One of the most memorable gaming experiences I’ve ever had in gaming was the time I spend with the original Xbox version of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The charming, lithe, acrobatic Prince who starred in that version of the game was the perfect extension of the “you’ve only got one hour to beat this” Prince of Persia that haunted the dreams of my childhood. It was a phenomenal continuation of the series, with a brilliant story, delightful dialog, and combat/platforming action that stood alone and unchallenged as my favourite third-person action-adventure for years.
With the release of the next-generation Prince of Persia I was hoping we’d see a return to form with an upgrade on the visual front. While the game wasn’t bad, per se, it wasn’t Sands of Time… and worse yet, it wasn’t even the same Prince. While I love Nolan North, the work he did in that game wasn’t his best–and it’s the general conclusion of the Internet community at large (you know how they can be) that his interpretation of the Prince was a total D-bag.
Which is why playing Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is both a blessed relief and a complete joy. The Prince, my Prince, is BACK!
Next generation. For reals this time.
The first thing you’ll notice about Forgotten Sands is that it’s gorgeous. Like, downright gorgeous. The game (on PS3) plays at 720p, and there are moments that feel a little low res. Heck, there’s even some screen tearing. But you won’t care; the development team put the Assassin’s Creed II engine to amazing use, building a world that you’ll love exploring, and that feels so delightfully real. The Prince isn’t running and climbing on the world anymore, he’s actually in it. It’s subtle to see, but the impact is huge.
The game’s audio is multi-channel, and everything from combat to the Uplay bonus system hangs out in the rear channels. You can hear enemies winding up from behind “you” and ambient noise makes it incredibly immersive. I found the vocals a little low, so I notched the music and sounds down a bit to give them a boost. I was disappointed when I couldn’t turn subtitles on from the in-gameplay options menu, but it’s there when you pop out to the main menu.
I’ve always been a bit controlling.
The interface is easy to use, and the controls are uber-tight. If you loved the combat in Sands of Time you’re going to eat up the combat in Forgotten Sands. This is the same prince (before the events of Warrior Within) so it’s enjoyable to see him engaging in the signature moves from Sands. It really works. Chaining attacks together takes strategy – you can button mash if you want, but playing with some style is so much more rewarding.
Ask me if Forgotten Sands is a good game. Go on. Ask me.
Yes. Yes, yes, YES, YES! Ubisoft has been on a roll this year with Assassin’s Creed II, Splinter Cell: Conviction, and now Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands. If you’re wondering whether or not to spend your cash on it now, it absolutely gets my vote. It’s just flat out great, and that’s a fact. You can take this review with a grain of salt (it looks like some of the other review sites out there don’t agree with me) but all I can tell you is that I haven’t been this happy with the prince since 2003.