The zombies will continually try to surround you (which, to be fair, puts them all within easy button-mash striking distance), but in addition to slashing away wildly at them, you can jump onto their shoulders and hop across them to safety, or just roll out of their way. It’s not quite God of War, but it’s surprisingly fun for a series in which combat was too often a chore.
Zombie grunts aren’t your only enemies, either; as you progress through the game, you’ll run afoul of shield-bearing creatures (who have to be stunned with a kick before you slash them), sand wizards who can summon more zombies until you kill them, beefier zombies (who we’re going to guess are called “brutes”) and huge, charging behemoths that can only be hurt by charged power slashes after they’ve crashed headfirst into walls.
Above: Or, failing that, into each other
Every once in a while, you’ll even face down against some super-tough giant with a big sword and an arsenal of knockdown moves. While these fights are visually impressive, winning them rarely takes more than knowing when to roll away, and when to persistently hack at their ankles until they drop to their knees, stunned, and leave themselves open for a finishing aerial slash.
Above: Even main villain Ratash is kind of a pushover – until he starts throwing knockdown fireballs while you’re trying to climb, that is
Part of what makes combat enjoyable is that, as you earn experience, you’ll be able to unlock and improve magic-based moves that enable the Prince to blast out waves of ice, leave a fiery trail that burns anything that touches it, summon a set of stone armor when his health gets low and – most useful of all – slam the ground to create a whirlwind that knocks enemies down at first, but eventually gets powerful enough to just disintegrate them.
Combat powers aren’t the only special abilities the Prince has up his sleeve; as the game unfolds, he’ll also unlock the ability to temporarily freeze jets of water, turning them into poles he can climb or horizontal bars he can swing from. Here’s a look at how it works (along with a quick demonstration of powered-up combat):
Later in the game, the Prince will also be able to air-dash at distant enemies to reach the platforms they’re standing on, and late in the game will even have to “recall” missing chunks of ruins (which appear as shiny outlines) so that he can use them to get where he’s going. The game’s absolute best puzzles force you to use all these abilities in rapid succession, something that – again, when you pull it off just right – looks amazing.
Story and character have always been vital parts of the Prince of Persia series, so we should probably take this opportunity to say why the Prince gets all these cool powers, and why he’s fighting sand zombies again. An interquel set between the events of Sands of Time and its maligned sequel, Warrior Within, Forgotten Sands begins with the Prince traveling to see his older brother, Malik, only to find that Malik and his palace are being invaded by some unidentified army.
Above: Not much of a family resemblance, really
To fend off the invaders, Malik awakens the ancient Army of Solomon sealed away beneath the fortress, which turns out to be a cursed, disease-like plague of zombies that multiply whenever they touch sand. The Prince and Malik – protected by a magical pair of amulets – then have to work to contain and ultimately destroy the menace.