Little over a year ago, the Prince was foppish, witty and charismatic. Now he's a witless cut-and-paste action hero with no discernible personality. Imagine remaking The Godfather, but having Steve Guttenburg play Michael Corleone. Or rewriting the Bible in jive talk. It cheapens the original in every respect.
Typically, no one bought the first game. They saw the cover art, saw the pantaloons, and never even bothered to play it. To remedy this, Ubisoft dunked Warrior Within into the mainstream.
Rock soundtrack? Check. Gruff-voiced anti-hero? Double check. More fighting and less mincing around in billowing strides? Triple check. It's now a bonafide consumer vacuum, and as a consequence, much of the innate and bountiful charm has been lost.
We don't blame the developers. They were probably whipped into submission by the marketing department. But the game is fundamentally quite good. The combat has been dramatically improved since Sands of Time and the Prince is now insanely flexible and has twice as many moves under his belt.
Along with new context sensitive attacks, such as being able to swing on poles, you can now string together a dizzying amount of twirling combos. You can toss enemies into each other, lop their heads off, split them down the middle, chuck them into pits, impale them, slit their throats and slash them to ribbons. Yet the combat still feels airy and light, which is ultimately the game's downfall, since you spend most of your time in the midst of battle.
The puzzles and platforming that made Warrior Within's predecessor so special have also taken a backseat to the combat. They're still there, but they're unimaginative and tedious in comparison with the first game's ingenuity.
Remember the strikingly beautiful palace from the first game? Lush Persian architecture, flowing silk and pristine hallways? Well, they've been replaced by a series of charcoal-grey castles and minging-brown caves that do little to inflame the senses.
The basic platforming and nature of the puzzles have remained the same, the combat has improved but still lacks substance, and overall we wish they'd worked on improving Sands of Time rather than taking the series in an entirely new direction. Worse than the original? Certainly, but it's far from awful. If they'd kept the character as he was, replaced the setting with something less desolate and concentrated on the running and jumping, it could've been a top contender.
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