2008 Reviews

Prince Of Persia

  • Review Date: 2012-06
  • Release Date: 2008-12
  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Rating: 6.0

Prince Of Persia is a great example of review websites not having a damn clue about what makes a good game - or they're all paid by Ubisoft to give positive reviews.

In fact a number of Ubisoft developed games have been over-rated lately; Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, Assassin's Creed and now Prince Of Persia. Honestly, IGN... a 9.3/10?!

POP is the biggest button masher I've played so far in my gaming career. The puzzle jumping is primitive and childish, the combat is awful. Only the amazing looking levels proper this game to anything above a 5/10.

I'll start with the issues with the gameplay. Firstly, if you really intend to play this game, do some study into the combo's. I didn't bother and it took quite a good part of the game before I started to learn what combo's work and finding Elika (you're side-kick) is a necessity during combat.

There are 24 levels in POP split into four episodes. It's very good in that you can choose which episode to go to at any time and even skip levels that are locked. To unlock levels you need to collect light speeds - basically balls of light scattered throughout completed levels you have to walk through - think games like Sonic or Mario collecting coins. Hell, even Pacman! Collecting the Light Seeds is stupid and boring. A poor way just to prolong the game and have you running over previously seen areas. However 2/3rds of the way through the game you'll probably have collected enough Seeds to not bother anymore, thank god.

Throughout each level you'll come across a couple enemies - yes, only a couple, and a boss. The simpler enemies would play more like bosses in another game, they have insane amounts of health and you're only quick way of actually killing them is backing them onto an edge and throwing in a successful combo. This could take 15 seconds or 10 minutes. It's just the luck of the draw whether they block you during an attempted combo. Admittedly I didn't really know enough combo's - same problem as Assassin's Creed - so I might have struggled a bit more than I could have. But why should I have to study combo combinations to master this game? I just want to play it, not memorize keys.

The way the combat works is far more successful than Assassin's Creed though. You have your sword attack, block, gauntlet attack and your side-kicks attacks, so it had a good base for a successful combat system. But Ubisoft screwed it up throwing in nothing but mini-boss and boss battles. POP would have been a far better game if it did away with collecting Seeds and populated the levels with more varied and weaker enemies. And of course didn't throw you into a platform style combat mode whenever your sword is drawn.

Then there's the boss battles themselves. At least 25 of them, many just weakening the enemy enough so they can escape and you fight them again at the end of the next level. In this case most of the bosses are a straight out fight, you can't knock them over any edges (apart from the episode 4 boss but he's much harder to do this to). So you end up dying over and over again during boss fights, just slowly getting their health down. In POP you can't completely die. Each time you die your side-kick brings you back to life and the boss gets a little of their health back. So this makes the boss battles long and tedious.

A lot of players criticised the fact that you can't die saying it makes the game too easy. I think it's fine with this feature. Without the game would be damn near impossible without a quicksave. I probably died more times in POP than I would in ten normal shooters. That's not to say that you don't try, because when you do die you have to start jumping sequences over and bosses get health back, so you don't end up being sloppy, unlike in Bioshock.

To go into more detail regarding the jumping sequences and puzzles, it's a simple case of pressing the right key at the right time. Almost as basic as Guitar Hero. In fact without the combat in this game, POP would be a children's game. The jumping is basic and primitive. But it is exhilarating watching the character making leaps across chasms or between structures way up in the sky. Tomb Raider definitely had a more skilled approach to it's jumping where you have to actually think about what you're doing.

As I mentioned above, the design in POP is fantastic. The levels are huge and vast, and there's a lot of them to show different themes and styles. Parts of the game are also cel-shaded, which makes the characters look very good. It's a shame a game that looks this good couldn't have had more successful gameplay. But the design is really the reason I kept playing. Once I got to the final level and I realised there were no more pretty environments to look at, I quit. Yes, I didn't even finish the final battle - I just couldn't go through another 20 minutes of crappy and more difficult jumping sequences and boss combat. I did watch it on youtube, so know exactly what I missed wasn't much.

The only criticism I do have with the design, however, is that all the levels seem to be strange jumping-puzzle structures. They're not realistic at all. How did anyone actually live in these temples and cities when they're just a series of jumps over and over again.

So overall, poor choices with repetitive boss combat and repetitive, dumbed-down jumping can't save a good looking game. And the story you're practically thrown into before you can blink was nothing to anticipate a sequel for.