However, the overall appeal and execution of the new fighting system is certainly a pleasing step forward and an element that should provide an enhanced experience over the first game.
At the end of the boat sequence we see our first boss and it's not a humongous behemoth (we saw one of those later but he's just a sub-boss). It's a female pirate wench called Shade. Tasty with a sword and happy to hurl insults at you during your duel, this introduces the first interactive scripted event, a new element that will run through POP 2. In a similar vein to the some of the endings in the original Soul Calibur, as a cutscene plays out, you can actually manipulate the Prince.
In this case, you had to jostle as your swords clashed to impose yourself on Shade. If you fail in this, she pushes you away and you miss a section of cutscene for your puny gaming skills. While this may have limited appeal, it does exactly what Mallat's team wanted - to keep the gamer on their toes, to make the whole experience of POP 2 as interactive as possible. The usual gamer attitude during a cutscene is to down the joypad on a cushion and sit back while it plays out. In POP 2, whether a cutscene proves to be interactive or not, you won't have such luxury. No, you'll have your fingers ever-ready just in case and ultimately, that's the point.
We were treated to more fighting and witnessed new puzzles when Mallet demonstrated the latest PS2 build - naturally, it didn't look as good as the Xbox version but it was still of a characteristically POP 2 high standard. The interaction between your Sands of Time powers and puzzles is a natural, yet appreciated, evolution of elements from the first game. Even when they're as simple as slowing time for everything but the Prince - enabling you to cover the distance from a switch to a door (which is impossible otherwise) - they further involve the player in the primary abilities and puzzle appeal of the POP franchise. Of course, this also provides opportunities for Ubi Soft to create some devilish showpiece conundrums alongside the more routine posers.
Other details revealed by Mallet included Xbox Live content that will consist of downloads, a time attack mode and a stats-based challenge leader board. What's particularly neat about the online challenge mode is that you can download the current leader's ghost to see just how they did and pit yourself directly against them. A survival mode will also feature and this may, if there's time, make it into console versions.
When the Prince opened the hourglass to the Sands of Time, he set into motion a chain of events that can end in only one outcome - his death. The Prince will die in POP 2, a fact Mallat reiterated a number of times. The only thing that is uncertain is when. That will be down to you and, based on what we've seen of the game so far, it's going to be bloody good fun all the way to the grave.
Prince of Persia 2 is due out on PS2, Xbox, PC and Gamecube in November