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Posted by drew10 on Jun 6, 2010
Review: Prince Of Persia: The Forgotten Sands / Ubisoft / 360

Review: Prince Of Persia: The Forgotten Sands / Ubisoft / 360

Prince or Pauper?

Scheduled to coincide with the release of the Prince Of Persia film, Prince Of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is hoping to put the series back on track after some less-than-inspiring outings in recent years.

This latest game certainly takes the Prince back to his roots and really looks to enhance everything that made the games good whilst stripping away the chaff that had fogged the gameplay.

The main story sees the young prince arrive at his brothers castle to find it under attack. The game starts with you avoiding giant boulders that are hammering the castle whilst you simultaneously attack the invaders. Once you find your brother however, things take a more sinister turn. Upon realising the castle is lost, your brother decides to unleash the power of King Solomans army, obviously this goes horribly wrong and an evil army of sand soldiers is born.

As in previous PoP outings the prince is again armed with a multitude of dexterous abilities, like running along walls and swinging off things. However as the game progresses you earn the other abilities that have become the trademarks of the series. Once again you earn the ability to rewind time and correct mistakes, which can be quite useful in certain parts. The ability is limited but you can earn upgrades to increase the length of time you can rewind.

Other abilities you can earn include being able to freeze water, thus turning gushing spouts into hand-holds and waterfalls into solid walls. Later you also earn the ability to fill in certain areas that have long since eroded by being able to look back in time. These abilities, whilst cool for a while, feel a little overused and the level design changes that incorporate each new ability feel a little contrived. There are various combat abilities that you can accrue, a trail of fire that follows burning enemies, a gust of wind that will blow away onto their backs, a stone vest of armour and an ice blast that sends icy shards racing towards your enemies.

For the most part the level design works well and traversing the various parts of the castle plays like a dream. It does feel like all of the puzzles have been designed to make use of the ability you have just acquired and a sense of deja-vu creeps up on more than one occasion. A more varied level design could have added extra spice as even though the settings change the gameplay rarely does.

POPTFS has taken heavily influences from some other recent top titles, the large enemies act very much like the ones in Batman: Arkhum Asylum and the ability to grab onto to birds to increase jump distances comes straight from God Of War, neither of these are bad things however.

Graphically the game is competent enough without ever really dropping any jaws and as mentioned earlier the feeling is very much that the ‘skin’ of the levels changes more than the levels themselves. The animation of the Prince himself is superb however, and the fluidity of motion with which he moves is very pleasing indeed. The enemies look good too and swarm around you making for some hectic fighting action.

As with any game of this genre much depends on the camera and for the most part it behaves itself very well, I can only recall one part in the game where it was a real issue. There you needed to jump from bar to bar in a set time limit but as the camera rotated the direction with which you needed to pus the pad also changed. This made for some annoying retries and quite a lot of swearing! The only other issue with the camera is that it locks onto the larger enemies in a battle and this means you cannot always see where the life giving barrels are around the edges.

The combat sections of the game really amount to not much more than button bashing and even on the large bosses it is easy to work out a single strategy that will defeat them all. Luckily POPTFS focuses much more on the puzzling elements.

As for the puzzles themselves they seem to be a lot more about timing and dexterity than anything that really taxes the grey-matter and a few more head-scratching moments would have been welcome.

It sounds very much like The Forgotten Sands was an average game but in truth I really enjoyed every second of it, yes it gets a bit samey but what it does it does very, very well and fans of the genre will not be disappointed.

But, and this is the biggest but I have ever written in a review of any game that I have enjoyed so much, I  have discovered a huge bug in the game that actually is almost a game-ending problem. Somewhere close to the end I failed to land on a platform a few times despite clearly making the jump. When I re-spawned the game had set me back a good thirty minutes of gameplay, annoying but not necessarily catastrophic until you realise that you are in a room that when you passed through earlier the door closed behind you and within which you are now stuck.

In days-gone-by you could have simply reloaded an earlier save but in these days of auto-saving that isn’t an option, it is a massive bug that had ruined what is otherwise a good game. It is a terrible oversight and one which Ubisoft should be suitably ashamed of. After speaking to Ubisoft they tell me that they are aware of the situation and should you encounter this problem there is a way around it.

It is not ideal but if you go into system settings and browse your memory you will see there are two saved games, one of which is a backup. If you delete your current saved game the backup will work, this will take you back about thirty minutes of gameplay though.

When I did manage to complete the game on the second time of asking I can say that the ending sequences are decent enough but also pretty simple and the final boss will not pose much of a challenge to any experienced  gamers.

Overall Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is a decent return to form for the series but unfortunately for Le Petit Prince both Bayonetta and God Of War 3 have done it better in recent times. Also due to the terrible nature of the bug realistically I should mark the game very low but instead I will give it two separate scores. One for the bugged version and the other should there be a fix that will guarantee you wont fall foul of it.

Score – (Current game 3/10)

Score – Unbugged version (8/10)

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