Monday, March 22, 2010

Played Lately: Prince Of Persia (2008)

  • I had a strange compulsion the other day. I think it had to do with spending so much time in the living room with Mass Effect 2. As much as I like sitting in front of a big-screen TV, that's not where I do my gaming any more. So I picked up my 360 and moved it next to my computer. After sitting on my desk, mocking my folly for a few weeks, I finally dug out my copy of Prince Of Persia, the series reboot from 2008, and popped it in the disk drive.

  • The story of the game, for those of you who haven't played it, starts with some dude (The titular Price? Maybe, maybe not.) walking through the desert with his donkey. He soon stumbles upon a woman (Elika, a verified princess) running from her father's guards. Her father, it seems, has released a god of destruction on the land and she's not too thrilled about it. With your help, she wants to repair the seals on the dark god's prison.

  • Evidently you do that by running and jumping a lot. I mean a lot because there is no such thing as a level walkway left in this ruined city. That's okay because they make the running and jumping a lot of fun. The world is designed in such a way that, although it is open for exploration, the way forward is painted right on the walls. And if you can't even figure that out, Elika will shoot out a wisp of light to show you the way. From there, it's just a matter of reading the landscape and pressing the corresponding buttons.

  • There is the occasional fight, and each level ends in a boss battle, but combat is not a major focus of the game. Which is good since the combat feels a little silly. The best thing I can say for it is that, every so often, it looks just as cinematic as the developers want it to be.

  • That is something the game trades on heavily: the cinematic look. Prince Of Persia is a very good looking game. The characters are well designed and interact together in amazing ways. I had to demonstrate some of the position swapping moves for my wife because of how much fun those little details put into the game. The voices are well acted and fit the story. And the world is very attractive, at least when you slow down long enough to really look at it.

  • But that's the best part of the game. It's easy to get lost in the runny-jumpy bits and never see the forest from the trees. The monotony of the levels does not help that feeling at all. Since the world is open to tackle at your own pace, the difficulty never really ramps up. Once you know how to finish the first level, you can finish the game. All you need is persistence. That said, the difficult curve was just right for my limited capacity for frustration.

  • One part of the game that everyone seems to talk about is the ending. I'm still not going to spoil things here, but the game does end on a very interesting note. Although I understand why some people did not like it, I don't think it detracted from the game. If anything, I think it went on too long, lessening some of the impact the developers were hoping for. Because of its "To Be Continued..." ending, only a proper sequel will tell whether it was worthwhile.

  • I'm glad I went back to try Prince Of Persia again. The developers deserve credit for trying something different.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

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