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Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Wii)

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Genre: Role-playing / Release Date: 2010-05-21 / Published by Ubisoft

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      23.12.2011 18:59
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      An impressive translation.

      Without the punch and power of its HD brethren, many games ported onto the Wii from the Xbox and Playstation undergo changes - and this is certainly the case here. That said, this is no quick cut-and-shut job. Far from it, Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands for the Wii is an entirely different game to the versions on the other consoles, with its own unique storyline, setting and characters, all tailored to the specific quirks and demands of the hardware.

      At first glance, the game is not dissimilar to the Xbox/Playstation version - insomuch as the generic Prince of Persia/Arabian Nights theme is ever that different - but it quickly differentiates itself from its sibling. Where the other game deals with the Prince's visit to his brother's kingdom-under-attack, there's no mention of familial visits here - instead, the Prince has come across a genie, and following convention wishes for a kingdom of his own. Said genie obliges our protagonist, but true to form he doesn't read the small print, and soon finds himself caught up in a quest full of cursed cities, vengeful witches, a magical sword, a stricken princess and a malevolent plant that's taken over the kingdom.

      Story-wise, then, the game earns few points for originality - it feels like the makers have drawn tropes of the genre at random from a hat and shuffled them around to form a plot, but does this matter? Not enormously; without a strong storyline the game lacks the punch and connection of the other games that make up the Sands of Time trilogy (this story being an "interquel", slotting in between games one and two), but it's a satisfying, fun effort that contributes nothing much to the canon but at least represents a return to safer (and better) ground for the franchise after 2008's iffy cell-shaded reboot.

      What makes the game worth the time (and it does take a while, stretching towards 20-25 hours of gametime) is the care that's been taken to fit the experience to the console. Platforming doesn't always lend itself terribly comfortably to the Wii, and the nature of Prince of Persia games calls for a lot of precise acrobatics and environmental-exploration - but the creators have made it work here. The game was never going to handle quite as smoothly as its sibling does on the other consoles, but it's only in sections that demand real care and precision that you start to feel the clumsiness of the controls having an effect.

      In any case, what is lost in the way you control the Prince is made up for with some creative innovations in the title. As you make your way through the game, you acquire a number of skills, giving the Prince the ability to summon sand storms that lift him off the ground, conjure handholds on walls that open up new routes across the city and create weird orbs that stop him falling to his doom. These are well-suited to the Wii remote, and allow you to string together the abilities, creating bespoke pathways across the game's treacherous landscape. This version of Forgotten Sands also incorporates a limited two-player mode, with the second player able to take on the role of the genie, slowing down traps, distracting enemies and attracting the Prince's attention to points of interest on-screen. It's a role of limited satisfaction for player two, but it's something, and represents at attempt to bring something new to the title that's lacking in the plotting and setting.

      Visually, this slots neatly into the PoP pantheon, and does everything you'd expect of it - it lacks perhaps the dazzle of the version on the other consoles, but there are some nice backdrops and appealing environments to explore. Combat is hit-and-miss; it's initially fun to use the remote as your sword and the nunchuck as the Prince's free fist, but battles tend to degenerate into the Wii equivalent of button-mashing, leaving you flailing wildly around while the Prince hacks aimlessly at anything and everything on-screen. It's an improvement on the last instalment - the beautiful but unsatisfying 2008 entry - but only just. Where that version was too tentative and scripted, this goes to the other extreme. It's a bit manic, but it does a job.

      Taken on its own merits, the Wii's interpretation of Forgotten Sands is a fun, appealing game that offers good game-time for your money. As part of the franchise it contributes nothing, really, standing alone and self-contained as a story, but it slots in neatly in terms of look and feel. Where it really deserves praise, though, is in its efforts to be more than a direct port - the game responds to the very different demands of the Wii and creates a version that is tailored to the console. It's a laudable effort, and a fun experience - and even if you've already played through the Xbox/Playstation version, this will represent a fresh new challenge.

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