|Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones|
|Developer: Ubisoft PoP Team
Release Date: Out Now
My story is a thrilling but cautionary one, for I am the Prince of Persia and I was foolish enough to mess with Time. When first I recklessly unleashed the Sands of Time, I temporarily lost my father and it was all I could do to defeat the evil Vizier and undo my mistakes. Not all returned to how it had been before, however, and I was hounded by my fate until I journeyed to the Island of Time to confront Kaileena, the Empress of Time, and endeavour to set things right. In defeating the monstrous Dahaka and winning the trust and, yes, love, of Kaileena, I hoped I had succeeded. Alas, now, upon my return home to Babylon, I find that in changing the course of History again I have unwittingly resurrected the evil Vizier to assail my realm and torture my people. Not only that, but my beloved Kaileena has been abducted and sacrificed by the Vizier so that he might make himself immortal. He has released the Sands of Time once more, infecting me in the process so that I am haunted by a dark alter ego who constantly converses with me and occasionally takes over my body. I must defeat the Vizier once and for all and reverse the evil he has worked to my realm, my people and myself!
Oh, come now, Prince! Donít be so glum! When you transform into me you become an awesome fighting machine, armed with a fearsome ten-foot daggertail chain-whip that makes short work of anyone stupid enough to get in its way. Combat has rarely been such fun.
Yes, but as you, as the Dark Prince, I slowly die unless I can replenish myself with sand from dead enemies or objects in the environment that I smash. It means I have to rush everywhere always in a race against time.
But that is exciting, Prince! It puts a bit of pressure on, changes the pace. And there are nearly always enemies to be killed or sand to be found when we need it.
But what if I want to stop and look at the spectacular environment around me? The city of Babylon and its buildings are wonderfully realised and beautifully lit. Itís a real shame to miss out on such fantastic scenery.
Not true! I grant you that my enemies have become tougher than before, taking more hits to kill and inflicting more damage upon me, but I have now developed the ability to perform ďspeed killsĒ. By examining my environment, I can often work out a way to engage my opponents stealthily, creeping up behind them or dropping on them from above. Then, provided I can follow the audio and visual cues promptly enough, I can dispatch a foe with a couple of blows from my trusty dagger.
Is that not a bit hard to pull off, though, Prince?
I have heard tell that some find it difficult, but practice makes perfect. And in any case, if you have sand in your sand tanks, it is a simple matter to rewind time and have another go.
Absolutely. Itís no longer just a question of wading in but of thinking and carrying out a series of acrobatic manoeuvres in order to place oneself in the right position.
And if the speed kill fails or canít be used, what then, Prince?
I am still a formidable warrior with an array of deadly combinations at my disposal, and the capacity to block and dodge pretty effectively. Also, of course, my mastery of time can prove invaluable, allowing me to slow my enemies down or rewind time if I get into trouble. There are even a couple of more deadly sand attacks I can use if I have enough sand in my tanks.
So youíre not entirely the feeble weakling you appear to be?
Do not be misled by my floppy hair and dodgy goatee! My body is battle-scarred and my physique is lean and athletic. I may not be as fearsome-looking as when I was on the Island of Time, but I am still every inch the warrior-hero!
Not as much as me, though, Prince! Menace positively radiates from me when I put in an appearance! Iím the best-looking character in the story!
Really? What of Kaileena?
I admit she is rather fine, though not such a ravishing fox as she was before she left her island.
Farah? The only heroine ever to be named after a once popular brand of casual trouser? The woman who keeps distracting you from our mission to kill the Vizier with pleas to assist her in helping the plebs against the sand monsters?
She is a fine archer and an invaluable ally.
Our audience is not interested in such scurrilous accusations! Iím sure theyíd much rather know whether I move as gracefully and athletically as I used to; which, of course, I do. Whether running along walls, swinging from bars, clambering down ropes, jumping from ledges or engaging in hand-to-hand combat, I never move in anything other than a glorious manner. I am a genuine delight to behold. And Iíve added some new tricks to my repertoire as well, like stabbing my dagger into special plates to suspend myself from walls or springing off jump plates to get to otherwise unreachable places. I can also plant myself between close set walls now, which is particularly useful when trying to get in position to launch a speed kill.
Very nice, Prince, but I rather feel my daggertail chain-whip gives me the edge in the agility stakes. I can use it to extend my wall runs by latching onto poles. Or I can jump out over a gap and whip my daggertail round a pole to swing across the void. I can even use it to pull out certain stone blocks that then enable me to get to where I want to.
Maybe so, but many of the best sections that require us to navigate our way through tricky areas are left to me. Think of the ascent of the tower at the centre of Babylon near the end of our story. Or making our way through the palace or the famous Hanging Gardens. Wonderful levels that require thought as well as keen timing.
I admit you have your fair share of memorable moments, but what of the Well of Ancestors or the promenade or the temple? Those are all exceptional sections in which I am the hero.
Yes, but you do not get to ride a chariot, do you?
What, one of those things that is about as nimble as a three-legged hippo!
Well, it IS a chariot. What do you expect? That it should turn on a sixpence? The challenge of those sections is in controlling a vehicle that is hard to control. I found them great fun as well as a pleasant dash of variety in our adventure.
If you say so, Prince. I still maintain that my part of the tale, though smaller, is the most enjoyable.
I think we shall just have to agree that there are outstanding sections weaved throughout our story.
Quite so. In fact, there is precious little in our adventure to complain of. The going can certainly get a little tough at times, but never unfairly so.
Likewise with a couple of my sections where it seemed improbable that I would ever make it through before my life force ran out. Initial frustration soon gave way to appreciation of a good challenge which, with a little practice, could be overcome. It was really just a question of perseverance and patience with a reward at the end of knowing that I had succeeded in a difficult situation.
And the times you did not succeed? Were you sent back far?
I would not say so, Prince. I know some have complained of the spacing of continuation points in our story, but it never seemed an issue to me.
For me, just the once, and then it was not a major problem.
Very well, yes. Indeed, excellently. The new setting of Babylon was a great success, the addition of various new gameplay elements, particularly the speed kills, were a triumph, the level design was as outstanding as ever, and my story came to an intelligent and satisfying conclusion.
Donít forget me, Prince! I like to think I was the real star of the show.
Well, you certainly added nicely to the tale, thatís for sure.
Ah, appreciation at last!
- Outstanding level design
- Extremely enjoyable and varied gameplay
- Magnificent environments
- The Prince animates majestically, whatever heís doing
- The ability to manipulate time is one of the greatest gameplay mechanics of all time
- Speed kills are great
- Strong story
- Very good boss fights
- Excellent contrast between the Princeís more methodical levels and the Dark Princeís frenetic, combat-filled forays
- Some of the cutscenes are just fantastic to behold and knock pretty much everything else youíre likely to see in a game into a cocked hat
- Some people donít much care for the combat in PoP (although, personally, I really like it and, in any case, there are speed kills now so you can avoid a great deal of it
- Like most Ubisoft games, it can be quite challenging in places, but I never felt it crossed a line - and thereís always the ĎEasyí setting (which still provides something of a test)
- I did notice one glitch which made it hard to make a jump to a ledge, but this was hardly a major problem