Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones HD Review
Tying up the HD remake of the original trilogy comes Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. The Prince returns to Babylon accompanied by his love Kaileena although this isn’t apparent to those who didn’t see the alternate ending to Warrior Within. Upon arriving at Babylon’s port the Prince sees that the area is under attack. His ship is attacked leaving him floating on debris while his beloved washes ashore and is immediately taken by the attackers. The Prince has his work cut out from him while he searches for Kaileena and answers as well.
This wouldn’t be a Prince of Persia game without parkour based puzzles. As one would expect there will be plenty of careful maneuvering around traps and high above enemies. The platforming sequences consist of searching for switches or levers that will help gain entry to connected areas. Their complexity varies from dodging traps on timed doors to moving the environment itself in order to proceed. The harder puzzles are usually accompanied by visual cues and/or help from the camera in order to keep the game’s pace so the player can continually move forward.
Combat in The Sands of Time was definitely not developed. Once Warrior Within hit the scene it attempted to right the wrongs that its predecessor set. It made improvements by adding lengthier combos and beefed up dual wielding attacks. The Two Thrones continues the combat set before it by allowing the acquisition of secondary weapons from fallen foes. Basic combos can be executed and can even be given a unique twist by throwing acrobatics into the mix. This alone is fine, but the process can become repetitive since players will end up sticking with known methods for certain enemies time after time. In order to keep the game moving along this entry has implemented a new mechanic called “Speed Kills”. These allow the Prince to dispatch his enemies in a stealthy manner. When a speed kill is possible the screen shows this by creating a light aura around the player. A single button press initiates the move. From here the player must keep a keen eye out for the blade’s glint which require the press of the attack button. Depending on the enemy and the variation of the attack there can be between one and two parts to the silent execution. If everything is done correctly the quick kills keep the action moving along without becoming tedious and all with flair.
That only covers what the normal Prince can do. Contained in this story is the Dark Prince, a second personality residing within the Prince that occasionally takes control. This is where the game switches from planning attacks to overcoming obstacles with brute force. The Dark Prince is much more powerful and its a good thing too since his health is constantly draining and can only be replenished with the sand of those he’s defeated. The Dark Prince’s weapon of choice is the daggertail which acts much like a whip allowing him to wreak havoc on those around him. Players will find this a nice change of pace from the predictable combat of the normal Prince especially since you really feel the power contained within this character.
The primary issue stated by gamers in Warrior Within was the Prince’s new look and attitude. The Prince went from a cartoon stylized protagonist with a lot of innocence to a dark, evil Prince with a bad attitude and worse manners. Fortunately, he has dropped that act and has returned to his original self with a little added experience. The voice actor from the first game has even reprised his role as the Prince in order to truly bring back the character’s real feel back.
Another strength of the series has been its campaign. The game picks up after the Prince appeased the Dahaka and saved the empress from the Island of Time. She accompanies him to Babylon only to find the entire place under siege. Shortly after, the two become separated and the Prince must battle his way back to her. Throughout his journey it becomes obvious that a lot has changed, some of which is due to him, and that the Prince himself has been affected in strange ways by his previous adventure. This is where the Dark Prince comes into play and it gives a wonderful contrast between both princes as each has a distinctive personality.
Not only do the stories tend to be captivating, but they are of good length without feeling drawn out. This is a story that can last between 12-15 hours. 2010 has seen its fair share of over hyped games that barely have gamers holding a controller for 6 hours before the credits start rolling. This re-release shows us how games should have remained to this day instead of only finding 10+ hours in hardcore RPGs or free roam titles.
Trial and Error
This is a feeling that the Prince of Persia had trouble escaping. The platforming is superb and has really stood the test of time overall, but there are still numerous instances where repetition is required to pass. This is sometimes due to poor camera angles hiding the object which you should be leaping towards next. Other times it seems like the Prince has a mind of his own and wishes to jump awkwardly (slightly) in the wrong direction falling to his death. The chariot sequences scream trial and error since a small miscalculation will send you to the Retry screen. Its understandable since 3rd person platformers today still struggle with this issue for the most part, but that doesn’t stop it from being an unfavorable mark sitting upon a great mechanic.
Many will remember the powers the sands granted throughout the campaigns of the previous entries. The Two Thrones is no different in that aspect and bestows sand based abilities upon the Prince. Due to the new speed kills however the powers seem to rarely be needed or even remembered. Speed kills keep the player moving along with minimal combat interaction while also receiving a flashy move. Because of that it seems the sands would almost be worthless if it wasn’t for the rewind ability. For a game that made this mechanic famous it is odd to see its once shining star hidden behind the curtains.
I don’t remember the original version of the game being prone to glitches. From what I’ve seen across a few different downloaded copies on separate PS3s the game has a tendency to be buggy at first. During 3 tests the game locked up completely within 10 minutes of starting it up for the first time rendering any action useless besides turning the system off. One of these instances even took place before even seeing the start screen for the first time. It seems to be heavily present within the first couple levels, but then almost becomes non-existent afterwards. This won’t affect the score, for now, but since I noticed it in 3/5 copies checked I decided it was worth noting for those looking into the game.
Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones finishes off the HD remakes for the original trilogy. The title brings a good length and well paced campaign starring the Prince fans wanted to see again. The combat has had a few tweaks here and there the most obvious being the speed kills. Speed kills are an amazing addition that keep everything moving and definitely feel right when executed by the talented Prince. Everything fans have come to expect ranging from puzzles to the story line are here, but that also comes coupled with the negative aspects. The game does still have a tendency to dip into trial and error due to camera issues or the one-chance-to-do-it-right moments. Overall this game will tie up the loose ends left by the first two games and will provide gamers with a unique experience from start to finish as they battle the sand demons and the Prince’s own demons.[Editor's Note: Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones HD was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 hardware. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.] Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones HD Review,