Combat’s always been the weakest part of Prince of Persia, but Forgotten Sands aims to reinvent it entirely. While the last-gen trilogy focused on acrobatic fights against small groups, and the 2008 reboot narrowed that down to focused duels against single, powerful enemies, Forgotten Sands will fly completely in the opposite direction by pitting the Prince against up to 50 opponents at a time.
While it sounds suspiciously like Dynasty Warriors, the combat we saw has the potential to be really interesting. Because the Prince isn’t a tank, surviving the fights means he’ll have to keep moving constantly, trying to control and draw the crowd of baddies in directions that’ll make them easier to fight (the crowd’s movement actually looked a little like Pikmin would, if the Pikmin were all trying to kill you).
Ideally, he’ll be able to chain together combos by darting between his enemies, slicing through them one after the other as each one drops its guard to attack. And in addition to slashing his way through their ranks – now done with only a single sword, which you’ll be able to upgrade – he can kick, roll and even hop across their heads and shoulders to move from one side of the crowd to the other. And when things get really rough, he has a “shield” power that can knock away enemies with a single burst, or even generate a big tornado to do more serious damage.
All these abilities will come in especially handy during the boss battles. The one we saw – against a huge creature called the Charger – seemed like a pretty standard, gimmick-based fight, the gimmick being that you need to trick the Charger into slamming into walls so you can hit it while it’s stunned. But it still looked like fun, as the Prince kept nimbly dodging out of the Charger’s way, which for its part was plowing through crowds of its friends in an attempt to squash him.
Elika, the princess who hung around the 2008 Prince, obviously won’t be returning this time around. Neither will this Prince’s former squeeze, Farah (so far as we know, anyway). But having a reliable, relatable female friend along has become one of the franchise’s strongest identifying traits, and so the Prince will rely on Razia, a djinn who grants him his new magical powers. She won’t be a sidekick, like Elika and Farah were, but will instead take on a sideline role, guiding the Prince through the adventure.
Above: We don’t have a picture of Razia to show you, but we’re betting that portal has something to do with her
Sure, his vest-like armor, dark emo hair and sour expression might make him look identical to his appearance in Sands of Time’s widely reviled sequel, but this isn’t the brooding anti-hero publisher Ubisoft thought we wanted in 2004. Instead, he’s closer to the lighthearted kid from Sands of Time, and is voiced by the same actor who played him in Sands, Yuri Lowenthal.
However, you don’t go through an experience like Sands of Time and come out completely unchanged. This Prince is more of a realist – not a brooder, but not a happy-go-lucky optimist, either. But he’ll be at least a partial return to what was interesting about Sands of Time, and with any sort of luck, Forgotten Sands will be, too.
Feb 19, 2010