D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn Part 18

Is it that time of the week already? Yes, it is! Welcome back to “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn” everyone, for Part 18 I will finish up my discussion of the Prince of Persia games. Fair warning, the original Sands of Time trilogy was the high point of the series. Not that the games I will discuss in today’s feature are bad, they just kind of fall short. Enough beating around the bush, let’s do this already.

 

Prince of Persia (PS3)

For those of you who may be unaware, the Prince of Persia games have somewhat of a “Zelda-like” quality to them with regards to their continuity, meaning the Prince character is not the same Prince in every series, much like with the Link character in The Legend of Zelda series. The very first 2D Prince of Persia trilogy I briefly mentioned in last week’s article starred one specific Prince character. The Prince in the Sands of Time trilogy was a newer Prince and definitely my favorite of them all. This newer game simply titled Prince of Persia, which was released back in 2008, stars yet another Prince character. I believe Ubisoft had originally planned on kicking off a third Prince of Persia trilogy starting with this game, but as is my apparent karma with many game series I decide to follow, this particular series never made it very far since this game never received a proper sequel. I’m not counting the 3DS title Prince of Persia: The Fallen King, which technically is a sequel, but that game never went anywhere either and apparently sucked. I’m kind of getting ahead of myself here though, so let’s just discuss the 2008 Prince of Persia.

The titular Prince, who’s not actually a prince but rather a wandering treasure hunter and grave robber (apparently he’s earned the nickname “Prince”) finds himself lost in a sandstorm and looking for his pack mule Farah (an amusing reference to the previous Prince of Persia trilogy), which was carrying his latest collection of ill-gotten gains. The Prince then stumbles into Elika, a young woman on the run from some mean looking guards. Turns out Elika is the daughter of a king who’s apparently gone mad and seeks to destroy an enchanted tree which keeps the dark god Ahriman locked away in an empty void. Despite the Prince and Elika’s best efforts, the king destroys the enchanted tree and releases Ahriman, plunging the kingdom of the Ahura into darkness. From there, the Prince and Elika (who is by the Prince’s side through virtually the entire game) have to travel through the four main areas of the open-world Ahura kingdom to free it from Ahriman’s influence.

To be honest, this game is the definition of repetition. There’s only one main type of standard enemy, you fight the same five bosses multiple times, and the main goal in all the main areas of the Ahura kingdom is to go to specified points on the map to remove Ahriman’s Corruption from the land’s fertile grounds with Elika’s magic. Fortunately, there are some lever/switch pulling puzzles to add some variety, and the usual climbing and platforming elements so popular with the previous Prince of Persia games return in this one, and they’re further expanded upon with the inclusion of special magic abilities that will let the Prince and Elika run along walls and ceilings, leap great distances from jump point to jump point, and even fly. Also, the dark, goo-like substance known as Corruption will hinder the Prince and Elika when platforming, adding some much needed challenge to the proceedings. The combat is somewhat unique since you never fight more than one enemy at a time in this game; it’s always the Prince and Elika fighting against one enemy or one of the bosses. This limited take on combat would normally spell disaster for non-fighting games, but somehow it worked with Prince of Persia and some of the fights (though not all of them) were downright epic, at least for me. The fact you could directly attack with both the Prince and Elika was especially cool.

The game’s most unique feature by far is the fact that you cannot die. That’s right, no matter how hard you may want to try, you can’t die in this game, it’s impossible. Should the Prince fall off a ledge or a cliff (and he will), Elika will use her magic to fly to the Prince, grab his hand, and gently drop him back down to the nearest stable ground. If an enemy is about to land a deathblow on the Prince, Elika will save the Prince by blasting the enemy away with her magic, although the enemy will also regain a generous portion of its health. Basically, the game over screen that we would normally see in any other game after falling to our deaths has been removed from this game, and battles against enemies will literally keep on going if you continue to let them kick your ass. My other favorite part of the game is the narrative. While it’s relatively simple, the way it strongly focuses on the growing relationship between the Prince and Elika is what really drives the story forward; the two of them have a definite Han Solo and Princess Leia type of thing going on and it’s great.

It still upsets me that this game ended with a massive cliffhanger that never received any resolution. The Epilogue DLC did show what happens after the cliffhanger, but since the Epilogue itself also ended with an unresolved cliffhanger of its own, I can’t help but feel royally screwed, yet again. It was sometime around this game’s release that Ubisoft started milking its behemoth of a cash-cow known as the Assassin’s Creed series, so they apparently just decided to throw this Prince of Persia series by the wayside since it was dead weight. While this game was far from perfect, it was just fun and unique enough for me to consider it a fun game, and the fact it’s the only open-world Prince of Persia game makes it extra unique. In fact, it’s so unique that I had to dedicate five paragraphs to this game instead of the usual three or four just to give you all a clear picture of it, which I hope I’ve succeeded with. Prince of Persia gets a score of 75%.

 

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (PS3)

This is definitely my least favorite of the Prince of Persia games. Again, it’s not outright bad, but it’s most certainly rather lackluster compared to the high standards set by the Sands of Time trilogy. Interestingly, Ubisoft decided to go back to the Sands of Time continuity with this game to allow us to take control of my favorite Prince once again. Of course, the main reason why Ubisoft decided to go back to this older series continuity, instead of continuing with the newer Prince of Persia series, was to further capitalize on the movie based on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, which premiered around the same time this game was released. At least this game wasn’t a movie-tie, because then it might have outright sucked. Anyway, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands takes place during the seven year gap between Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, more specifically just a few weeks or months after the first game, and it opens with the Prince visiting the kingdom of his older brother Malik (at least that prince has a name).

With his kingdom under attack from an invading army, Malik goes to his treasure vaults (with his younger brother following) in order to find a medallion that will allow him to summon King Solomon’s Army, an endless army of sand monsters, in the hopes of using it to defeat the invading army. As expected, everything goes down the crapper once the sand monsters are released since they turn all of Malik’s subjects and the invading army into sand statues. Only the Prince and Malik were immune since they carried the two halves of the medallion. Eventually, the Prince meets Princess Razia, a water djinn who instructs the Prince to lock away the sand army by joining the two halves of the medallion and by defeating their leader, the evil djinn Ratash. To that end, Razia grants the Prince with special abilities like rewinding time, flash freezing water so he can run up frozen waterfalls and swing on frozen water spouts, and the ability to unleash elemental attacks on his enemies.

Much like in the Sands of Time trilogy, the Prince spends this game climbing and platforming all over Malik’s palace, as well as battling a large number of sand monsters. The thing is, aside from this game having a somewhat different control scheme, the gameplay is not really all that different from that in the Sands of Time trilogy. The combat is actually kind of sluggish and repetitive, while the platforming is moderately challenging. It’s not until the last quarter of the game where the platforming becomes noticeably more challenging and even the combat steps it up a notch, especially with the final boss battle. The narrative is also rather straightforward, especially when you compare it to the stories in the previous games where the Prince and his love interest Farah had many amusing interactions with one another; the most we get out of this game’s story is some sibling rivalry between the Prince and Malik that is mostly predictable, except for what happens in the game’s ending. In short, this game isn’t horrible by any means and actually has some decent gameplay, but it doesn’t stand out in any way either. Definitely not a must have game for Prince of Persia fans, but you could do worse. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands gets a score of 68%.

And that’s the end of my discussion of the Prince of Persia series. While I’m grateful the Sands of Time storyline was appropriately closed out, it really is a shame Ubisoft let the newer 2008 Prince of Persia fade away into obscurity, there really was so much more they could have done with the unique gameplay of that title had they released a sequel or two. Why Ubisoft chose to concentrate all their efforts on releasing so many Assassin’s Creed games year after year when they could have split their time between both series is beyond me. And while I wish I could say that this was the last series of games I got involved with that ended up unfinished, I’m afraid I’m not that lucky.

If you’d like to eventually find out what other game series have broken my heart, just keep coming back to our site every Wednesday to check out my humble little feature. If you don’t care about what game series have royally screwed me over…check out my feature anyway since I go over lots of cool series that I still enjoy today (like you’ve got anything better to do). Next week’s “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn” will be somewhat special as I begin discussing the many games I’ve played that revolve around a certain franchise known as The Lord of the Rings. There will be movie tie-ins, standalone titles, and more good stuff, I promise. In the meantime, check out some more of our site’s content below:

I’m not normally one to promote other writings of mine in my own articles, but just this once I’ll say “the hell with it” and direct you to the latest “Have You Played…?”, which I hijacked from Jorge…with his permission. In this latest feature I make a recommendation for a rather unique and underrated game called Spider: The Video Game, so unless you suffer from extreme arachnophobia, click here to check it out.

Michael regales us on his time with yet another racing title known as V Rally 2: Championship Edition. If it wasn’t obvious beforehand that Michael secretly harbors a desire to one day star in the seemingly never ending Fast and Furious franchise, it should become painfully obvious after reading his latest “Retro Respawn”, which you can find here.

James Haxell, our resident ninja assassin who strikes, writes, and disappears for extended periods before striking again without warning, has returned to share his thoughts on the upcoming Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. Hurry, check out his article here before he disappears again in a puff of smoke!

Ian brings us a review of Bombshell, a sort of spiritual successor to the Duke Nukem games. Find out if Ian’s experience with this game was an explosive good time, or if it ended in a premature detonation by reading his review here.

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