Prince of Persia: Sands of Time HD Review
Seven years ago Ubisoft rebooted the side scrolling Prince of Persia series of the early 90′s and created something truly magnificent with more current technologies. That trilogy graced the PS2 and original Xbox and not only stood out from the competition, but crafted mechanics that games released down the line would try to imitate. Games have continued to evolve and, for the most part, implement intuitive ideas to become the leader like Prince of Persia did and leave numerous followers after its release. With so many AAA titles flooding the market this year do gamers care to reminisce about games created several years ago?
If there has one aspect of the game that has retained most of its impact it is PoP’s presentation. The HD upgrade aids players in diving back into the atmosphere the game created. The architecture’s beauty is met with crumbling stone either as a result of the battles at hand or the slow decay done by time itself. These surroundings are combined with the prince’s isolation from most living things as he makes his way through corridors decorated with translucent veils hanging from the ceiling and rooms littered with sparkling sand that hovers slightly above the ground. The characters themselves hadn’t been redesigned to reflect a more realistic appearance as later iterations would implement. The soft cartoon influence on the characters gave them a certain vibrant appearance as they contrasted against broken buildings and glimmering sand. Prince of Persia created a winning environment and complimenting atmosphere that awed many in the last generation of gaming.
Prince of Persia’s puzzles are a major aspect of the game since it focuses more on these problem-solving moments rather than combat. Throughout the game the prince must navigate areas using the environment to his advantage. Jutting poles, broken pillars, ledges carved into walls and so on all serve their purpose in allowing the prince to proceed on his quest. Prince of Persia birthed the refined free running experience in video games. These obstacles were overcome through the agile and nimble feats performed by the player. It could be as simple as leaping between ledges while hanging onto a wall. The difficulty would gradually increase in complexity to points where your task was to wall run past spinning blades moving vertically in the wall and then leap off the wall to grab a small broken pillar. It is easy to see what Ubisoft created here was the precursor to the fluid free running experience found in their Assassin’s Creed games nowadays.
Prince of Persia gained much praise for its mechanics, presentation and the standard it set which is why it gained the Game of the Year award in 2003. It became an instant classic. Gamers should always set aside time to acknowledge and appreciate the games that created the building blocks for current games on the market today. For those who haven’t even tried the series are truly missing out on the games that helped shape major parts of a gaming generation. The platforming coupled with the first successful use of time manipulation in a game really helped this game grab the audience. No longer did failure mean the end. Ubisoft implemented the ability to rewind time in order to reverse deaths from combat, poor judgment or other unfortunate instances. Other ground breaking games such as Braid borrowed the idea they created. The point is Prince of Persia should not be missed.
Unfortunately, during the game’s visual upgrade the camera was not altered at all. The camera can provide some problems with the platforming. In certain instances you will need to look in a specific direction to line up your jump only to have the camera give an awkward angle on the scene causing you to jump to your death. In another case the camera will randomly switch views on you while navigating obstacles which causes your player’s direction to change as well if you are holding the analog stick. This also leads to an increased death count. For trophy hunters, I’m sure they will find this especially annoying since one of the trophies requires that you use the rewind feature less than 20 times. That can be hard to achieve when the prince leaps off ledges due to a poor view of the situation.
Here’s another piece of the game that’s age really shows. Prince of Persia was never about the combat anyways, but when you’re forced into combat it helps when things are fluid. The combat is repetitive and can become quite a nuisance later on in the game. It is a platformer first and it is obvious that those set pieces took precedence during development.
The game is sitting on the PSN for $14.99. For those who have never had the opportunity to play the game on PS2 or Xbox this may not sound so bad. Those that have experienced it before won’t find graphics enough of a reason to return to the game unless you are addicted to increasing your trophy count. Anyone who is lucky enough to have the original fat PS3 with backwards compatibility is better off picking up a used copy for a few bucks at your nearest video game specialty shop and accepting the outdated graphics.
The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is the first of the trilogy to be remade in HD. The game’s atmosphere still holds the same amount of impact as it did 7 years ago. The puzzles are still intricate and entertaining as well. The game’s age does show through the unreliable camera control and the overly simplistic combat. That aside the game did set the stage for the years to come as its mechanics were copied and expanded on in many ways. If you have seen this journey to its end before, then $15 may seem like a steep price, but for those who missed this gem I would recommend giving it a shot.[Editor's Note: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time HD was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 hardware. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.] Prince of Persia: Sands of Time HD Review,