Review By: Jared
|# Of Players:
||Memory Card, Dolby Surround Pro Logic II
Although never a big fan of the Prince of Persia series, the
great deal of positive buzz surrounding this title convinced me to
give it a try. Iím glad I did, because Prince of Persia: The
Sands of Time is one of the few games in this hardware
generation to successfully combine old school gameplay and challenge
while at the same time utilizing new hardware in innovative ways.
The storyline is a simple one. The prince accidentally unleashes
the Sands of Time curse on the Sultanís kingdom, and must journey to
fix it or else suffer at the hands of the monsters the curse has
created. To do this he must venture forth through a vast castle
filled with monsters, traps, ledges, ropes, ladders, and other
obstacles. Ah, but this prince is no ordinary fellowÖheís as
acrobatic as gymnast in Olympic history. The prince can run up
walls, run horizontally along walls, hang from ledges, shimmy across
ledges, climb ladders, balance on wooden beams, jump great
distances, and much more.
Along the way heíll also meet a gorgeous young lady, who ends up
working with him as he moves through the castle. But is her motive
pure, or does she have her own agenda? Told through a variety of
cutscenes and in-game dialogue, this simple storyline is effective
because it really lets each characterís personality shine. Not only
will the two exchange words as the player plays, but the prince will
also talk to himself frequently and relay his feelings to the
Just as important as his acrobatic skills, by using the Dagger of
Time the prince can control time itself. Of course it must contain
sand first, which can be retrieved from sand clouds scattered
throughout the castle or from defeated sand creatures. This will
most commonly be used to rewind time (up to 10 seconds worth),
undoing a deadly fall from a ledge or swing from a monsterís blade.
The prince can also slow down time for everyone (giving him a
distinct advantage in combat), freeze enemies, and fast forward
through time to dispatch enemies in record time (no pun intended).
This ability to control time gives the player a great sense of
liberty, allowing him to explore the gameís massive environments and
take risks that otherwise would not have been taken. The dagger
also has one other power, which is used at each save point. That
is, the power of visions. This power gives the player a glimpse
into the princeís near future, offering hints on how to take on the
next set of obstacles and enemies. It really is an excellent
Amazingly, even with all of the abilities the prince possesses
Ubisoft somehow managed to maintain a great deal of challenge in the
game. Rewinding isnít always the answer to failure in combat or a
fall off a ledge, because after repeated use it becomes useless
(either due to a lack of sand or frequent use resulting in little
time to rewind). Challenge is also found in the gameís many
puzzles, which are similar to those found in other adventure games.
In one room the prince may be asked to position mirrors to light a
particular emblem, and in another he must hit a number of switches
in succession to advance. Unlike nonsensical adventure games such
as Myst, the player can always solve the puzzles simply
thinking through them logically. What a novel concept.
Combat is really this gameís only weakness, although itís still
ahead of most other adventure games. Although the prince has a
number of cool moves to dispatch foes with, his move set is pretty
much the same for the entire adventure. As a result, towards the
latter third of the game combat becomes more of a chore than a joy.
It also hurts that the variety of enemies isnít that great, and no
one likes killing the same guy over and over. Zooming in to see the
prince stab a bad guy up close the first time is cool, but by the
fiftieth time the player is left wishing the game would just leave
the camera alone. Speaking of which, while perfectly fine in
exploration the camera has trouble keeping up in combat. Itíll
frequently get stuck on walls and objects in the environment, and
requires constant adjusting by the player throughout each round of
combat. Make no mistake about it; the combat system is overall a
joy for the majority of the game. Faults like these stand out
though when the rest of the game is so polished.
The graphics make full use of the PS2 hardware. Environments
stretch on and on, truly making the player feel small and feats as
simple as making it to the top of a tower seem important. They
arenít bare either, as plenty of benches, water troughs, fences,
vases, and other objects abound. Thereís plenty going on too, with
crumbling walls, falling lanterns, very nice looking torches, and
swaying curtains using the ďSplinter CellĒ effect. Character models
are a little lacking in polygons, but make up for it with excellent
use of texture mapping and sheer style. Animation is top-notch, as
the prince displays total fluidness of movement and everything else
moves believably enough.
In addition to the previously mentioned dialogue, sound effects also
add a lot to the gameís atmosphere. Although I wish there were a
bit more variety (for example, a crumbling wall wouldnít sound
exactly the same every time), each sound effect is done well and
sounds realistic enough. The music score is excellent, with an
Arabic score accented with a bit of Rock Ďn Roll. Both styles are
blended together really well, and gives the music the hard edge
needed to complement the princeís mad skillz.
Everything the prince does is silky-smooth, and that everything is a
whole lot of stuff. While many games are still celebrating their
heroís ability to hang from a ledge, for the prince itís a very
basic move. Not even gamingís best ninjas can keep up with this
The graphics are phenomenal. Environments are huge and intricate,
with a nice bit of diversity throughout the castle grounds.
Excellent music score, mixing Middle Eastern tunes with modern rock.
The voice acting is good, with lots of dialogue (and monologue) that
add personality and humor to the characters.
The original Prince of Persia can be unlocked, as well as
another nifty bonusÖ
The quality of combat doesnít quite match the exploratory parts.
Itís a bit one-dimensional, with only a few types of enemies and
the same (albeit cool) moves over and over again. The camera also
has trouble keeping up.
A little on the short side, although perhaps thatís for the better
since the combat doesnít have a chance to grow stale.
Occasional framerate stutters.
An excellent blend of fluid (if somewhat repetitive) combat,
intuitive puzzle solving, innovative control of time, and plenty
of style make this game a must-own. A near-perfect mix of old
school substance and new school flash, Prince of Persia: The
Sands of Time is an instant classic worthy of any gamerís
Overall Score: 9.2