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Prince of Persia review

Great

The first time publisher Ubisoft spoke to us about the new Prince of Persia game, we’ll admit we feared it was going to stink so badly we’d staple week-old roadkill to our faces to try to mask its smell. The super-macho Prince, always the center of this platform adventure series, is being hobbled with a new sidekick character whose help you require for basically everything? You must rely upon her to help you do your high-level attacks, to heal, or even to jump over long chasms? Considering that non-player side characters in every other game still mostly act like idiots, giving one so much power and responsibility sounds like a recipe for total disaster.

What we didn’t realize was that Elika is different. Waaaay different.

Elika is, simply and dramatically put, the smartest non-player controlled character we’ve met. She doesn’t constantly say “protect me!” then charge ahead into a swarm of enemy attackers like so many others, forcing you to into suicidal rescue missions. She doesn’t get lost or stuck. She doesn’t constantly repeat stupid things.

Not only is Elika not a burden, she’s actually helpful. If you miss a jump and find yourself plummeting Earthward, she magically plucks you from mid-air and returns you to safety. When in battle, she’ll swoop in at your command and launch you into the air for a full-gravity skullcrusher or lay down some magic. And if you’re about to get your own face caved in by a killing blow, she yanks you away so you can regroup. If you’re lost in the giant open world, she can magically point you in the right direction. And as if that isn’t enough, some of the game’s levels are only accessible once Elika – not you – has activated magical plates that enable you to fly, sprint, or super-jump to a new location.

Even with all that, many gamers will argue that the most impressive thing about Elika is how lovable she is. Not puppies and kitties lovable, or big-eyed anime super-cute and excitable lovable. We mean actually lovable, like a real woman with a realistic personality, who’s compassionate and vulnerable, but also brave and capable. Unless your heart is made of stone, she will genuinely endear herself to you and you will care deeply about her.

“Okay,” you say, “we get it – Elika’s cool. What about the rest of the game?” Well, it looks phenomenal, especially in motion. The graphics are difficult to describe – they look almost like cel shading, but with a greater level of detail and a pencil-stroke look to many of the textures. Add in the smoothness with which everything moves, and you have a simply glorious visual style.

Speaking of movement, Prince of Persia focuses much more on the process of getting from one place to another than have previous games in the series. There are few puzzles, and those that are here are fairly small in scale and simple in scope when compared to previous Prince titles. This lack of puzzles is one of the game’s few disappointments, but the new focus is still compelling. The emphasis here is on you and Elika bounding around the world like tandem free runners, pausing only to dispatch a squad of enemies or one of the four recurring bosses.

Even combat retains the game’s ballet-like style, and once you’ve latched onto the timing, you’ll be busting out sophisticated team combos with a grace that would shatter the minds of even the most talented gymnasts and martial artists. True, we would have liked to fight a greater variety of enemies. Each boss reappears several times, which is repetitive and frustrating – we want to kill bosses, not push them off a cliff or have them just run away. Plus, once you understand enemy attack patterns and the game’s slightly slower than you’d expect timing, the level of challenge decreases dramatically. This, combined with the fact that Elika literally won’t let you die, could make things feel too easy and auto-piloted for some die-hard hardcore players. But we didn’t mind, and would still recommend Prince of Persia to everyone – it’s too good, too beautiful, and too charismatic to pass up.

Dec 3, 2008

More Info

Release date: Dec 09 2008 - PC
Dec 02 2008 - PS3, Xbox 360 (US)
Dec 05 2008 - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Ubisoft Montreal
Franchise: Prince of Persia
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Alcohol Reference, Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Language
PEGI Rating:
12+

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21 comments

  • bobafett715 - December 9, 2008 4:44 a.m.

    I don't understand, if this game is so good as the review makes it seem, why does it only get an 8? The entire review is basically positive and the "you'll hates" are not that big a deal. So why does it receive an 8?
  • wiggy616 - December 8, 2008 1:23 a.m.

    i got the game a conmpleted in under 12 hours the game is good and the images are the best but i thought it was to short of a game and to easy of a game
  • mjmont92 - December 7, 2008 9:16 p.m.

    I've heard you don't really die in this game. Your partner supposedly revives you or saves you from any missed jumps. I am on the fence as well, i like some challenge in my games. I've also heard the combat system is a little too simple, and the combos, once executed, are unsatisfying. The art and graphics are outstanding. The game is a cell shaded style masterpiece.
  • Defguru7777 - December 4, 2008 1:50 a.m.

    Sounds too easy. Still, I'm loving the graphics.
  • cart00n - December 3, 2008 10:41 p.m.

    I truly wish I could afford this game right now, unfortunately times are tight at the moment. This'll have to wait till next year... You just have to give it up for the graphics, tho' - I've never seen a game as gorgeous as this one - makes me think of Frazetta oils, both detailed and expressionistic at the same time. Every trailer is a work of art. I hate having to wait for this one...
  • Shifty1001 - December 9, 2008 6:39 a.m.

    You know, I wasn't too keen on the whole "Not being able to die" thing either, but then I got to thinking... What happens when you die, in a game? You get warped back to the last checkpoint. A lot of the time, you get to retry whatever challenge you just did. Elika saving you at the last moment is *exactly* the same, except you don't actually die. You just get warped back to the last safe location. At first, not being able to die makes the game sound too easy. But think about it: Games, for the most part, try to tell a story. The illusion of being part of the story is (for me, at least) immediately broken when I see a "Game Over" screen. How many stories go something like "I tried to jump over the chasm, but I timed it wrong and fell to my death. Wait, no, I'm wrong. What actually happened was, I made it." To put it simply, this system is genius. Death, without the story-breaking Game Over screens. The game looks beautiful, too. Just thought I'd throw that in there.
  • R38P3R - December 7, 2008 5:14 a.m.

    smart to keep the assassin's creed engine.
  • Z-man427 - December 5, 2008 6:25 a.m.

    I just got it today and I have to say that the environments are just as beautiful as Elika. she's hot
  • VagrantVampires - December 4, 2008 2:24 p.m.

    I wish I had the money to get this.
  • Fenix654 - December 4, 2008 2:14 a.m.

    I was right on the fence with this one. I'm convinced it's worth buying now, thanks GR.
  • The_Dark_Lord - January 14, 2009 3:01 a.m.

    I haven't played yet, I'd really like to, but I'm wondering wether or not it's worth buying. Does it have any replay value? It sounds short, and while I coulnt agree more with shifty about dying, redundant bosses sounds like a drag. So should I buy it or rent it?
  • noobeater - January 12, 2009 8 p.m.

    well i just 'completed' it what 20 minutes ago and I'm impressed..so what you cannot die there still some good puzzles in there i personally liked the combat easy or not its better then assassins creed which i believe critics rated highly i highly recommend to anyone...although not to spoil anything but there better be a sequal and better be one soon!!!i want to give away what happens!!!
  • CreeplyTuna - May 30, 2009 11:55 p.m.

    i did not like this game. the controls were so unresponsive, it ruined the experience! if u read the back of the box, it says ur character is very agile(or nimble?) but he's slow and can't even jump that far. the reviving thing would make it too easy, but since ur dying all the time anyway, it's a little better. also,the prince was very macho. i would say rent the game before you buy, but i personally am going to return it and use the money to get prototype when it comes out.
  • IslanderSwagg - January 17, 2009 4:55 a.m.

    aww man! I was short 5 bucks today to get this game, i got Fallout 3 instead, its good but I feel like playing this game. dang!
  • The_Dark_Lord - January 16, 2009 3:46 a.m.

    So they're making a Prince of Persia Movie, The Sands of Time. Good news right? Wrong, who ever was in charge of casting needs to get fired or hit in the face with a wet noodle,(it degrades us all). The actor expected to portray The Prince is(brace yourself)...Jake Gyllenhal. If he can do it, congratulations, but I saw a couple pics, hes absent of a beard, long hair, and the tan desert-inhabiting skin that the Prince needs. I predict a box-office flop, I really hope I'm wrong, because that story has A LOT of pottential to make a great movie.
  • The_Dark_Lord - January 16, 2009 3:46 a.m.

    So they're making a Prince of Persia Movie, The Sands of Time. Good news right? Wrong, who ever was in charge of casting needs to get fired or hit in the face with a wet noodle,(it degrades us all). The actor expected to portray The Prince is(brace yourself)...Jake Gyllenhal. If he can do it, congratulations, but I saw a couple pics, hes absent of a beard, long hair, and the tan desert-inhabiting skin that the Prince needs. I predict a box-office flop, I really hope I'm wrong, because that story has A LOT of pottential to make a great movie.
  • Stevens05644 - January 2, 2009 10:27 a.m.

    bobafett just cus the game gets an 8 doesnt mean its shit it just means that it doesnt deserve a 9 or 10 so there and it says so in the review go read it again and a agree with shifty about the no dieing thing it sounds good. cant wait to get it cus i loved the other prince games.
  • GigaBowser12 - January 1, 2009 10:50 p.m.

    Looks cool but I don't like the sound of that you can't die. It's funny seeing a character plummet to his/hers death.
  • g7punkfuk25 - December 29, 2008 2:13 p.m.

    i got this game on the off chance it would be ok after all it was only 25 quid. but yea really pleased.
  • XiXPapaMoonXiX - December 26, 2008 5:24 a.m.

    Sweet game. Assassins creed esque. It deserves the score it gets because of some flaws...but other than that pretty great!

Showing 1-20 of 21 comments

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