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Review

Review: Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

Return to the sands.

The Prince has been through a lot in recent years; a new direction with the 2008 game, a movie, and now a journey back to his roots in The Forgotten Sands. The game may have been released at the same time as the movie, but don’t write it off just yet, there’s a whole new story in here for fans of the original Sands of Time trilogy or even newcomers to the series to enjoy. Essentially, Ubisoft have used the Power of Time to rewind back to a period just after The Sands of Time and before the grim sequel.

The game starts off with the Prince in a distant land, trying to avoid the war going on as much as he possibly can in order to find his brother, Malik. After a warm welcome and a good catch-up, Malik decides to finish the war once and for all, by releasing Solomon’s Army, an army of sand creatures that outnumber the grains of sand in the desert (don’t worry, you won’t have to fight them all) by using a magical medallion. Thankfully, the Prince and his brother are protected from being turned into sand statues by the parts of the medallion that they both have.

This provides an interesting set-up for the experience points, energy points and health points, with them feeding directly into your half of the medallion. These orbs will fly out of enemies as you defeat them, the experience points allowing you to upgrade your abilities, and the energy and health points restoring your meters. You’ll also collect different powers as you progress through the game; the first is the Power of Time, making a return from The Sands of Time. Having problems with the floor breaking beneath your feet, leaving you to fall to your death? Don’t worry, you can simply rewind time and this time round, you’ll know it’s coming. How about if you’re running along a wall and realise the pole you were about to jump to is actually just a spout of water? No problem, just freeze it and it’ll become a solid substance for you to swing across.

The platforming is undoubtedly the best part of the game. You’ll be methodically running along halls, avoiding traps, solidifying water and rewinding when you fall at first, but further in to the game you’ll be doing all of these things at the same time, with some of the later platforming sections providing a real challenge to overcome. The linearity works well with this, as it allows for focused sections with mighty traps, challenges and timed doors. And it’s when you are given the ability to recall parts of the environment to see the land as it once was, that you’ll really appreciate the platforming; running along a solid waterfall only to jump to a pole that has to be recalled in mid-air so you can swing over to a frozen water spout flows perfectly and this makes these sections stand out from the usual platforming formula: jumping over gaps and getting it over and done with.

Unfortunately, the gameplay found with the combat is not up to the high standard of the platforming. It feels slow and clunky in comparison to the Prince’s acrobatic wall running, and it becomes easier to defeat the already weak enemies as you upgrade, rather than providing a progressively difficult challenge. The singular weapon that you have simply isn’t enough to make the combat fun or interesting, hacking through enemies is as simple and boring as continuously tapping a button. Sure, you can kick enemies down or charge up your attacks, but these two moves don’t provide much variety and the lack of combo moves is appalling. The boss battles, however, are a good blend of intense, acrobatic platforming and slow paced combat, and the large boss sequences are a glimmer of hope that the combat could actually work.

Even though you’ve only got one weapon, there are four elemental magic powers that breathe some life into the ugly combat system. Stone armour protects you completely, even if you are blasted back; Trail of Flame does what it says on the tin, a fire-trail will follow you, damaging enemies that get in its way; Whirlwind is a mighty gust of wind, it will either knock enemies down or suck them into a tornado once you have upgraded; and Ice Blast fires out ice shards along the ground as you swing your sword, impaling enemies that stand in front of you.

Your powers are upgradeable by spending the experience you’ve collected, although each only has four levels. These elemental powers are just a part of the game’s more magical approach, and the only real problem with them is that they could have been implemented better, working with the main powers rather than just being additions to combat.

Puzzles act as a welcome intermission between the action-packed platforming and tiring combat sections. They are few and far between, but there is a colossal puzzle at one point in the game that will leave you in awe. The precise timing of the platforming sections are somewhat like mini puzzles, so you are always left thinking about how to get to the next area. The problem with this is the necessary repetition that comes bundled with limited ways to construct these sections, but the systematic unlocking of main powers throughout the game allows for differently structured areas.

Sadly, the remedy to the repetition is also the game’s downfall; it’s simply too short. Even though a new power will be unlocked every few hours, there’s only three to unlock after the initial introduction. Thankfully, the experience you have during this time is a fantastic one, and as long as you just treat the combat as an interlude between the platforming and puzzles, you’ll feel extremely rewarded by the end.

The game looks fine. There are some nice effects when you use powers, but it’s nothing outstanding. It doesn’t need to be, though, as you still get the impression of an epic war going on from the very start. There’s much more attention to detail than the previous games in the series, but it still doesn’t match some modern games. The platforming animations are great and the Prince looks like he is actually freerunning, but the combat animations can act extremely abnormally at points.

Although the soundtrack is fantastic, it is crippled by the lack of intense music in big battles and the fact that the music will sometimes come to a complete halt. Prince State-the-obvious narrates the game and enjoys pointing out every detail, which can be an annoyance, but the voice acting in cutscenes is great. They’ve even used the voice actor from The Sands of Time, which makes it feel like a real return to the Prince’s roots.

Pros:

  • A return to the roots of The Sands of Time series
  • Intense, satisfying platforming sections
  • Some moments will leave you in awe

Cons:

  • Sound and animation flaws
  • Lifeless, sluggish combat
  • Short story that leaves you wanting more

The Prince makes a triumphant return to his roots in The Forgotten Sands, and all of your fears of this being a rushed game to simply be released alongside the movie can be abolished; we’ll put that one down to good timing. The magical feel of The Forgotten Sands and the extremely smooth platforming sections heavily outweighs the problems found in the combat sections of the game. Although the experience is over quickly, you may find yourself slotting the disc back in soon after completion, just to prolong your enjoyment of the game. The Forgotten Sands provides an excellent entry point to the series for newcomers, whilst acting as a true sequel for fans of The Sands of Time.

Score: 8/10

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25 Comments
  1. spooner_22
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    Don;t like Prince Of Persia games since I played the demo of the first PS3 one.

    Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 19:01.
    • Ryan1991
      Member
      Since: May 2009

      The others play much better. Loved this one as much as the first 3.

      Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 19:03.
  2. newsky87
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    I wouldn’t say the story left me wanting more, it was a bit crap really. But the platforming was definitely the highlight, freezing the water at the very last second before grabbing onto it never gets old! I went into the game with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised, definitely deserving of your 8 in the end. Probably helped by the fact the game was only £25. Nice review! :)

    Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 19:14.
    • mynameisblair
      hisnameisblair
      Since: May 2009

      I got the Collector’s edition for £19.85, the box is absolutely awesome, the art cards were nice, I got PoP Classic for free and some useless in-game DLC. Definitely worth the money I paid.

      Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 19:18.
      • newsky87
        Member
        Since: Apr 2010

        yournameislucky :)

        Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 19:24.
      • nemesisND1derboy
        Member
        Since: Apr 2010

        …seriously?

        Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 19:41.
      • DeathByNumbers
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Go through the TSA store (obviously); http://www.thesixthaxis.com/store/

        and go to shopto.net, who have the collectors edition for £19.85. However, I got the standard edition from Tesco entertainment for £12.75. lol your choice really (obviously go with shopto.net though as I hadn’t seen the collector’s edition that cheap)

        Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 19:56.
      • Demibeard
        Member
        Since: Aug 2008

        I bought my copy yesterday, it’s in the post :-)

        I rather enjoyed the previous PS3 one, I’d never played the franchise before, then again I think I picked that one up very cheaply, yep, just checked the box, pre-owned for £9.99. I had great fun playing that.

        Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 21:19.
      • MrSpeedyGonzales
        Member
        Since: Jun 2010

        Collectors edition is now £14.99 at play.com on all platforms

        Comment posted on 08/08/2010 at 13:14.
  3. beeje13
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    good review blair, although you havn’t managed to sell it to me :P

    Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 19:21.
  4. MadBoJangles
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    I borrowed it from a friend, it was okay but very short with zero replay value imo. I would have been gutted if I forked out full price for it.

    Deffo worth a rental or picking up if you see it cheap though :)

    Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 19:32.
  5. hairfreax
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    In my opinion it was boring and repetitive . Wall run, jump, kill 2 enemies repeat over and over again. No variation of levels and no challenge except a bit of timed jumping.

    Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 20:18.
  6. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Smashing review. Very much enjoyed the Sands of Time so might pick this up as the year progresses. Top review, Blair.

    Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 21:22.
  7. esir
    Member
    Since: Jun 2010

    I think you overrated this. The best from the quadrology atm are the 1st and 2nd games imo. The 1st because I have never played a game like that(when it appeared) and the 2nd because I have no problem with emo Prince and it fixed the shortcomings of the 1st game. The 3rd game was ok, it was censored but ok and this 4th game is just crap. The Prince is fugly for starters-no consistency between the other games, combat is crap and the story is weak. Believe what you want, but I think this game was just made so that it can ride the hype/profit wagon along with the film(which was also crap if you knew the original story).

    As for PoP 2008…I liked it, I hope they’ll make a sequel with the ending included this time.

    Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 22:50.
    • mynameisblair
      hisnameisblair
      Since: May 2009

      To clarify, it was more of a 7.5 than an 8, but since we don’t do half points, I rounded it up :). I really enjoyed it, though PoP 2008 was good, just very… different.

      Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 22:57.
    • DRCD1
      Member
      Since: Dec 2008

      I sure hope the sequel includes PoP 2008′s epilogue.

      Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 23:09.
  8. BryOnRye
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    Just got the platinum this afternoon after buying it pre-owned yesterday morning. Enjoyed everything apart from the combat which as you said is not brilliant.

    Comment posted on 06/08/2010 at 23:28.
  9. mugsybalone
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    Just to echo the comments above that was a great review, well written and thought out. With the collectors edition being dirt cheap on ShopTo (almost literally, Colin McRae Dirt 2 is on there for £14.85) my copy is in the post. Sadly other commitments – like round 1 of the Jeff Stelling Soccer Saturday Drinking Game – mean I won’t be able to make the most of PoP just yet, but your review is comforting in that I know I’ve got something good to look forward to.

    Comment posted on 07/08/2010 at 02:00.
  10. Kronik76
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    Firstly, I’m dumbfounded as to why it takes so long to review some games on this site. This game has been out for nearly 3 months now! It would be nice to see the reviews around or before the release date so as I could make more of an informed decision if I was going to buy on the release date, which incidentally I did. Secondly, this game only kept me occupied for 3 days on and off. That’s how long it took to platinum, and it has little or no replay value at all. 8/10 seems very generous to me.

    Comment posted on 07/08/2010 at 09:04.
    • Danza Di Fuoco
      Member
      Since: Aug 2009

      Yes its shocking… what do they even do?

      Comment posted on 14/08/2010 at 22:56.

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