Oh Prince how we’ve missed you. It’s great to see you again bud! You haven’t changed that much either. Sweet!
2008 brought us a new and revamped Prince of Persia game that had nothing to do with the fantastic Prince of Persia trilogy that came out on the Playstation 2 and Xbox. While some (like myself) liked this new take on the series, others were put off by the drastic changes. I really liked the new PoP but felt that the platforming sections were too simplistic and I really missed the myriad of puzzles from the older games. Ubisoft saw fit to bring us back to the old trilogy with The forgotten sands. Why bring us back to this world? Probably because there was a Prince of Persia movie hitting theaters. Lucky for us, instead of getting some cheap movie tie in game, we are treated to another adventure with the Prince we grew fond of in the previous console generation. Playing this game was like visiting an old friend that you haven’t seen for a while and finding out that you still really enjoy their company.
The forgotten sands takes place between the events of The sands of time and Warrior within. The Prince is on a journey to visit his brother Malik but the reunion is not a happy one because Malik’s kingdom is under attack by invaders when the Prince arrives. Malik decides that the best way to defeat his enemies is to release the mythical army of King Solomon, whose tomb is conveniently located in his kingdom. Malik releases the bonds holding the army but this just makes things worse. Horrible sand monsters spread throughout the land and it’s up the the Prince to save the day once more.
If you’ve played the PS2 era Prince games then you’ll be right at home here. There is plenty of platforming, puzzle solving and battling to be had. After the simplistic platforming of 2008’s Prince game it was a blast to play through The forgotten sand’s dynamic platforming sections. On top of the platforming that you are familiar with, some new elements have been tossed in. You’ll eventually get the ability to make water solid and to restore sections of the world that used to be there but currently aren’t. The platforming is easily the best part of the game. Some of the sections can get really tricky but they’re such a blast to go through. And of course if you mess up or die you can always rewind time just like in the other PoP games and do it over again.
Combat in the PS2 PoP games was always the weakest part and while they have been made somewhat more interesting this time around, battles are still not that great. Enemies are ridiculously stupid, slow and easy to dispatch. You’ll wish that the game had a higher difficulty setting so that fighting would present an actual challenge. You can only change the difficulty to easy which is pretty funny considering that the battles are not tough at all. Putting the game on easy also makes the platforming parts easier I.E NOT AS FUN so don’t even bother with the difficulty settings unless you are doing a trophy run.
The thing that makes combat a little bit better is that now you can use several types of magic attacks. You can become temporarily invulnerable by surrounding yourself with floating stones, cause enemies to catch on fire when you touch them, cause a freezing blast to shoot out of your sword when you attack or cause a giant whirlwind to come out of the ground, killing everything near you. Having all of these magics is nice and all but the only real useful one is the whirlwind attack. You can upgrade these powers as well as upgrade your sword, magic and health. The upgrades are not entirely necessary since the fighting doesn’t give you much of a challenge but I guess every game needs to have some kind of upgrade system in it nowadays so there it is.
While not as graphically distinct or interesting as 2008’s PoP, The forgotten sand’s graphics are really good. The textures and lighting really stand out and give each of the varied environments a unique feel. I also have to point out that about halfway through the game a gigantic dust storm engulfs the world and it is easily the best sand storm you have seen since the Mummy movie from the late 90s. The way the sun beams punch through the storm is absolutely jaw dropping and you’ll probably stop at points just to take it all in. Not to give too much away but the final battle takes place in the eye of the storm and all I have to say is HOLY CRAP! Prepare to be amazed.
The replayability is not very high. One playthrough should last about 6 hours and it should take about 10 hours if you go for all of the trophies. Getting all of the trophies is not hard at all and you’ll probably get about 80% of them on your first playthrough without even trying. There are some costumes that can be unlocked like Ezio Auditore’s costume from Assassin’s creed II. There are probably more costumes that could be unlocked but my copy was used and did not have the special code needed to unlock them. Note to self; buy Ubisoft games NEW.
Prince of Persia: The forgotten sands is a great platformer. While I respect what was done with 2008’s Prince of Persia, it felt really good to play a PoP game that had all of the core mechanics that made me love the series in the first place. Although the platforming and puzzles are easier than before, they’re still very exhilarating and well thought out. Combat is still boring for the most part but thankfully the battles do not last very long. While I enjoyed playing as the Prince I remember, I do want the series to move forward. Let’s hope that Ubisoft can take the platforming and puzzles from this game and marry them with the combat and graphics of the last PoP game and really blow us away.