Monday, April 09, 2007

Prince of P(ain)ersia

That’s it?

No, really, that’s it?

This was pretty much my reaction as I finished Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I remember this game to be vastly praised by players and critics alike, so you can imagine my disappointment as I fought my way through to the end of it.

But let’s start by the beginning shall we? The basic story is that a treacherous grand vizier (what a surprise!) allows the sands of time to be captured by the prince’s father’s army, and later tricks the Prince to release the sands, against warning from a beautiful princess, turning everyone except the Prince, the princess and the vizier into undead.
And… I’ve pretty much just told you the plot for the remaining 95% of the game and we still just played the first five minutes of this 10 hour game.


Then we progress to fight some bad guys, then solve a puzzle, then we fight bad guys, then puzzle, bad guys, puzzle, etc… etc…

Really! Would it be so hard to actually fight bad guys while traveling between several points to solve one puzzle? Would it be so tricky as to make a puzzle that spawned more than one room? *Sight…*

Now let’s talk about the fights shall we? Early on, you only need to button mash and the guy will do a lot of cool looking things. Later on, half those tricks won’t even work against your enemies, causing you to spend most of your time holding block and then hope to hit someone as you strike with your sword while some three or four other enemies strike at you. Yes, three or four, no matter how many you killed, more will spawn, and no enemy will die unless you stab them while they are on ground, because if you don’t they will rise again.

And the beauty of it is that you need to kill all of them to have access to a save point and not only will you have to defend yourself but also the above mentioned princess (although she also fights).

On to the puzzles! For the most part they involve reaching tricky places through a series of jumps and running up or along walls (Really! The guy is almost as good as spider man regarding moving along walls.), the problem is that in most cases the place is infested with traps and any fall will be fatal (the traps are the easy part, by the way).

Now imagine my joy as I jumped from one wall to the other, walked over ledges, jumped from column to column or simply dangled above dangerous places and I happened to press the jump button a microsecond too late or five inches to the left.


Fortunately the Prince has this dagger that allows it to move time back a few seconds (with limited use, of course), so you can misjump again and fall into nothingness yet again. But fear not, because from the point where you don’t have the dagger is exactly the one with more falls to nothingness.

Let me put this straight. It took me about one week to get 70% through the game (mostly because I didn’t have the patience to do more than one puzzle plus fight at a time), then I make a break and decided to replay Soul Reaver 2, which I finished in 3 days and felt like it was short (although it is another 10 hour game). It took me 2 days to get past the last 10% of this game! And the only reason I did was because it was the last 10%.

Now that I bashed the gameplay, let’s take another look at the plot.

I’ve made it clear how cliché it is by now. And in fact the only time where it appeared to have a chance to become interesting only ends up by spawning one of the most annoying puzzles ever seen and is in fact a dream sequence which adds absolutely nothing to the plot.

The Prince/princess relationship is also dully clichéd, since although the story takes place during one day, it is sufficient for them to fall deeply in love and the prince actually considering proposal, although the dynamic between the two are among the very few good things of the game.

The game’s atmosphere is nice, but also one of its weak points. There is no evolution! The game takes place all in the same place and even as one progresses there isn’t an increase in tension. And considering that by midgame you’ve pretty much faced every type of enemy, the only way to know you’re closer to the ending is that the save screen tells you what percentage of the game you finished.

I can only compare this game to one of hollywood’s summer blockbusters, looks cool, lot’s of cool effects, but shallow and clichéd.

Through all the bashing, let me tell you this is not necessarily a bad game, but it was highly overrated.

Oh, and it has one of the most pointless and anticlimactic endings ever seen.