Review: Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones

Pop3So you think Side Scrollers are dead? Think again. OK, 2D Scrollers are, at least, in the vast configuration of modern gaming. But wait! We live in a 3D world, and if there’s one pervasive theme in the video games industry, then it’s “don’t bash a franchise!” So thank goodness for developers that have enough cojones to make a game better than the sum of its reputation, and this is indeed the case with Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, the third installment in UbiSoft’s reincarnation of the legendary PoP series.

Hollywood could learn a lot from UbiSoft: sequels are supposed to be BETTER (or at least as good) as the original. Seriously, name five movie sequels that can live up to that reputation. I get stuck after Godfather II.

The Story

Okay, so after having kicked the snot out of Empress Kaileena in PoP: Warrior Within, you’re heading home with Cyberbabe Kaileena, who sports a new (and hot, I might add) look. “What?” You might say? “But I killed Kaileena in PoP:WW.” Yes you did, unless you were fastidious enough to get all your life upgrades and find the Water Sword – in which case you played the alternate ending and kicked the snot out of the Dahaka instead. In that ending, the Prince nailed the babe and sailed off into the sunset.

Upon returning home, the Prince discovers that the nasty Vizier is back, screwing around with the Sands of Time as usual and generally making the Prince’s life miserable once more. In this story, split personalities and polygamy follow the Prince like a bad burrito – he switches back and forth to the Dark Prince (not unlike the mask transformation in WW) and Farah’s back, and as irritating as ever. Booyah! The fun begins. The frenetic game play includes new creatures and sexy new ways of killing them, lots of bone-crunching challenges and puzzles, elaborate cut-scenes and an interesting storyline.

It’s the Game Play

The first thing I noticed about PoP: TTT was the graphics. My heavy-duty but still outdated ATI All-in-Wonder Pro 9600 had no problem churning out photorealistic detail in the cut-scenes, fog effects that provide marvelous perspective and quite simply, an eerie atmosphere to the game. On the downside the character animations are still cheesy-looking – square fingertips: need I say more? So who should care about the graphics? I certainly don’t, but they’re nifty nonetheless.

Lest we remember the Matrix Reloaded? What really makes a game special (including PoP: TTT ) is – what else? – the game play. One thing UbiSoft has done exceptionally well with the PoP franchise is to create fast-paced game play, an intuitive user interface and plenty of sweet combos that allow you to get medieval on the baddies. One thing, however: if you don’t have a game pad and plan on playing this game, then go out and get one. Don’t even bother trying to use the keyboard/mouse. Believe me, the game’s frustrating enough without additional migraines.

What I liked: The story’s great – it’s interesting and engaging, and if you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself engrossed in the storyline. The action is fast and furious – there are plenty of awesome key combos and beasties upon which to land them, and the game’s acrobatics make you feel like your have your own virtual Jungle Jim. I spent hours upon hours playing this game. Actually, I’d be afraid to figure out how much time I spent playing this game, but my girlfriend did, if the nights sleeping on the couch are any indication.

What I didn’t like: The user interface is slick, but it can be frustrating too. Most irritating are the switching camera views that mess with the directional controls. UbiSoft could have done a better job with this because you’ll find yourself jumping out of a room and right back in. It’s painful at times. And it wasn’t until the final boss battle that I figured out how speed kill actually works, so you may want to pay attention during the opening tutorial. The puzzles are often quite difficult and not as intuitive as they could be, and even in easy mode the game can prove a real challenge. Definitely not for impatient types like me.

The Bottom Line

UbiSoft is certainly consistent: playing PoP (I, II or III) is a love/hate relationship that will have you yelling at the screen; using words that you can’t say in front of your mother; giving-up, going back and giving-up again; and Googling ‘Prince of Persia Walkthroughs.’ I found myself back-and-forthing between the game and the video walkthroughs at StuckGamer.com, because even the best written walkthroughs can’t adequately explain the methods and processes – the hoops you literally have to jump through – that you need to beat this incredibly frustrating game.

If it sounds like I hated this game, then I won’t lie: I did at times. But if you dig addiction, get the game. And make no mistake: you will become addicted to this game, so you might want to look for support groups up-front.

Title: Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones
Platform: PC
Publisher: UbiSoft Casablanca and Montreal

Graphics: 8.0/10
Story: 8.5/10
Ease: 7.5/10
Game Play: 8.5/10

Overall Rating: 8.25/10 Good

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