite my dislike of the combat in Sands of Time and the bullshit emo bastardry in Warrior Within. If I were going to sum up Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands in two words, they would be these:

    Upsettingly Awesome.

    I won't say too much about the plot, since it follows the basic formula: Prince fights his way to a Treasure Man Was Not Meant To Touch, thousands of sand-demons pour into the world and kill everyone, and it's up to the Prince to jump, wall-run, and stab his way to putting the jack back in the box.

    The Good:

    PoP:TFS is a finely-executed example of the puzzle-platformer genre in general and the Prince of Persia franchise in specific. Unlike the 2008 reboot. Forgotten Sands seems to bring us back to the main story of the Prince from the Sands trilogy (now perhaps a quadrilogy).

    Throughout the game, the Prince gets the powers of Freeze, Flight, and Rememberance. Each of these enhances the Prince's ability to navigate the puzzle sections of the game. For instance, the Freeze power allows you to freeze running water in place, so that you can swing on horizontal spouts of water, jump onto a column of water, or wall-run on waterfalls.

    The addition of new powers at strategic points in the game does a fantastic job of preventing a stale feeling in the puzzle sections. There are only so many ways you can string together wall runs, wall climbs, column-jumps, and horizontal bars before the exercise becomes tedious, so the addition of puzzle elements that can be altered in mid-flight brings a dramatically epic feel to the game.

    Additionally, the developers at Ubi apparently realized that spending five minutes shuffling across a ledge is not how people want to spend their time. The Prince is now quite fast at maneuvers where he used to crawl.

    The writing is constantly amusing, and the soundtrack is epic enough to fit the fact that you'll oftentimes be jumping through a waterfall to swing on a frozen water spout, reverse your direction, then run up the frozen waterfall to fly yourself to a vulture, which you then stab, jump back through the now-permeable waterfall to land on a piece of scenery that wasn't there a moment ago.

    The Bad:

    Combat isn't a crippling defect like it was in Sands of Time, but it's still got issues. Most notably, some enemies glitch out of the way when using the power of Flight to cross large distances. You make it across the gap, but because the enemies are designed to only be attackable through the power of Flight, they keep lobbing grenades at you, and when you try to attack them again, likely as not you'll fall off the cliff and have to rewind time.

    Experience generates a touch slowly. Advanced abilities are locked until you complete the perquisites, and you won't fill up the grid enough to get everything you want on the first play-through. This is because the diversion you would normally take to get bonus experience often seems like the main path choice, and you'll find yourself bypassing the bonus in the act of actively trying to get it.

    The Ugly:

    Camera controls. If I had a dime for every time I died (or had to rewind time) trying to leap across a gap and having the prince jump diagonally out into space because of the camera angle, I would have made a profit on the game. Having the rewind power does mitigate the frustration, because you can have up to eight tries at a jump, but every once in a while this just isn't enough.