Monday, July 24, 2017

Prince of Persia (PS3)

Prince of Persia, which was released in 2008 for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, is a reboot of the series.  It features gorgeous graphics that's a cross between cel-shaded and watercolor inspired.  This is a platforming game and it has been updated for the new hardware compared to the previous generation.  You control the Prince, who is very nimble and can wall run, climb structures, leap from ledges, swing around and various other kinds of maneuvres.  However, if you're used to the Assassin's Creed games though, it will take a short while to get accustomed to the controls and the pathways are more clearly defined and restrictive.  Regardless, it is heaps of fun and definitely the best part of the game.  The other type of gameplay is the combat which is an interesting affair since it is comprised of one-on-one battles.  Once engaged against an enemy, their health bar will show on the bottom of the screen and you need to chain together combos from various different attacks mapped to the face buttons:  sword, gauntlet, acrobatic and magic.

The Prince can also dodge, deflect attacks and counter.  It is timing based but very easy to get the hang of and since it's one-on-one battles, enemy encounters never get too numerous, striking a good balance.  Prince of Persia was touted as an easy game when it was released; the reason for this is that the Prince can never die.  You have a partner called Elika, who can wield magical powers and she will always be there to save you and bring you back to the last platform you were standing on.  In come though, this will heal the enemy as penalty.  This safeguard makes the game not stressful and a great one to play to relax.  The game has a set structure in that you will enter a new area, travel a short platforming distance to approach the boss and defeat it, before the whole area unlocks and you can now search for the collectibles of the game, called Light Seeds.

There are 1001 Light Seeds to collect which may sound daunting, but most are in plain view and along the main pathway.  You can easily collect 900 of them without too much trouble.  Boss battles plays out similarly to normal enemy encounters and the variety of boss designs are low because you primarily face the same four bosses multiple times.  Although during each encounter, their attack patterns slightly change and become harder, the key concepts are the same and it ends up getting repetitive.  Enemies can also enter a powered up state where you have to use a specific attack to break them out of it.  This is annoying when you're forced to lead an attack with a shorter range as all other attacks would be ineffective.  There are a total of four major areas/themes to explore, each corresponding to a domain of each of the boss.  You can approach the areas in any order you'd like, assuming you've unlocked them, but you can unlock the areas in any order too.

Note though, that the areas you leave for later will have additional obstacles added in the form of moving black blobs to increase the difficulty, forcing you to time your jumps correctly.  There are magical plates in the environment where once you've reached it, it boosts you to various areas.  It feels gimmicky since it causes the character to zoom around the place but with the bare minimum of input from the player.  You can fast travel back to previous completed areas which helps cut down the time for needless traversing.  There are also puzzle sections which slow down the fast paced gameplay and they are annoying requiring you to turn handles in a specific order.  It would have been better if they were omitted from the game.  With a total of 16 areas, plus 4 boss areas and the final boss, there is a lot of area to traverse.  That said, you can easily get burnt out towards the end especially with the long magical plates sections where you have to repeat from the checkpoint if you fail.

Prince of Persia has a simple story in which the Prince is returning with a lot of gold when his donkey runs away and he encounters Elika.  It turns out that her father unleashed the evil god of darkness Ahriman, who threatens to destroy the world.  To seal the god back, they have to heal all of the fertile grounds in the land and beat back Ahriman's corrupted leaders.  There is plenty of good humor, especially the wisecracks made by the main character.  The chemistry behind him and Elika is very good.  The ending was a surprise and felt like it didn't fit with the rest of the game but once you think about it and let it process, it held a deeper meaning.  Overall, Prince of Persia is a fantastically fun and engaging game to play.  When you flawlessly execute the Prince's platforming abilities, and even with the odd occasion of him not doing what you wanted him to do, it gives you a rush and sense of satisfaction.


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