Dune seas, marble cliffs and verdant fields serve as backdrops for the latest game to bear the title Prince of Persia, as gamemaker Ubisoft comes back from the drawing board with a surprisingly different interpretation of the platform action series.
The dark and gritty Prince of Persia: Sands of Time series, which launched on the last generation of home consoles, stood out as one of the best action-platforming titles of the last few years.
The plot of this new Prince is completely unrelated to its predecessor and feels like an Arabian Nights fairy tale by comparison. It's a more simple, narrative-based game, but it pushes the limits of art design to truly evoke a feel of wonder and beauty.
Acrobatics like swinging from poles and leaping from wall to wall return to the focus as players run and scale improbable surfaces. Navigating the puzzling environment is a big part of the game, and the grace demonstrated by the main character makes this a fun challenge. Combat is similarly stylized, with acrobatic moves that are simple to learn.
The story centers around a princess names Elika whose secret task is to defend the world from the imprisoned dark god Ahriman. The protagonist, a wandering young scoundrel pulled into the tale while searching for his lost donkey, at first seems more like a thief than a noble ruler, but he is a diamond in the rough.
The Prince and Elika find themselves an unlikely pair as they team up to defeat Ahriman's attempted escape, collecting orbs of pure light and defeating the agents of the dark god to restore the prison and save Elika's people.
One of the best parts of the game is that it concentrates on the relationship between the two main characters. The story is told through dialog between the Prince and Elika that is, for the most part, well-written and performed. By the game's final sequence, you'll come to know and possibly even miss these characters.
This is also a forgiving game. It doesn't punish you for experimenting or failing to make a leap, instead using Elika to catch the Prince and deposit him back on safe ground for further attempts.
Fans of the series will find this version different from its predecessors, but the art style and animation coupled with the excellent story and acting make this Prince of Persia a game well worth playing.
"Prince of Persia"
System: Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Windows PC
Rated: T for Teen
Who Should Buy It?: Wall runners and pole swingers
GameOn! Grade: B+
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