Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: 12/2/2008
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The Good: Beautiful and stunning graphics and soundtrack, excellent cinematic combat, great controls and acrobatics, open world is very well designed, amazing story
The Bad: Combat and exploration gets tedious towards the end, that damn cliffhanger ending
The Sands of Time trilogy was probably one of the best games series ever made, let alone a few diverse series, with each game completely evolving from each other. When the series started with The Sands of Time every completely freaked out on their consoles with the game’s great acrobatic moves, enticing story, and beautiful graphics. The game just felt so good and played so well the controller almost melted in your hand. With the return in Warrior Within the Prince kind of went to the dark side with a grungy, heavy metal, gory sequel that was either a hate or love it type thing. I however considered that one my favorite, but fans were pleased again with Two Thrones when the Prince actually got a dark side and went back to the style of the first game. If you loved this game you should go back and play the previous trilogy because I promise you’ll fall in love with it.
The PoP we are playing has a completely different story, and hell the Prince isn’t even a prince; he’s a thief who wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time whilst running into Princess Elika. The Prince and Elika are major roles in this wonderfully made game and it all actually works. The first thing I need to explain is that the core of the gameplay is like the previous PoP games with the whole acrobatic aspect still intact. However the Prince now has a Gauntlet that he uses to help him with all of this. The controls have been simplified where everything is just one button press…yes let go of that analog stick because you just use it to point the Prince where you want to go; not guide him. He can run across walls, run up walls, swing around poles, climb on vines, shimmy across ledges etc. The game controls so incredibly well with a few minor issues you really won’t hate the controls. Another major change is the game is open world so you can go anywhere you want in this humongous world.
The point of the game is to stop Arihman from destroying the world with Corruption and in turn save Elika’s father Ormazd. While there are over 30 areas to explore you can go to them however you want using the acrobatic moves. Yes this can get tedious after awhile because once you discover everything you’ll have to backtrack to the Temple to acquire new powers. These are four powers that are activated on various colored power plates on walls and they are key to access new Fertile Grounds. Each section is a “mini-level” with various obstacles to cross and just before a fertile ground is a boss fight. Navigating the world can be a bit confusing in the beginning since you’ll be relying on a “compass” that’ll guide you to where you want to go depeneding on what area you selected on your map. The point of healing each area is to rid of the Corruption killing that piece of land. Of course you can’t touch this corruption or you well…you don’t die in this game. Elika saves you if you fall off a ledge so consider any flat ground a checkpoint.
During combat you can not die either and you may think this is absurd, but it is a blessing. Trying to find Light Seeds (after you heal a ground you go back and collect these to gain new powers) can be kind of hard so you jump off a cliff to reach one and if you fail no big deal. This is better than restarting a level, but of course if it’s open world you can’t technically restart a level. Elika is also a big part of your acrobatics because if you can’t reach a ledge you press Y when you jump and she’ll give you a boost. This is also true in combat where she is basically your “magic” attack. Moving through the levels is fairly easy and I didn’t once have to resort to a FAQ of any kind. The compass is a great way to find out where to go since it’s a little light that kind of goes along a path and you can follow it. Of course find all 1001 Light Seeds isn’t necessary since you’ll find plenty to acquire all powers without having to hunt and search for each seed.
Now when it comes to combat you’re in for quite a treat since combat is very cinematic. Everything is “one-on-one” and each enemy has a life bar that you much deplete. You have four major attacks: Magic, Acrobatic, Grab, and Sword. You can combine any four of these to make huge combos. Of course the corruption plays a huge role, so if the enemy changes status you can only use a certain attack to break through it. While each character technically plays the same you have to use time button presses to fend off their attacks. This can make things fun and challenging at the same time. The combat is very rewarding with the dramatic sweeping camera angles and beautifully scored music. Of course after awhile it starts feeling really old, but not enough to really bore you since it always keeps you on your toes.
If you want to talk about cosmetics PoP is probably one of the best looking games ever made so far. The game is just stunningly beautiful and there are high perches you can stand on and just look out to this beautiful vista that is amazingly rendered in real time. I don’t know how Ubi did it but they pulled some amazing stuff to get the game to look the way it does. The soundtrack is really stunning as well (even though there’s not much of it), and the voice acting is top notch and you really in love with these two characters and they struggle with the world around them and with each other. The Prince tends to be a sarcastic hot headed wanna-be hero and Elika is a confused woman/goodie two-shoes who is always putting the Prince’s fire out. There are so many amazing elements to PoP you just have to play it to really know it all. With a great cliffhanger ending, a great way to control the ending, great controls, cinematic combat, and beautiful graphics you will spend a good 10 to 12 hours exploring this world.