Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Prince Of Persia Series

So a long time ago I played The Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time video game. I really liked a lot of aspects of it. You take on the role of the prince and basically get to do a lot of Jackie Chan style moves of running along walls, jumping, hanging and climbing. Which is probably why it's been picked up and being made into a movie.

The fun part of the game for me is the game was basically one huge puzzle. There was always a path or something you had to create in each area that would allow you to traverse to the exit. As the game progressed you picked up some special abilities from the using a combination of the Dagger of Time and the Sands of Time. As one might expect these abilities involve time manipulation. If you miss a jump, fall, or otherwise get into a situation that's undesirable you can use the dagger to rewind time by about eight to ten seconds (it isn't cumulative though, meaning if you rewind you can't immediately rewind from that point again to go back a total of twenty seconds). In addition to the puzzle and environment challenges you also had to fight sand creatures along the way. Personally this was the most tedious part of the game for me since I liked the puzzle solving much more than the fighting.

So as I mentioned a while back during our last vacation I picked up some old Gamecube games I had missed. So I picked up parts two and three of the Prince of Persia series since I had liked a lot about the first one. I got Warrior Within (the sequel) and Two Thrones (the third chapter). Warrior Within (part two) had a ridiculous plot (to the point where eventually it just doesn't make sense and is a complete paradox). As if that wasn't bad enough, apparently in the sequels they decided to make the game more about the fighting with screen upon screen showing various different fighting move combinations. So now in just about every area you get fight a new batch of bad guys, then you can get around to solving the puzzle. And for some reason instead of having all weapons being equal they now there are weapon upgrades throughout the game (which makes the early stages a breeze when you have to revisit them once you get the more powerful sword). The game never gets too difficult to figure out what to do next (although sometimes it took me a while). I did 'cheat' and look online for the location of two (of eight) of the special areas that gave health increases, but that was all I ever used any walk through information for. The boss fights (of which four really stand out as I recall) were horribly done. It seemed only a couple moves would ever work (in the game's defense I didn't take the time to memorize all those different fighting moves, so I only had the basics to work with), so it became a tedious game of wait wait block block strike, wait wait block block strike, repeat ad nauseam). Nothing kills the feeling of free flow open environment like a repeating boss fight attack sequence. Overall the game was still fun, but had way too much fighting for my tastes. The "new" bit of the sequel was a new form you get later in the game (you can probably guess what it is from the cover art) that can't be hurt, but loses sand (health) over time and must be constantly replenished.

Two Thrones is the third chapter. After going to island that created the sands in the sequel you return to your home in this chapter only to find it completely overwhelmed by an enemy you defeated in the first game, but because of events in the second that defeat never happened (I'm telling you, if you actually try and make sense of the game's plot you'll pull your hair out). And guess what they did in this game. Made it even more about fighting. This time they were jumping on the stealth fighting bandwagon. Where you're suppose to work your way along all sneaky like and then stealth kill a leader in each section (because they can call for reinforcements). Stealth kills require precise timing on button pressing, so what usually happened for me was I would botch the stealth kill (by missing a button press) and have to spend even more time fighting through wave after wave of incoming enemies. Now in this game there was a boss fight in the middle of the game where you fight two rather big guys simultaneously and I ended up having to look online to see how to get past it (in my mind that's just poor design on the part of the game).

I did eventually make it through both games, but at times it felt more like a struggle than something entertaining. Oh yea, I forgot to mention that Warrior Within had some horrible software bugs. Some of the worst I've seen in a commercial product (although as I type this I'm remembering Neverwinter Nights, and that may take the cake for most bugs in a game I've played). In Warrior Within you end up going back and forth between the past and present, and the environment was never consistent. I get the feeling the I was doing things off the normal expected progression. Like going into the past, then immediately going back to the future and backtracking. There were a couple places where in doing this I actually got stuck (a wall that was destroyed to let me through was no longer destroyed when I revisited the area and I was stuck). The puzzle aspects of the game were interesting (although in Two Thrones there are times where it's completely unintuitive where you're suppose to go next or what you're suppose to do).

So overall pros and cons of the game. The puzzles are entertaining to figure out. The story is ridiculous to the point of absurdity. The fighting takes up more of the game than it should and the boss fights are repetitive. So basically I played the games for the puzzles. Not sure I would recommend anyone buying these given those facts, but if anyone wants to borrow them just let me know. I will say having the Wii have the Gamecube backward compatibility built into is a nice benefit (one of which I'll bet most owners of a Wii probably never take advantage of).

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