Prince of Persia trilogy HD Review

Posted: September 22, 2011 by Tony Polanco in REVIEWS

The Prince of Persia trilogy is one of the great action adventure franchises of the previous console generation. Although the series had been around for years it wasn’t until this trilogy came out that the franchise captured the attention of the wider gaming world. Its unique blend of platforming, puzzles, combat and time manipulation mechanics were remarkable at the time and have influenced many modern games like the God of war and Assassin’s creed franchises. As is the current trend with classic Playstation 2 era games, the trilogy has been reborn with a HD collection. New and old fans alike can now play the much beloved trilogy on their HDTVs and even in 3D if their televisions support it.

The collection contains Prince of Persia: The sands of time, Prince of Persia: Warrior within and Prince of Persia: The two thrones. You can play the games in any order that you like but if you want to go back and forth between titles while in game you’ll have to exit the game and go to the Playstation’s XMB menu screen to restart the disk. It would have been nice if you could go back to the collection’s title selection screen without having to quit out but it’s a small annoyance at worst.

I’ll give a quick run down of each title for those who have never played them or for fans who want a refresher. If you just want to know how the HD transfers came out and what features are included then you can go ahead and skip over the individual game synopsis stuff. I won’t take it personal.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of time begins the epic trilogy and is the game that feels the most like a classic Arabian fairy tale. After gaining possession of the dagger of time, the titular Prince foolishly unleashes the fabled sands of time and must then save the Kingdom of Azad from the ruin that he created. The game introduces the time manipulation mechanic that is a staple of the series. You can rewind time to save yourself from death or slow time down to dispatch enemies and get past traps with greater ease. Sands also introduces the inventive level design and smooth platforming mechanics that everyone loves about the series. This is my personal favorite game on the collection because of its sense of wonder, charming characters and endearing story. If Sands were released as a new game today it would still be amazing. This game alone is worth the price of admission as far as I’m concerned.

Warrior within retains the tried and true mechanics of the previous title and improves upon them. Warrior takes place seven years after Sands and in it we are presented with a darker and grimmer Prince who has spent all this time running from a demon called the Dahaka. This monster is a sort of time guardian that is out to kill the Prince because of his past time travel shenanigans. The Prince must go to “The island of time” in order to travel back in time to prevent the sands from ever being created. During certain segments of the story you will travel back and forth through time. You’ll manipulate things in the past which in turn will have an effect on the present. The puzzles are a bit simpler than those of Sands but the platforming is trickier and you’ll need to be more precise with your jumps. Battles are more enjoyable than those of Sands since you have a lot more combos available and you can use the environment and enemy weapons to help you gain an advantage.

Lastly we have Prince of Persia: The two thrones. Shortly after the events of Warrior within, the Prince returns to his home in Babylon only to find it besieged by an army lead by the Vizier, his old nemesis from Sands. The Prince must put a stop to the Vizier, save his kingdom and hopefully find redemption for his past actions. Although the game begins dark like Warrior within it gradually regains that light hearted tone that was last seen in Sands. The lovely Indian Princess Farah (from Sands of time) makes a much needed return and is instrumental in not only helping the Prince regain his humanity but in bringing back the fun and charm that the series was missing. Thrones doesn’t veer far from the gameplay of the last two games but it does add some new elements such as quick time events and stealth gameplay. The puzzles are simplified like they were in Warrior but like Warrior the platforming sections have become even more perilous.

Now let’s get to the good stuff. How do these games look in HD? While not as great as they could have been the games look very nice for the most part. You won’t really see many blurry textures but there are quite a few really blocky looking parts on characters. After playing other HD re-releases like the God of War and Tomb Raider collections it was kind of jarring to see so many polygonal looking characters. Thankfully the environments are just as awe inspiring now as they used to be back in the early 2000s.

There is one change graphically that I’m confused by. The originals had this sort of hazy otherworldly look which is missing with these re-releases. I think this look was intentional to give the games a more surreal vibe and to make it feel like you’re in a desert. I guess during the HD transfer the developers just decided to get rid of this effect. Why they decided to completely do away with it is something I’d like to know. It’s not a big problem but it would have been nice to have had the option to turn the effect on or off.

The computer generated cinematics of all three titles leave a lot to be desired. I wasn’t expecting them to be in high definition seeing as how they were made for standard definition televisions but I would have preferred it if these cinematics were kept in their original 4:3 aspect ratio and not be stretched to fill out a HDTV’s 16:9 ratio. This stretching makes cinemas that already looked grainy and blurry appear worse. The transitions from dark and muddy cinematics to crisp and clear in game graphics are not seamless at all.

The last thing to mention graphically would be the 3D support. Full disclosure; I don’t own a 3D tv, I don’t know anyone that does and quite frankly I don’t ever plan to buy one. If you have a 3D tv then you have the option to play these games in the third dimension. I can’t really discuss a feature that I wasn’t able to use so let’s move on.

Getting the platinum trophy for each title shouldn’t be too difficult but it will be time consuming since you have to play each title at least three times to get everything. Why the difficulty related trophies don’t stack is beyond me. Each game also has extra features that contain making of interviews and galleries. These were part of the originals and are sadly the only extra content available. This collection is pretty bare bones. You get the three games with HD graphics, trophy support and not much else. Ubisoft could have done a really awesome new documentary about the legacy of the series or something equally as insightful to give fans more new content. All in all this collection should give you a solid 60 hours+ worth of gameplay time.

This one is a no brainer my friends. Three great games for 2/3 the price of one is a pretty damn good deal. Although some games in this collection are better than others all of them hold up nicely considering that they are almost a decade old. This franchise is one of my all time favorites and replaying these games again has not tarnished any of the good memories that I have. This is a fantastic collection that every true gamer should own.

Liked

  • 3 of my favorites in one package
  • Trophy support
  • Gameplay across all titles is as fun as ever

Disliked

  • 3D support was a waste since most people don’t own 3D tvs
  • CG cinematics weren’t cleaned up to look as nice as the actual games
  • Glitches that were never in the original games

Ubisoft never put together a proper trailer for the collection so here is a fan created one by youtube user ak49inc

Prince of Persia trilogy HD was developed by and published by Ubisoft. It was released exclusively on the Playstation 3 on Blu-ray and digital download and is available now for $39.99 or $14.99 for each title respectively. A retail Blu-ray copy was played for this review.

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