[8bit Review] Prince of Persia (2008)

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Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Website: www.princeofpersiagame.com

The Intro-
Ubisoft Montreal follows Team Ico’s trailblazing lead, hits crouch, silently sneaks up on them, pickpockets their innovative gameplay design, and is trying to sell it to you as a new and improved Prince of Persia. At first glance one might praise all the of “chances” that Ubisoft Montreal took in creating their most recent Prince of Persia game. Once you get past the cell shaded sheen though, you realize that this is just barely a shell of a game that has heavily borrowed from Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and Zoroastrianism. With a non existent difficulty level and a storyline that is almost as complex as Mario Galaxy, Prince of Persia, is all beauty and no brains…

The Good-
Prince of Persia is a visually stunning game. From the very first frames the game presents the player with almost limitless eye candy. If you were merely looking to show off the range of your new HDTV this game would be an instant purchase. The cell shading and character designs are top notch, even if the prince seems a little too roided out these days. The play area itself if gorgeous, complete with epic vistas and minute details such as dust falling from the walls you slide across. The only other high note in this game is your companion, Elika. She truly is one of the great video game side kicks of all time. Her presence allows for the prince to take place in Han Solo vs Princess Lea like banter. The dialog between these two is often funny and occasionally informative about the characters motivations and their history. You never have to talk to Elika, but you would be missing out on one of the game’s highlights (not to mention a couple of achievements) if you choose not to.

The Bad-
There is absolutely no variation in gameplay. There are no standout moments at all, whether we are talking about the story or the mechanics of the game. It all comes across as the same tepid unremarkable experience. Playing through Prince of Persia is equivalent to taking a nice afternoon nap, and then being charged 60 dollars for it. I am not adverse to platformers in the least, but when the challenge is sucked out there is no reward awaiting me on the highest peak other than an enforced Achievement. Another irritating aspect of the game is the fighting mechanics. Sword fighting should be a joy, not a hindrance like it is here. The fighting relies too heavily on quicktime button presses, and lets face it this type of gameplay is tiresome and dated. Reviewers need to draw a line. They skewer something like Spiderman Web of Shadows for quicktime events and blissfully ignore it with Prince of Persia. It is the gameplay equivalent of the snorri cam and it is time to move on.

The Ugly-
The story is just terrible. The platforming is too repetitive. There is no challenge what so ever. The prince is a D-bag. There is no replay value. The fighting is garbage. Last but not least…you can’t take your sword out for any reason outside of combat. You see that nice grass over there? Want to cut it? Too bad, your sword is locked in your pants. You want to hit Elika in the face and make her say “hey stop it”?, guess what…no dice. Your sword is for fighting, not for playing with. I can’t tell you how many times I ran around in Twilight Princess swinging my sword to pass the time. It is juvenile yes, but it makes the boring parts of travel interesting. It is a shame the developers of this game never realized that having a sword is cool and that you should be able to play with it.

The End-
I realize that I have been hard on Prince of Persia, but I can’t just give this a pass because Ubisoft made it. It is not commendable that they have started from scratch. They hit the reset button because the past two iterations of the Prince have failed. They listened to the critics and tried to recapture the magic of Sands of Time by ripping from Team Ico in a think tank fueled by espresso and greed. It is time to put this series to bed. If anyone thinks otherwise, I hope they enjoy their free copy of Prince of Persia: The Quest for Farah (now with co-op).

[8bit Take]: Don’t take this trip even if it’s free