Well this has certainly been a big week with video games. With the release of Red Dead Redemption, Prince of Persia and Super Mario Galaxy 2, we’ve got a variety of games to keep any gamer busy for a while. Despite the recommendations of many followers and pretty much all of my gamer friends, I decided to purchase Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands over Red Dead Redemption for various reasons that I can discuss later, but I’m pretty happy that I went with that decision. Ubisoft went back to their roots, giving us all of the great features from The Sands of Time without any of the bullshit from some of the newer titles. Note that the story of this game has absolutely nothing to do with Jake Gylenhaal and his new movie. Released this past week for the 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP, PC, and every other system known to man, here is Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.
The story begins somewhere in the 7 year time-span between The Sands of Time and Warrior Within, and you’re playing as the same prince from both of those titles. Essentially, you’re visiting you’re brother Malik’s kingdom only to find it under attack from a massive army. As you fight off enemies and reach your brother, you find that all hope is lost as the majority of his army has been defeated. To save his kingdom, Malik decides to release ancient King Solomon’s army of skeletons to help defend his kingdom, and of course, this ends up being a terrible idea as Malik has no control over them and they begin terrorizing the kingdom.
Shortly thereafter the prince encounters a djinn who gives him magical powers to stop the army and reveals that it’s not Solomon’s army that you’re facing, but rather the army that was created by an evil Ifrit to kill Solomon. To stop them once and for all, you simply have to reunite two pieces of an amulet that you and your brother carry, but of course mayhem ensues and the task no longer becomes trivial. All in all, I thought the story was pretty good and kept me on my toes the entire time and the series of events leading up to and including the final boss fight are pretty epic!
The campaign on normal difficulty only took me about 8 hours to complete. There are also two challenge modes included; one where you have to kill 250 monsters as quickly as possible, and one where you have to survive 8 waves of monsters. I found these challenge modes kind of worthless though because once you beat them, there really isn’t any incentive to play them again, as it’s the exact same battle every time. So the game is rather short, but luckily the game-play in the campaign is so fun it merits another play-through. While there is auto-save functionality at tons and tons of checkpoints, there is no manual-save functionality to create your own save points. That kind of sucks to me because about ¾ the way through the game when you finally unlock all of your powers, the platforming starts to get crazy fun and it would have been nice to be able to save a game there and come back whenever I wanted.
Ubisoft also has a new online system called Uplay that integrates with it’s games. While playing through the game, you’ll unlock Uplay achievements that give you points that can be spent online to purchase things like an Ezio skin from Assassin’s Creed 2, a challenge level and a theme. I think this is a really cool feature as you feel rewarded for completing the achievements.
The Sands of Time was truly my favorite Prince of Persia game and The Forgotten Sands went right back to the game-play of the original. The combat is pretty simple as it typically involves spamming a single button, but once you start unlocking a bunch of spells things get pretty fun as you can take out massive amounts of enemies at once. The camera system works flawlessly as it acts exactly how you would expect it to without ever giving awkward angles. Throughout your journey a djinn will grant you four different powers: the Power of Time, which allows you to rewind a short period of time if you mess up your platforming; the Power of Flow, which freezes water so you can platform with it; the Power of Flight, which allows you to jump great distances when an enemy is waiting for you at the other end; and the Power of Memory, which allows you to reveal areas of the castle that have been destroyed over time. Once you start to get a few of these powers, the game gets really exciting as you really have to get a good rhythm going to utilize all of them together while you platform. It really makes you feel like a badass.
In addition to the primary powers the djinn gives you, there is a system built in as you gain experience that allows you to unlock various spells like whirlwind, ice attack, fire trail and stone skin, and using these in combat really spices things up and keeps it from feeling repetitive. The beginning of the game is pretty easy but once you start gaining some powers, things escalate pretty quickly. You’ve still got a limited amount of the power of rewind to help you out, but even so, you’re still going to die an awful lot! Thankfully there are a ton of checkpoints.
I thought the graphics in the game looked stunning. The entirety of the game takes place inside your brother’s castle, but seriously, the environments are fucking crazy. Who would build a crazy ass castle like this? And of course the handful of cut-scenes here and there always looks wonderful. The soundtrack compliments the levels nicely and the voice acting is outstanding. The voice actor who played the prince in The Sands of Time returned, which really brought me back to the days of playing hour upon hour of the original Xbox title. I’ve got no complaints about the presentation, everything just looks and sounds great!
Really, I just love platforming games, especially when they are done as well as The Forgotten Sands. The way that you utilize your various powers to complete the crazy ass platforming sequences is just brilliant. This game was very well designed and provides some great entertainment for the few hours that it lasts. But for that same reason, I’d probably only recommend it to be a rented title since it’s so short. Nonetheless, if you are curious to see what happens to the prince between The Sands of Time and Warrior Within and are looking for a serious on the tips of your toes challenge, you’ll probably still want to check this game out. So what game are you thinking of picking up next? Leave your questions and comments below!