2010 Reviews

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

  • Review Date: 2014-05
  • Release Date: 2010-05
  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Rating: 6.5

I couldn't finish this game. There are 27 levels, I got to the start of level 24. I realised I was just hating it so much, I'd rather be outside scraping my face against the concrete than force myself through this piece of shit game any longer. At that point I'd got to a battle against a horde of weaklings but also two larger mini-boss type characters that charge at you and you clumsily try to roll out of the way - which never seemed to work. Most of the time you wouldn't even see them coming because the camera is pointing fuck knows where. Two of these chargers getting you at once and it's instant death. I tried this battle about ten times and wasn't even close to completing it, and I knew as soon as I defeated them that another miniboss was up next.

I put it down a difficulty level (to easy!!!) and for some reason that wiped all my extra health and skills, which still made it too hard! Only one save spot in this game meant I was fucked, I couldn't even get them back.

But the sad thing is the combat is the easier, more fun part of TFS. What's really frustrating are the puzzles. I say puzzles, but they're really one obstacle course after another, there are only a few situations that are puzzle-like in TFS. By the time you get past the halfway point in this game the obstacle courses (I refuse to call them puzzles form here on out) really kick it up a notch. The problem is, they're not what make the game difficult. Instead it's the terrible controls, forcing you to push far too many keys at once in perfect sequential timing, combined with terrible camera angles. With one hand on the mouse, your other on the keyboard, unless you're used to using extra mouse buttons on your mouse you'll have trouble. Up to all five fingers holding or pressing keys, then having to switch mid jump at the perfect time. My poor left hand really did not enjoy this game much. The biggest culprit was having to hold down the key for freezing water, used a lot in the second half the game, along with holding down a key for wall runs. Freezing water was a great feature, but what a pain in the ass having to hold keys down. Then there's the fall-to-your-doom shit that occurs if you don't do things at the perfect time, particular turning a wall run into a jump, which a good amount of times just doesn't work because of the unresponsiveness.

Another great feature, being able to rewind time a limited number of times, saves you a lot. But unfortunately when you rewind you need to be pressing the exact same keys when you resume. Try to do that while you're wall running and it just doesn't work, the hero just falls off to his death. So when you are forced to replay from checkpoint a lot, you'll realise another great mistake in TFS - the checkpoints are too far apart. The recent Lara Croft game got checkpoints right, TFS gets them wrong, putting them only after every few obstacles. If you're having trouble with a certain sequence and have to replay it a number of times, which did happen on occasion, I also had to replay a few jumping sequences leading up to the trouble-some sequence. Over and over again. This is the type of game where Ubisoft really needed massive testing to make sure everything was optimised, and put checkpoints in right before difficult sequences.

The cameras are another major issue, constantly forcing fixed angles. The problem is when they change direction, or are at a direction where you can't really tell whether you should be jumping forwards or sideways, or both. Wall running is the biggest issue, you'll constantly just hit the side of the platform because of the awkward camera angles, forcing you to run both forwards and sideways just to mount the fucking wall.

The previous game in the PoP franchise had enough problems to sink a ship, most of it related to combat. This new game really shifts the gameplay back to earlier titles, but screws up some really simple things. But what the 2008 game still had going for it was impressive graphics, some of the best of 2008. TFS is a massive let-down. There's really nothing in this game that stands out. Every level is indoors in large, vertical temple-like environments, Tomb Raider-escue, but less impressive. I do have to wonder how much this game was rushed out in order to release in conjunction with the PoP movie. If the game looked great, I would have actually continued playing just for the visuals.

But it was pretty average looking, so it left me with a game full of moments where I just felt like smashing my fists down onto the keyword. I really, really resisted the urge a number of times. I'm surprised so many people found this game fun. For me it literally gave me headache.

One last note: there are a few game-ending bugs. There's the infamous bug of respawning into an inescapable room should you die at a certain time (which I never got up to) but for me it was a boss fight where the boss just spun around in circles and was invisible to my attacks. I had to use someone elses save game to continue.

Ubisoft did a poor job of the latest Splinter Cell, now another poor job of Prince of Persia.

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands