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GameCube Review: Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time

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Imagine Aladdin with a bit more action and a lot less song. Imagine a world in which all the colors are bright and the music swells with heart of the Middle East. If you have, then you probably are talking about Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time. A restart to the old NES series, this new take will invite new players and fascinate the old.

Your quest is pretty simple: You play the Prince, whose father recently took over a kingdom. As do all mighty kings after a takeover, most of the other kingdom’s treasures and slaves are seized. One treasure not found amongst them is the Dagger Of Time, which is the first part of your journey. After you retrieve the Dagger, you, in front of your father and his Vizier (the mystical wizard type), place the Dagger Of Time into an hourglass. From it comes the Sands Of Time, which change everyone into “sand zombies.” The Vizier, who leads you to unleash the evil, now wants the Dagger Of Time for his own purposes. You escape, but know that you must get your revenge for your father’s death.

Helping you in your journey is a young woman named Farah, who is part of the other kingdom your father took over. Her alliance to the Prince is a mystery in itself, but she’s helpful in the game by squeezing through cracks and shooting the “sand zombies” with the endless amount of arrows from her crossbow. Sounds like a simple enough job to do, just kill enemies and protect the girl. Wrong!

The skills of your main character are not just for defeating enemies, you also can jump and do flips and speed walk around walls. Most of the puzzles later on will require you to master fighting techniques as well as flip and jump combinations. You also have to swing ropes and poles to get to certain areas with pin-point accuracy. You miss, and it’s your death.

But, as you die, you can turn back time with the Dagger.

With a simple pressing of the button, you can turn back seconds before you died to do things differently. Do not waste this power, refills or “sand clouds” are obtained in only two ways: You can grab a sand cloud along your journey, or you can grab sand from the enemies you kill with the dagger.

For a game as cool as this, it suffers from early Resident Evil camerawork. Like the former, the latter sometimes gets the camera action of the character stuck in one position far from where your eye can see the Prince. This is especially a pain in the ass when you try to jump from ledge to ledge or attempt to crawl around a part of the building with no way to see where your going.

The animation of the game is rather buggy as well. As you jump from wall to wall for example, you have to hit the A button at the exact point you smack on the wall. If you hit it twice or not soon enough, the animation will assume you didn’t press the button and make you slip. This frustrated me so bad that a couple of times since playing this game, I actually took it back and received credit to get another game.

Some of the fighting in this game is also hard; the sand zombies have the ability to jump in and out of existence before your eyes. This means that you always have to keep the camera at a distance to watch your back for surprise attacks. During major attacks from enemies, you also have little chance to repair yourself as water fountains can also be good places to be attacked. Because you have the ability to flip and jump, it’s very easy to get lazy forget that enemies can block your attacks and wound you.

It seems that games always have to add the tension by adding a 20% helpful, 80% hindrance to the game in the name of a woman. As you begin to take Farah on your journeys, you will have to remember to protect her as you are fighting. Not to worry though, large parts of the game have nothing to do with her – expect you having to play “meet me on the other side.”

Some of the voice acting audio is suspect; in certain places you can hear the microphone give a hissing sound during the script recording. It’s also clear that volume adjustment is needed as it gets too quiet to hear whatever relevant information is needed. That being said, the actors and actresses who record the dialogue do a commendable job trying to bring seriousness to the fable.

Once you’ve gotten passed the buggy animation aspect, you’ll actually get through this game in a breeze. That might piss off the actual hardcore gamer, but it’s great for those creaking back into the game. For those 20-somethings who were discouraged long ago from gaming, this is the one that should bring them back.

Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time is a rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Content Descriptors. This game can also be found on: GameCube, PC, PS2, and XBOX.

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About Matthew Milam

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Matt,

    Great review, but a couple of points of interest:

    you missed one of the salient features of the game – the special ability to “wind back” the clock, reversing the time stream. This ability enables the prince to correct fatal errors (i.e. bad jumps, stupidity, errant traps etc.) – helpful when trial and error seem to be the only way past specific locations.

    Of note also is the fluid physics in the game. The Prince swings like a gibbon – the leaps, twists, grabs and rolls are very fluid and smooth, giving the game a nice look and feel. I particularly like his abrupt double-stop at edges and drop-offs.

    Lastly I liked how, after the Prince has been killed in one of the myrid ways possible died, the Prince (who is also narrating the story) abruptly says, ‘No, that isn’t right. It didn’t happen like that”, then dropping you back at your last save. It’s a deft touch on the part of the designers.

  • http://insidebrain2005.blogspot.com Matthew Milam

    I forgot to put that in the review, thanks for catching that in time as I just put it in.

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