Depending on whether or not you were one of the Prince of Persia gamers that absolutely adored the 2008 revamp of the series, the latest release of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (FS) is either going to be a big step forward or a big step back. There are, however, several side factors that play into this newest PoP release, the largest being the big movie blockbuster that shares the franchise.
Of course the MARKETING meter in my head shot off the charts when I heard they were releasing both a game and a movie in tandem, but as this initial alert began to calm itself, another gloomy cloud took over and insinuated that the tales of PoP might be strained to their breaking point with the release of this new "interquel." There is such a thing as over-saturating, and I worry that PoP is coming dangerously close to drowning its fans.
The Forgotten Sands is meant to take place before the Sands of Time and the Warrior Within storylines; games that came out in 2003 and 2004. While these games are hardly missing from the popular gaming community’s memory, they are surely overcast by the release of the 2008 revamp. Suddenly, you have grounds for mass confusion, as the 2008’s PoP has nothing/very little to do with Sands of Time, and you know that every newbie to the franchise is going to go buy that game after they’ve been to see the film. Add that to the little detail that Jake Gyllenhaal is not even remotely Persian, and we have ourselves quite a few fumbles with the management of this entire account.
But forget all that. Leave it up to the experts and time to sort out. Instead, let’s focus on the game, man. Because the owners could muddle up the entire works, but as long as the game is solid, that’s all that matters to some players. With this in mind, I’ve got to say that, for the most part, Ubisoft provided a pretty solid piece of entertainment, even if it does contain a few big flaws.
Even though the graphics for FS are sub-par and the enemies are haphazardly pieced together, the whole of the game plays like a PoP title ought to. This combined with the newest ways to get around a given level, and we have a title that is engaging to its very end, and then a bit beyond.
Yes, FS has replay value! In fact, I’ve gone through the game twice now and still am looking forward to getting back into the game for a third time to collect whatever trophies had been left behind on previous play-throughs. What makes the replay factor so high on this title is the same reason that other PoP titles have fared so well over the years. The gameplay itself rarely fails in these titles, and as long as the developers don’t completely destroy the wall-running fun of the game, people will continue to buy PoP titles for years to come. Just ad in a few element control factors or a hot chick that can save you from certain death, and you’ve both preserved your base audience as well as drawn in several newcomers to the show.
As for the new methods of movement, FS has definitely upped the challenge with its addition of water freezing, teleporting, and structure recreation. Mind you, it’s not the way you use these new powers that adds to the fun of FS, but rather the timing element is what makes these powers go above and beyond.
Of course, for all this praise, there is one major catastrophe for FS that should matter more than anything to me, and that is the story. Plainly stated, the story for FS had to have been called in from either the laziest writer on staff, or the most over-worked. And giving all the movement of the PoP line in the past few months, I’m willing to bet it was the latter.
In this story, the Prince goes to visit his brother’s kingdom, which is (of course) under attack by outside forces. In order to overcome these invaders, the brother decides to unleash a supernatural army and thanks to a magic charm, both the brother and the prince are immune to the terrible effects produced after the gates are opened.
True, the story itself is solid in its presentation, but it lacks creativity to a noticeable degree, and for that, FS receives a small slap on the wrist.
The final negative issue with FS comes with its price. As good as this title’s gameplay is, I would definitely debate against its ability to justify a $59 price tag. The story line is too short and the extras that should have supplemented the truncated game simply aren’t there.
Of course, this could be easily rectified if Ubisoft decided to release a monster DLC for very little money, but barring that, I would wait in expectations of the price to drop within a short amount of time.
As a final remark, I would certainly push for Ubisoft to continue with 2008’s PoP storyline in the future. The characters were well defined, the concept was fresh, and the visuals were astounding. To let it fall to the wayside would be an absolute shame.