Review: Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones

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Sweet Moments In Gaming Number #1337:

Running along a wall, jumping to a ledge opposite, wall jumping up to another ledge, but then – eeep – you fall. With a flick of your wrist, you rewind time, undo your mistake and continue wall jumping up the wall and land behind a big guy with a sword, who you proceed to creep up upon, and before he can shout “WTF?!” you’ve already ripped out his throat and served his entrails in a doggy bag.

Ever since Ubi-Soft returned everybody’s favourite Prince to the consoles and PC three years ago in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, gamers have been enjoying some fantastic platforming fare, with the addition of control of time, all the while looking cool. Although The Sands of Time didn’t do so well, it never stopped Ubi making a second sequel, featuring a darker, gritter Prince and a Free Form Combat system, which let the Prince quite literally rip his foes limb from limb. This year, it’s time for the third (and what Ubi would have you believe, the final) game in the updated PoP series – The Two Thrones – and it has a lot to live up to.

However, it doesn’t dissapoint. Once again, players are given control of our titular hero, and he’s still acrobatic as ever, making precise wall-to-wall jumps, and showing Lara Croft how exactly to flip from ledges, along with running across walls and sliding down banners. However, the Prince has added a couple of new moves to his repetoire. New to T2T is the abilty for the Prince to stick his dagger into various holes (quiet down, you giggling in the back) in walls to give him something of a mini-ledge to grab onto, or activate various levers with said dagger. Also new this time are the inclusion of spring-loaded shutters in the walls, which the Prince can jump from while running to launch himself in a diagonal direction. If we’re completely honest here, these additions are probably a little unesscary, and are quite simply extensions to what already exsisted, however it is nice to see Ubisoft trying to update what they already have.

Perhaps more prominent of a new feature is the Dark Prince. A little plot explanation though – skip this paragraph if you don’t want any story to be revealed to you. Kileena, the Empress of Time you saved in “Warrior Within” (if you recieved the good ending ;) ) gets kidnapped early on, and as you may remember, it was her death that would cause the Sands of Time to be released. However, pretty early on in T2T, Kileena is captured and killed, and the Sands are released once more. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for the Prince, he’s in the vacinity at the time, and gets exposed to a nice (un)healthy dose of the sands himself. This creates the Fark Prince, and at various (pre-scripted) points in the game, you turn into this alter-ego, and change back to the normal Prince when ever you find water (again, pre-determined).

The Dark Prince does play quite differently to Vanilla Prince, with his sections a lot more combat focused, and with his new “Daggertail” weapon (a chain, basically) can easily take on multiple enemies at once, and it is a lot of fun whipping your chain around your head and taking out multiple enemies at once. The Dark Prince is a lot stronger than the normal one, however this comes at a price, so he is constantly being drained of his health while in this state. The only way to replinsh his health is to collect more sands. So, of course, there are several platformy bits with this in – which can be a little annoying as this “feature” actually ends up imposing a time limit on these sections. Anyone who’s played the previous versions will tell you that a lot of success in the PoP games requires trial and error. – The Dark Prince does make some sections almost frustratingly diffcult. However, he is indeed a welcome inclusion nevertheless, and you’ll enjoy fighting with him.

A lot of complaints about the first game was that the combat sections were sorely lacking, while the second game seemed to have a solid combat system, the platform bits were quite lacking. Luckily the team have hit the nail on the head in this iteration, and the combat retains most of the goodness from Warrior Within. Some moves have indeed been sacrificed, but this can be forgiven once you play with the other major addition – Speed Kills. If you sneak up undected behind an enemy, the screen will go blurry, then you must press the “Speed Kill” button. The screen will then turn black and white, and you have to press the attack buttons at the right time to execute your foes. Pull it off, and the enemy will be killed silently, with no chance for him, or his friends, to react. Fail however, and he’ll throw you off and his friends will join in the fray, leaving you to take them out the old fashioned way. The system is really implimented well, and along with new foes that can call reinforcements, is an excellent way to get gamers to be a bit more cautious when on the streets of Babylon.

Overall, the game is a fantastic end to the trilogy, and wraps up the story nicely (if you haven’t played the first two – I reccomend getting the Deluxe Edition with all three games) and the gameplay flows nicely, other platformers could learn more than a few tricks from the PoP series. The only flaws with the game is that it doesn’t quite capture the magic of the first game. Additionally, the gore and decapitations from the second game are strangely absent in the EU version of this game, and you can’t help but notice it when you play, especially as the animations are still there… However, when the gameplay sections flow in such a way that you can complete a section without really thinking about it, using only your instinct, that there’s something very, VERY right with this game.

Final Score: 88%

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