With the DVD release of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time this week many may be looking for a way to continue the fun action adventure without having to put the movie on repeat. Luckily enough there is another option, which is to rent Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, the game that was released in conjunction with the film’s theater outing.
Though there are numerous similarities between the film and the game, this is not the typical film based game that often fails to live up to the film. Instead the story of the game actually alludes back to the first game of the series (Forgotten Sands takes place between the first and second game) with yet another plotline involving the mistakes of releasing magical sand from its prison. However, with the ending of the first game only the Prince is aware of this alternate reality, so this time around no one but he can learn from the mistakes of the past. Unfortunately he is unable to convince his brother not to raise Salomon’s army of sand creatures in order to help defend the palace from a losing battle, and before long the sand has overwhelmed the palace.
If this story seems way too familiar then the gameplay will be comfortable as well. In order to rebottle the forces unleashed with the sand the prince must fight off the sand creatures littering the castle. The fighting is simple enough, and the large swarms of sand creatures are never enough to overtake the prince and his trusty sword. In order to switch up the combat this time around the prince is given a few powers over the elements from a mysterious woman in order to help him accomplish this task. During battle the prince will absorb the power of theses creatures, and this will translate into points that can be used to unlock and enhance these powers. Though they add an interesting aspect to break out of the normalcy of the combat, in many ways they actually take away the challenge to these fights (especially if the player goes on the defensive and levels up the shield ability, which is a good idea when blocking is no longer an option). Even in its simplicity, the fighting is still fun enough thanks to the variation to the fighting and cinematic takedowns, and as the hack and slash button pressing takes the forefront there is always something so satisfying about kicking a creature off the ample supply of ledges.
As fun as swordplay is, the biggest pull to these games has always been the prince’s ability to inhumanly traverse the environment. As usual each level will have the player scaling columns, running across walls, and swinging from poles with such skill that would make an Olympic gymnast jealous. Though this too is familiar it has yet to become boring, and as with the combat the platforming has evolved with the addition of magical powers. The best example of this is the prince’s new found ability to “freeze” water for a short period of time, creating solid objects that can now be used like any other wall, column, or horizontal pole. This may seem simple enough, but the challenge stays alive when timing becomes more important, switching from frozen to liquid water depending on what is required, making his power to rewind time a great crutch to lean on.
While the prince is giving his acrobatic skills a go through the maze of puzzles and scaleable rooms, even he has to stop and ask, “Who builds these things?” It is most likely that he is referring to the deathtraps, but the same expression of awe can be added to the level design as a whole. As easy as it is to become goal oriented when moving from point A to point B, the camera often finds an angle that benefits the player while also providing a great view of the surrounding area. The cinematic movement to the camera does wane as the game moves on, but the scale and beauty of the levels remains, ranging from the soldiers who have been turned to stone by the touch of the sand to the grandiose sandstorm level that is simply jaw dropping.
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands treads the well-worn path of the previous games, adding a few different changes to mix things up. Though some of these elements do not live up to their full potential, the puzzles and platforming remains as fun as ever, making this a worthy experience that will give the player everything they could not get by simply watching the film.
Final Grade: 8/10