Prince of Persia 2008 – Game Review

Now that I’ve finished Ubisoft’s latest iteration of Prince of Persia, its time for the game to go under the scanner. Here’s the full review:

Storyline: 3.5/5
The Prince gets lost in a desert sandstorm, falls through the ground and ends up at the Tree of Life, the ancient prison of Ahriman, god of darkness. Here he bumps into Elika, princess of the Ahura (guardians of the prison) who is trying to prevent her father from opening Ahriman’s prison. A brief battle ensues, which results in the breaking of the tree of life. This causes Ahriman’s corruption to infect the grounds around the temple which keep the dark god incarcerated. This allows his “corrupted” – servants who have sold their soul to him in exchange for favours – to watch over the fertile grounds, which power the temple and the Tree, and hence keep Ahriman from completely escaping. Hence, with Elika’s help, you need to purge each fertile ground (there are a total of 20), and defeat the corrupted who guards each region. The game is non-linear, which means you can choose your own path to completion, and the story unfolds accordingly. As expected, romance does blossom between the Prince and Elika, although neither are willing to admit it (also expected). The climax, as with all previous POP games, is the piece-de-resistance, so I’m not spoiling it by telling you how the game ends. I can tell you this though: the game has a double-ending, albeit very subtly concealed. Overall, the story isnt as compelling as the previous instalments, and hence the poor rating.

Gameplay: 4.5/5
a)World Navigation and stunts: 4.5/5
The POP franchise has always been known for excellent, if slightly unrealistic gameplay. This game is no different. There are as many new stunts as there are old. The prince is also much more athletic, and is now capable of pulling stunts from old POP games with ease. He’s also got a gauntlet, which is used while running walls, using rings as pivots and fighting. One thing that does need mention in this game: the interface is completely counter intuitive if you have played previous POP games, and hence you need to forget whatever became instinct in the old games. Elika is essential to crossing the world, as she uses her magical abilities to help the Prince get around. Also, to get an exact idea of where the story is going, you can stop and have a conversation with Elika, which allows an insight into both charachters.
b)Fighting: 4/5
Fights are few, and far between. And the ones with the corrupted’s minions can be easily avoided if you are fast enough. Fights with the corrupted occur frequently enough though, and the special fight sequences can be challenging to master. However, there is little incentive to do so. Simply because the prince cannot die. Make a wrong move and Elika steps in to save you. The trade off is that the opponent’s health bar goes back up. This makes fighting rather irritating if you haven’t got the hang of it. The combos list has been increased, and a 10-hit combo is possible by chaining moves with blade, gauntlet, Elika and acrobatics. And yeah, each combo eats more at the opponent’s health bar.
c)Environment: 5/5
The world is brilliantly conceived: rich both in visual detailing and complexity, designed to suit the non-linear nature of the game perfectly. You can go anywhere anytime you want. When the game begins, all areas are corrupted, which means Ahriman’s all purpose death-goo is waiting to catch you in corrupted regions; again, if you do fall prey to corruption, Elika steps in to save you. In the centre of all courrupted regions lies a fertile ground, guarded by a corrupted soldier of Ahriman’s. Once you beat the guardian, you can cleanse the land, which removes corruption and fills the regions with light seeds, which allow you to unlock Elika’s special ablities. Light seeds are essential to collect, because you can’t progress if Elika doesn’t have enough powers; this is rather irritating however, considering that we have to double back through the region to collect light seeds, thus extending game time. Elika also has the inherent ability to transport between fertile regions instantaneously.

Graphics: 5/5
The game utilises modified cel-shaded graphics, hence gameplay looks an illustrated animation. And its no bad thing. The graphics are truly spectacular, and the motion sequences so well blended, that they look believable. And its not too taxing on most computers, which means people will be able to play the game with a low end graphics card, albeit at low settings. Cut scenes are also blended similarly, and the first time you convert a fertile ground, the transformation truly takes one’s breath away. The game’s also very well put together and rarely crashes, courtesy the Scimitar engine, which performed duties on Assassins Creed. Well put together.

Verdict: 4.7/5
Its an amazing game. And once you begin the game, you wont want to stop. The story isn’t too compelling, but the gameplay constantly makes up for it. Fighting is entertaining, albeit easy. My only grouse with the game was the ending, and to a certain extent, the difficulty level of the game. Otherwise, another must-play game, and a very nice way to end the 2oo8 gaming season.

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