Not many 2D games make a hugely successful transition to 3D in one jump; Sonic is a living testimony to this statement. Who can honestly put their hand up and say a 3D Sonic title has been as good as any of the two-dimensional iterations. So now we approach Prince of Persia half with trepidation, half with excitement; thankfully we come away completely delighted.
Not all has been well and rosy for Prince of Persia since it moved from the world of 2D, indeed when it was released on the PC under the guise of Prince of Persia 3D many people looked away disgusted, and rightfully so. Thankfully after years of tireless work and some major rethinking the hugely talented people over at Ubi Soft Prince of Persia is back with a vengeance and quite frankly it rocks to buggery and back.
Your thumb is in total control over a young Prince, desperate to prove himself worthy of his father's kingdom and wealth. Sadly, you're a bit of a clumsy fool and possibly whilst trying to unleash the crunchy goodness of Kellogs Cornflakes, unleash the Sands of Time. This rather evil doo-hickey turns everyone all over the place into stinking, steaming zombies. And thus the fun ensues.
All you have to do is reverse the effect the Sands of Time have had on everyone by taking them back to their resting place. In a shining mist of 'honour-thy-father' glory you go about swashbuckling, buccaneering and generally doing good by ridding the world of evil to take your father's place at the throne. Picture painted enough yet?
The main glory of this game is the moves it lets you pull off. The young Prince is incredibly athletic and thanks to a great system implemented perfectly into the game you can pull them all of with ease and expert precision. You can run along walls, jump over chasms and gorges and swing over seemingly bottomless pits. Once you have mastered each and every one of the moves you can start to combine them into a flowing sequence of acrobatic majesty.
The levels certainly offer ample space to be acrobatic; they are quite simply huge offering masses of potential. They are also very intelligent surroundings, attacking you from every angle and permanently keeping you on your toes forcing you to play the game well all the time. The zombies you have wonderfully bought back to life are after you all the time and they are refusing to relent until they are nibbling upon the delicacy of your flesh. For the wimps amongst us you cannot run away either, they come after you again and again until you kill them. It takes a fair bit of doing at first and there is certainly a bit of a knack to it. There are more than enough creatures to get used to as well, which will be sure to keep you thinking from start to finish.
Thanks to the games excellent camera every move you make looks excellent. It swings, dips and moves as fluently as you do bringing a very cinematic feeling to things. The levels, as we have already mentioned, are just a bit on the large side of things and to be perfectly honest we were a bit confused at first, but as you take in the scale of the thing you can really start to respect the true majesty of this title. The levels are acutely detailed and the textures are top class providing a very complete experience. The animation is also superb allowing you to enjoy the games brilliantly worked out battle system.
As the name might suggest The Sands of Time allow you to do something with time, in fact you can play about with it quite a bit. By defeating enemies you increase your powers, which allow you to meddle with the contours of time. The ways in which you can control time are to say the least 'borrowed' from other places, yes folks you can slow things down and make the world around you more defined. The effect that goes with this is rather nifty it all goes kind of blurry (imagine being drunk in a room with a smoke machine if you can picture that one). Failing that you can use a massive blast of your powers to stop everything stone cold dead and dispose of everything whilst it cannot move, perhaps not the most honourable way to fight but who are we to care? Perhaps the best use of The Sands of Time is to hit the rewind button. This is perfect for when you die, you can rewind the game to just before where you made the mistake and do it the right way, a bit like coming back from the dead but VCR inspired and with help from a certain XBOX related feline...
Without this feature Prince of Persia would be insanely unfair. Being able to hit rewind just as you fall to your death having inadvertently hoofed yourself off a cliff and perch yourself at the top with enough time to turn around is a lifesaver, literally. Also of note are save points, whenever you spot one of these run very fast towards it and do not stop until you get there. Basically it is a large beam of yellow light coming down from the heavens. It is also a portal that can show you what you are soon to encounter in the course of the game, giving you a helping hand in your quest.
Just as BG&E (also from Ubi Soft) gave you a 'side-kick' for your quest, there is also someone to help you along in Prince of Persia. Named Farah she is a survivor of your unintended mass 'turn everyone into zombies spree' and needless to say is a bit annoyed about the whole situation. Bizarrely, she opts to help you out on your adventure and is certainly of use in some situations. She also helps to bring more of a plot to the title. It all moves along thanks to conversations dotted about the games profession that slowly feed you information and very in-depth background to just what has been going on.
Excellent fighting system, fluid controls, well thought out levels and generally very challenging and entertaining gaming.
Superb animation and perfectly realised landscapes. Hugely atmospheric and some of the best on the GameCube.
Lovely sound effects and music helps to contribute to the games ever changing mood. Good voice acting too.
Once you have played it once you can go through it again and then you have the chance to unlock the old Prince of Persia title. Huge game and you will want to play it all.
One of the best 3D adventures of the modern era and a superb reflection of just how far Ubi Soft have come of late. It looks great, it sounds great, it plays superbly and it goes on forever and a day. Hugely enjoyable and a title every serious gamer should think about owning, and then buy.