More than a year after the Prince of Persia trilogy wrapped with the awesome Two Thrones, the acrobatic adventure has squeezed its way onto the PSP with Prince of Persia: Rival Swords. Essentially just Two Thrones with a surprising amount of new content shoehorned in, Rival Swords isn't just one of the best Prince of Persia games - it's one of the best PS2-to-PSP transitions we've played yet.
Unlike a lot of other PS2 ports we could name, with their choppy framerates and impossible cameras, the action and controls in Rival Swords are pretty close to flawless. The Prince bounces around the game's precarious environments with the same fluid grace he does in the full-sized versions, and guiding him up the game's impossible structures and past its giant deathtraps is somehow even easier. Granted, moving the camera around still gets awkward, but that's more than offset by the new levels, multiplayer modes and other extras that got stuffed into this edition.
Like Two Thrones, Rival Swords opens with the Prince returning home to Babylon to find it in flames. It seems that by mucking around with the past in PoP: Warrior Within, he's unwittingly resurrected one of his greatest enemies. Said enemy sacks Babylon and unleashes the deadly Sands of Time, turning his soldiers into monsters. Now Babylon is infested with sand zombies, the Prince is hunted through the streets and, worst of all, he's lost his shirt again.
Despite the downer of an opening, Rival Swords marks a return to the lighter, more adventurous tone of The Sands of Time, as well as to the puzzles that made that game great. There are still plenty of enemies to fight, but now there's a much greater focus on leaping, running and climbing your way through baroque deathtraps. These bits are challenging, but the solutions are usually obvious enough to not break your momentum as you hurtle through them. And if you screw up, the Prince can slow down or reverse time, letting you undo any boneheaded mistakes.