Prince of Persia (2008) ReviewMay 4, 2010 at 10:05 PM | Posted in (All Posts), Reviews, Video Game Reviews | Leave a comment
Tags: Prince of Persia 2008, Prince of Persia Game Review, Prince of Persia Review
Let me go ahead and get the obvious question out of the way — why do a review for a game that came out in late 2008 in early 2010? I realize that Ubisoft has already seemingly done away with this POP universe and is planning on going back to the “Sands of Time” POP setting, but I feel that this 2008 Prince of Persia is simply worth reviewing; even if the review is a year and a half late.
The idea of video games being an art form is nothing new or revolutionary. While a large number of people still see them as electronic toys (which I wouldn’t completely disagree with), I don’t think anyone who analyzes video games for any given amount of time cannot see the potential for art. I would even go as far as to argue that video games HAVE achieved this and have been succeeding at this idea since they began.
Where am I going with this? When the most recent Prince of Persia game came out in 2008, the first thing that was noticed about it was the unique art form. Many fans of the most recent titles (Sands of Time Universe) were upset about the change in character and the changes made overall, but it served as a fresh starting point that would allow fans to enjoy the game without having any prior knowledge of the series.
I fell into that category — I had NEVER played a Prince of Persia game until just recently, and my first POP title was the 2008 game simply named Prince of Persia.
This Prince of Persia title immediately brings up two issues —
1. Why even change the storyline when the most recent titles from the Sands of Time storyline had MASSIVE success?
2. How does this game stand when not being compared to the other POP titles?
I don’t think I can begin to answer why Ubisoft Montreal (the developer) felt a change of pace was necessary, but they did. What I can do is tell you that this Prince of Persia game has zero ties to the other universe other than similar gameplay. How does it stand when not being compared to the other POP titles? THAT I can tell you.
The story opens up with your character, an unnamed tomb-raiding adventurer, looking for his lost donkey (named Farah, a reference to the Princess of the other POP games) during a sandstorm. You run into Elika, a princess who is fleeing her father’s guards to travel to a large Tree Temple where an evil spirit (named Ahriman) is imprisoned. Elika wishes to secure Ahriman and keep him locked away, but Elika’s father plans on freeing Ahriman for his own personal reasons.
SIDENOTE = your main character in the game is nameless and remains nameless all the way through the story. For the purpose of this review, I will simply refer to him as “The Prince”.
The Prince and Elika arrive at the Tree Temple too late, and Elika’s father releases the evil spirit Ahriman into the world. Ahriman releases his “Corruption”, a web-like plague that spreads over the land, turning all that was once colorful and full of life into a black and lifeless environment.
Our two heroes find themselves in an environment that is now layered in darkness. The good news is that Ahriman had a brother named Ormazd. Ormazd was a good spirit and together he and Ahriman helped keep balance many years ago. Ormazd has now blessed Elika with these special abilities of magic — most of which deal with “healing” the land and restoring life to it. Together, the Prince and Elika work together to try and heal the corrupted land.
And basically that is the gist of the entire game. With the world taken over by darkness, you (as the Prince) and Elika travel to certain locations called “fertile grounds” where Elika can then restore life to the land. To get to these fertile grounds you simply platform and jump and climb — all gameplay mechanics that have become a trademark of the Prince of Persia series.
Most of the fun to be had from the game comes from these moments of travelling and platforming. The Prince and Elika often have to work together to make jumps or to reach new areas, and having them help one another for certain maneuvers and jumps really makes you feel like a team. This feeling of a bond with Elika really draws you into the experience. Here we have two good-hearted characters that are literally against an evil that could destroy the world, but the Prince’s tenacity and Elika’s mystical powers make you feel like a flicker of hope that continues to grow despite all that tries to extinguish it.
There is an element of combat to the game, but each specific fight feels very individual and more of a choreographed event — yet I mean that in a good way. Rather than having a band of enemies attack you at one time, once you reach a new platform you may run into a Fountain of Corruption that one enemy upsurges out of. Each face button brings a different combat attack that you must alternate in order to win the fight — a magic blast from Elika, a maneuvering ability to get behind the enemy, throwing the enemy, or physically attacking the enemy with the Prince’s sword. Using all 4 elements of combat is an absolute must to get through certain fights; especially considering that certain enemies go through “phases” where only one specific attack will be effective.
Another interesting aspect of the combat is the “combo tree” that intertwines all of the various attacks you can do. One example may be doing two sword swipes, jumping behind the enemy, stunning it with Elika’s magic, throwing the enemy into the air, and then slicing the enemy as it falls back to the ground. There are literally dozens of combos to chain together and the game requires you to piece them together in order to do excessive amounts of damage.
One final aspect worth mentioning is the idea that you cannot die in the game — and to some degree this is true. If you miscalculate a jump and find yourself falling to your doom, Elika will always fly to you and catch you. If you find yourself about to be fatally injured in combat, Elika will always pull you out of harm’s way or stop the enemy herself.
That being said — the game IS NOT easy. If you do fall and require Elika to catch you, she simply brings you back to the most flat land you recently stood on — which could have been 10 or 12 platforms before you fell. If you do require her to save you in combat, the enemy regains a portion of life because of your error. Basically, all the game does is eliminate what would have been a GAME OVER screen and simply reload things right away. And I liked this aspect.
As for the progress of the story — it works as beautifully as the game’s visual style. The plot is never forced down your throat, and this feeling of working together to save the world usually leaves you (the player) wanting to find out more of what is going on. At any time when the Prince and Elika are standing on solid ground, you can press the L2 (or the Left Trigger) and initiate a quick bit of dialogue between the two characters. Sometimes this could be nothing more than the Prince mocking Ahriman by speaking of how his evil plan is falling to pieces, sometimes it could be a moment of teased feelings the two may have for each other, or sometimes it could be about Elika wishing to save her father despite his foolish actions — it all varies, but it is always intriguing.
Is the game without some flaws? No — but in my honest opinion they are not abundant in the least bit.
My only major complaint was that the combat, while unique, took a great amount of time to get used to. I spent most of the game thinking it was extremely frustrating before I finally realized the unique concept it presented and only then could I begin to grasp it — but it felt too little too late.
Speaking on the area of sound and music, the game does well. The main theme does play quite often, it never grows old. While I loved the soundtrack, there could have been a little more variety.
The cel-shaded visuals make the game truly look like art in every sense of the term. I cannot imagine how the game could have looked better.
In terms of the game’s overall story, I was really pulled in and found myself more interested than with most adventures of the same mold. The idea of an adventurer and a Princess working together to stop a great evil feels fresh with everything else the game has to offer.
The game actually has voice acting and it’s just too good. The Prince is voiced by Nolan North (you may remember him as Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series) and he plays a surprisingly funny and arrogant adventurer. He serves both the role as a great hero and as a comedic relief. Elika’s voice work is done by Kari Wahlgren (famous Anime voice actress) and the banter and dialogue between the two characters is priceless.
Gameplay wise, the ONLY area I felt was somewhat flawed was the combat — but as I stated above — once you learn what the combat was trying to achieve, it becomes easier to tolerate and appreciate. The platforming by far steals the show. Nothing is more fun than jumping from ledge to ledge only to slide down a falling pillar and land on a hanging bundle of vines on a cliff-face, barely pulling you up to flat land once again.
In terms of length, the game took over 10 hours for me to complete, but someone barreling through could have likely finished the game in just a few hours. That being said, I didn’t take as long as I did because I felt I should — I took that long because the game was simply that much fun.
As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed Prince of Persia. Everything the game offers it delivers in one beautiful package. By the time I was halfway through the game I was beginning to appreciate the flaws that once seemed to pierce out. Some people WILL find the game repetitive, but I simply don’t know how to respond to that feeling — I simply never got tired of the formula the game went by.
The best part about Prince of Persia is that the game is fun — plain and simple. Now with the title being a year and a half old, whatever price you pay would be worth the money.
I almost hate to label the game with a numbered score because somehow in my mind a number cannot do justice to explain how I feel about it, but nonetheless, Prince of Persia gets a 9/10.
To end on a humorous quote from the game:
There’s more adventure here than in your average life span.