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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time PS2 Review

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| Adventure in Gaming | Posted: Nov 27, 2003 5:00 am

"A truly great next-gen successor to one of the most famous video games of all time"

There isn't many PC gamers who have never played or heard of Prince of Persia. Jordan Mechner crafted together not only one of the best games, but one of the most addictive yet frustrating games that people had ever played. Since the original two, a few games under the franchise have been released on various formats but really haven't lived up to the originals. That is until now. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is truly a must own title for any Playstation 2 owner.

The storyline featured in POP:TSOT is dramatically different to that of the original games. It is split into two sections an epilogue and the main storyline. The journey starts out with our prince stealing a famous dagger and handing it over to his fathers friend. He is then tricked into unleashing the sands of time, turning everything in the palace into sand. He must then try to undo all he has done, but he won't do it alone.

POP: TSOT is a third person action game which features a multitude of puzzles and some truly breathtaking experiences. One area which could have improved the game would be to add a tutorial. You really have to train yourself to play POP: TSOT the way its meant to be played. The puzzles are built into the architecture, which not only looks absolutely stunning, works fantastically well and is a homage to the older games. It also can leave you dumbfounded at times. POP: TSOT is one of those games where you will get stuck, leave it for a few days, return to the game and progress further into the storyline. The puzzles never get frustrating enough to make you want to throw the game or controller at a wall and are ingeniously designed.

The puzzles featured in POP: TSOT are varied and once you know how to play POP: TSOT in the way the developers intended, then they shouldn't trouble you too much. One such puzzle is turning on the palace defence systems, this is a series of poles which must be placed in a certain order. Although why the prince actually does this given that it makes his task harder (as you will find out when you see razors moving up and down walls etc) is unknown. There are many homage's to the original Prince of Persia featured in The Sands of Time. For instance to get through spikes you have to walk slowly which is done by moving the dual shock analogue slower then usual.

Early on in the game you will meet Farrah, the daughter of the Sultan who's palace you raided. At first she treats you like a piece of dirt, basically because you unleashed the sands of time but as time wears on she will help you and it would be impossible to pass some areas without her. The only problem that this can create is during combat you also need to keep an eye on her health meter, because if she dies the game ends straight away. Farrah also becomes a subtle love interest for the prince.

Some of the jumping puzzles would get incredibly frustrating if it wasn't for the princes dagger. Once the sands of time are unleashed this dagger becomes his most powerful weapon. As you move through the storyline you will gain powers for this dagger such as rewind, slowdown and mega freeze. This works quite like Blinx on the Xbox. Rewind allows you to move back in time, slowdown makes the game slow motion allowing you to deal with multiple enemies at once and mega freeze halts the entire game. Using these powers at the right time is key. To get the ability to use the powers you have to suck the sands out of fallen enemies, failure to do so will not only deny you these powers, but they will eventually come back to life.

The dagger isn't all the prince uses however. He carries a sword and also is very nimble on his feet. The prince can run along walls, barrel roll, swing on poles, jump long distances and jump over enemies. The controls featured in the game are brilliant and really suit the dual shock controller. R1 is used to run along walls, L1 is used to select the type of power to use from the dagger and the face buttons etc are used to attack, jump etc. Throughout TSOT you won't find pickups for health, instead drinking water will replenish his health which is ingenious in execution.

Obviously TSOT isn't all about jumping puzzles and super powers. Throughout the journey you will come up against progressively more powerful enemies. The earlier enemies are quite easy to defeat and can be fooled by the prince's trickery but further on enemies have weapons that can't be blocked, attack in numbers and cause problems for the prince in many ways. The combat can get repetitive after a while especially because some enemies will only be defeated on the counterattack. When you finally do defeat them it is likely another will pop out of the woodwork which can be frustrating as you never know just how many more you have to defeat. Enemies can also harm each other whilst trying to aim at the prince.

TSOT has no load times. Once the initial game is loaded, you won't see another loading screen which can make the game eat hours of your life. You will come up against some boss characters such as the prince's father which would signify the end of a section but other then that there isn't much. Scattered throughout the palace are visions. These are the save points of the games but also give a flash of what you can expect the puzzles to be in the upcoming section. Whilst they don't give away exactly how to do them, they are a good indication and are quite helpful especially in some areas where you may think you are completely stuck. Also once you finish the game, or discover a secret room, the original Prince of Persia is unlocked for you to play.

Obviously having the game set in a palace has limited the variety that the developers can put into the environments but it still looks stunning. Most rooms look different and feature some exquisite architecture. The graphics of TSOT are definitely one the games strong points. Slow down with the frame rate can occur at times in combat but most of the time the frame rate is smooth. Sound effects are great and the voice acting of the prince and Farrah is quite believable. The cinematic soundtrack adds to the atmosphere and if the music starts to pick up you can take a good guess that you're about to enter a combat situation

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is one of the best games available on the Playstation 2. The ingenious level design, puzzle design and gameplay  has created one of the best POP games since the original was released so many moons ago. The combat can be repetitive, but given the absolute outstanding design values of POP: TSOT this can be overlooked. If you own a Playstation 2 then you simply must try this game and be captured by its charm.

 

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