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Climbing buildings, making death defying leaps, standing atop locations that make Assassins Creed look like anthills. No trilogy offers platforming gameplay like this, and now all three titles are available in one HD collection. Though not perfect, it's still an essential purchase.
SANDS OF TIME
Sands of time is known best for it's central gimmick - the then revolutionary sands of time, which give you the ability to rewind time if you are killed by an enemy or fall to your death. A brilliant idea that a pathetically small amount of modern games take advantage of, this eases the frustration without ever making the game feel too easy.
What Sands of Time, and the whole trilogy for that matter, should be known for, is the near perfect controls. The prince backflips, wall runs, climbs jumps between platforms, all features we've seen in thousands of games - the difference is that this game uses them all masterfully. You never feel like you're anything less than in complete control of the prince.
The story takes place in an Arabian nights style world - the game has a really nice storybook feel to it, with the prince starting out as an obnoxious rich kid and slowly becoming more likeable throughout the game. He has an ACTUAL CHARACTER ARC and I'm hoping by using block capitals that GAME DEVELOPERS WILL ACTUALLY REALISE THIS IS WHAT GAME PROTAGONISTS NEED. It's an enchanting tale and will keep you playing even through the more frustrating parts.
Ah yes the frustrating parts. The combat is simplistic and it usually feels like there are too many enemies to get through in each area. You're not playing this to fight enemies; you're playing it for the platforming. Nonetheless, it rarely outstays its welcome too much and is hardly game ruining. What does have a good attempt at ruining the game however, is the sometimes awful camera. Easily the game's biggest problem, there will be occasions when the camera will happily show you a brick wall while the off screen prince tumbles to his death. Again, not game ruining, just frustrating.
But overall this is one of the best games of the last generation. So let's see what they screwed up for the sequel shall we?
Some gamers list this as one of the worst games of all time. While this is ridiculous, as this features gameplay better than Sands of Time, it becomes obvious right from the first cutscene where that criticism has come from. It seems some evil people in marketing decided the best way to make the game sell would be to fill it with violence, female nudity, rock music and swearing. Oh how I wish I was joking. Gone is the charming design and brilliant writing from The Sands of Time, now we have dominatrix's jiggling their buttocks to the camera and the prince's new catchphrase is 'you bitch'.
If you can look past that, you'll find the great gameplay form sands only better. New powers allow you to travel through time for some interesting puzzles, the game is longer and the combat has been greatly improved. Just a shame that it's nowhere near as charming as the original. Still, plenty of time to fix that for the trilogy closer eh?
THE TWO THRONES
Well at least they tried. Yes the prince is back to his Sands of Time persona and we can actually see daylight again (after the Goths paradise that was Warrior Within). We see the return of old characters and the aesthetics are more in keeping with the first game but it all feels like it's trying too hard to ape the original. The writing clearly isn't to the same standard as the first game, with all the subtlety of the characters hung out to dry. The prince just comes across as unlikeable and the less said about his 'dark self' (which sounds like a helium voiced nine year old trying to sound cool by doing a Clint Eastwood impression) the better.
Still this boasts the best gameplay of the series, proving that even though the marketing and writing departments spent the trilogy setting themselves on fire and running around screaming; the level designers learnt from the previous titles and made a game that feels like a real step up from Warrior Within. This features the same platforming form the first two, but taken to dizzying new heights. True, it now has some pointless chariot racing thrown in at certain points but overall this is a great package.
Which can easily be said for this collection. All the games look great in HD, the gameplay has aged wonderfully and the story problems can easily be overlooked. Buy it, and experience one of the greatest trilogies in gaming.
PS. There are versions of Warrior Within and The Two Thrones for the PSP (called 'Revelations' and 'Rival Swords' respectively). You might be wondering how Ubisoft managed to get those two games working on the PSP. The answer is that they didn't, they're both broken messes with glitches aplenty and horrible combat that is near impossible to get past. Avoid like the plague.
PPS. Some moron decided to 'reboot' the series for the Xbox 360 and PS3. It's called simply 'Prince of Persia' and features cel-shaded graphics. It is so inferior to the three games I have reviewed here that it barely warrants mentioning. Once again, avoid like the plague.
This boxset is a great idea! The main reason for this is it allows you to ensure that the series is easily playable if you haven't got a PS2 or yours breaks. This was a no-brainer for me as it was once my favourite game series. When I put the disc in I thought the switching system between each game was kind of clunky but definately worth it. The colours in the game look better than ever and although the graphics haven't been overhauled you can still see the difference between the standard and the HD. If you have a HD tv then you already should know how good an idea this is. I also love the fact that trophy support is in the box set. It was nice to have trophies available for the game and it meant that there was another reason as well as nostalgia to play the games. The games aren't new in any way really, just interpolated the graphics to make them HD which has in turn slightly improved colour rendition and made the game look a tiny bit better. A great thing for major Prince of Persia fans to own and even better for people who never played the series back in the day!
I can't believe this game is only a tenner! It contains all three of the Prince of Persia sands of time trilogy on one Blu Ray disc, which is a fantastic bargain, as each of the games used to be available on their own, and would be well worth the full cost individually. The three games tell a story that lasts across the trilogy, and it's important to play them in order - it'll take about thirty hours to play through the whole thing, so leave plenty of time free!
The basic story of the Sands of Time (although I don't want to spoil anything!) is that the hero o the story, the Prince travels with his father to a new kingdom called Azad. Here, he is raiding the palace to find a valuable item when the Vizier of the kingdom tricks his father into releasing a terrible evil that turns people into sand monsters. Only a few people are left alive, and the Prince must use the item he stole, a magical dagger to control time and save the kingdom. Unfrtonately, things don't run smoothly and the Prince spends the trilogy trying to put right what went wrong and save the people he cares about.
There's a lot of fantasy in the story, but it all feels quite believable, as the story is very well told and you care about the characters involved. The prince is really well voiced, and you get really into the events. The gameplay is really good, and is a clever combination of platform-type sections, combat and puzzles, as well as exploring the environment. These are the games in the series:
1 - The Sands of Time
In this game, the Sands of Time are released, turning people into monsters after the evil Vizier tricks the sultan into releasing them. The prince works with a beautiful princess to put an end to the events. This is the first game in the series, and although the graphics aren't as good as the others, there are some real nice-looking sections. Combat is a little boring at times, but this is a really fun game with some good puzzles and environments to explore, like the aviary stage. The game is quite hard at times, but the end boss is far too easy. 4/5 for me.
2 - Warrior Within
This continues the story several years later, and is much darker than the first game. The prince has travelled to the island of time, where he tries to travel back in time and prevent the sands from being created, so that the events of the first game would never have happened. This had quite a complex story, but it's really interesting, and has a great villain. Not everybody liked this game because it's not typical style of Prince of Persia, but it was my favourite. 5/5
3 - The Two Thrones
This game continues immediately after the ending of warrior within, and features the prince returning to his father's kingdom in Babylon. Famous locations like the Hanging Gardins and the Tower of Babel are in the game, and it's really impressive in terms of graphics and design. I didn't like all parts of this game - for example, the fights aren't as good as in the other games, and I didn't like the boss, but overall it's a really good game to finish the story. 4/5
Overall, this is brilliant value. These are three great games, and together, this is a perfect present for someone who hasn't played the games. Even if you have played one or two, you should buy this.