The_Stacked_Nerd's Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands Review

by The_Stacked_Nerd, 19th June 2011

You can also read R834's review here.

Having owned a PS2 and the original 'Sands of Time', I was really looking forward to kick-starting my PS3 career and taking part in my first trophy competition with its high definition sequel: Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.
Once I had returned from the shops after yelling at R834 not to start, I eagerly watched my PS3 suck £12 into its sleek body. On the time of purchase and play, I only had a scart cable, not a HDMI. Having now bought one, I can now say the difference was, and definitely still is, worth the tenner or so I had to sacrifice, although it is worth noting that the graphics are still breathtaking without the use of HDMI. 

Starting up the game, I was dismayed at the simple menu page - not dissimilar from the original Sands of Time one. It was a simple hazy image of some Arabian towers. This of course lowered my anticipation for the game, as my interpretation of this was this was just a money-making spin off, and no real work had gone into it. I could not have been more wrong. Upon beginning the game, I noticed some major changes. Firstly, and more noticeably, were the graphics, which were extremely smooth and, especially in cutscenes, realistic. But then came the not-so-bold changes, such as the speed at which he climbs, the ease at which battles are carried out and the simply more varied, detailed and interesting paths. Small things, but when compared to sitting there, holding left on the analog stick and watching your character inching along the edge of a ledge down a boring, plain and identical corridor like a demented monkey, it's a whole new level of experience! 

The athletic Prince is also much more understanding; if you stand next to a wall and command him to run up it, chances are he will, and he is slightly more responsive in general (more on that later), although sometimes the change of camera angle can have him turn around crazily and jump off a cliff. Adding to the Prince's already lengthy list of impressive acrobatics, the 'Banner Drop' allows players to descend a platform quickly in style, and multiple banners can prove a lengthy but awesome descent.

Now on to the Story. Vital to the game are the Djinn, namely Razia and Ratash. These are equivalent to gods and use powers to perform miracle tasks, which evil Ratash stupidly uses to create an army out of the desert sand which even he cannot control. Razia, the other Djinn and the legendary king of the time; King Solomon work together to imprison Ratash, who takes on the form of a huge demented ram, and his army. Razia goes for the more 'male-pleasing' appearance.

The game starts off with you, brother to Malik (King of the realm), returning for a family reunion. Your ignorant father has sent you there to 'learn' from Malik on how to run the family business, but when you arrive, your brother is of course getting his ass handed to him by a much stronger force. Hidden within the castle is the legendary Solomon’s Army, which you reluctantly watch your stubborn brother unlock. In spite of Malik's intentions, the army quickly gets out of control and turns anyone it meets to sand. This is where the game really kicks off. Razia appears to you and basically explains what has happened and how you to destroy the sand army and re-entomb it.

You need to reunite two halves of a stone, of which both you and your brother have one each, together. This proves a lot less simple than it sounds when Malik has no idea of this and therefore evades you purposelessly. When you finally catch up with him, mistrust between the two brother seeps into the open and they cannot decide who should give their half to who. This argument is unceremoniously ended by Malik, who storms off, lengthening your mission further.

During the game, Ratash makes numerous appearances and battles with you every so often. He then makes the completion of the game harder by pushing the objective further out of your reach, forcing you to trek further into the ruinous parkour terrain of Prince of Persia. As expected, you do have to defeat him in an epic battle at the end in order to complete the game, but there is a twist – we'll leave that for you to discover...

Along the way, you learn various new attacks and skills. The first one is a return from Sands of Time, and guessable from the name. The Power of Time, for those of you who don't know, lets you rewind time until a certain period. Usually used to avoid unknown or silly deaths, it can also be used to reopen closed doors and collect any sarcophagi or other items you may have just missed. You then learn the necessary Power of Flow, which freezes water for a limited period of time. It is mainly used to freeze water spouts so the prince can swing from platform to platform and progress through the game, but can be used in other situations to help you progress.

New to Prince of Persia (well, as far as I know), are the Elemental attacks and upgrade menu. Players are able to use points they receive from increasing in levels to purchase and unlock four different elemental powers - fire, earth, wind and ice - and then upgrade them up to three times. Cleverly, the game limits your usage by providing you with energy slots which you have to refill in order to use a power again.

Personally my favourite, the earth power, coats the prince in stone, providing him with Armour. The others are all offensive moves: ice projects a damaging beam of ice in the direction of your attacks, wind provides you with a quick escape route when swarmed as it blasts all foes within a certain radius of the prince away and damages them, and finally fire leaves a trail which, along with attacks from your sword, inflicts burn damage to the foe, weakening him over time.

The combat system is simply fun and appealed to both me and R834 – with me going for the more quality attacks and avoiding the normal and R834’s preferred hack n’ slash attacks. The opponents are not particularly challenging, but well created and satisfying to kill, especially in large hordes. The varied variety of artful foes makes battling a pleasure, especially later on in the story when you acquire a certain object.

The absence of side quests suits the Prince of Persia storyline and works well with the game. Without a choice of what to embark on next, like in games such as Red Faction: Guerrilla (which R834 and I are currently racing to platinum), the game can and does make the sole objective that the player is powering through bigger, better, more intense and detailed and therefore more satisfying to complete. I think this use of plot worked extremely well: one route with a few hidden objects, but nothing major, keeps the gamer interested and dedicated but also stops his from straying from the overall aim of the game, as long as it's not too long and tiresome without action (like Final Fantasy X was starting to lean into towards the end...). However, it can get boring with endless similar corridors.

Like all other games, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands unfortunately had its flaws. The main one I noticed being the slight delay between the press of the button and his actions, especially attacks. This led numerous times to me a skellie managing to prick me with his sword and therefore cancel my attack, often leading to the opposing horde to swarm me. Moreover, lag during climbing can cause, and has caused me, to fall and die multiple times. However, after a couple of hours of gameplay you learn to anticipate the slight delay and it can work to your advantage – giving you time to evaluate and calculate your next move, and ultimately avoid death.

In addition, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is maybe just a little bit too unchallenging. If it weren't for the trophy hoarding, this game would have taken me well under 10 hours and, although I would have enjoyed it, I would not have got the maximum potential the game has to offer.

Also, the lack of just sheer addicting action, such as in other bestsellers like; Call of Duty, Uncharted and Killzone, and an option to replay limitless times whilst still squeezing satisfaction out of the game is just not there, and an online option could have been pretty cool, with players competing to complete a certain objective together, or working together to survive limitless waves of skellies.

The film, which I heard came out at a similar time, seems to have drawn attention away from Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. Whilst I heard it's good, this is most likely the main factor that caused the game to fall to such a low price so rapidly - and don't think I'm complaining! If it was even £5 more expensive, chances are I wouldn't have got to play this awesome game!

In conclusion, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is definitely a game not to be forgotten, especially if the previous Sands of Time appealed. The price that we both bought it for was more than worth it - under £12, and it's been reduced even further since our purchases. This game is definitely one of the top 5 or 10 in the long list of games that you can pick up for under £10 in most retailers. The story mode is fun, but challenging if you want, and the mix of insane graphics with awesome cutscenes following an clear and outlined plot make the game stand out from others.

For those of you who have not played the Sands of Time, I'll put it simply: Prince of Persia is a fantastic game – especially for introducing PlayStation Newbies. The plot keeps you interested whilst the graphics continue to keep your attention through pleasure of viewing. Battles are easy but still semi-challenging, and there are many collectibles for the really dedicated, which increase the short game time significantly. A few things bring it down – like the short completion time and lack of freedom, among other things - but these are counteracted by the cheap price at which you can acquire the game for in the current time.

Final Score