Across a couple of reboots, a movie and a few graphic novels, the Prince of Persia series has captivated audiences with its immersive worlds. This action-adventure series has influenced other games and paved the way for a new generation of interactive storytelling.
The first game in the series is a classic that helped define the genre. This platformer combines a unique story with incredible gameplay.
Sands of Time
As the first 3D Prince of Persia game, Sands of Time pushed the genre into new territory. It eschewed typical platformer mechanics, giving players the opportunity to truly feel like royalty as they scaled towers and jumped across gaps. The Prince’s voice narrated each cutscene, adding a layer of depth and characterization. The soundtrack was also fantastic, with a variety of arabic-style tunes that fit the Prince’s characterization and helped set the scene.
It’s not often that games combine both superb art style and pioneering technology, but Sands of Time manages to pull it off brilliantly. The worlds in the game are huge and the graphics are incredibly detailed, even by today’s standards. The use of lighting is a real stand-out feature, with some of the best shaders ever seen in a video game. It’s a technological masterpiece that continues to impress players 12 years after its release.
This is one of the most renowned prince of persia games for its deep story and innovative gameplay mechanics. While some players may be disappointed that it doesn’t include much combat, the game compensates with a wide range of environmental puzzles and thrilling challenges. Its story is particularly compelling given that it released in 2003, during the height of Islamophobia and President George W Bush’s Axis of Evil speech. Its cultural depictions of Iran are also problematic, as the game falls into the category of Orientalism.
The Forgotten Sands
The newest addition to the Prince of Persia family offers fans more of what they like about this series. The game features new mechanics such as the Prince’s ability to rewind time and the addition of exciting powers such as the whirlwind, flame trail and ice blasts. The Prince also gets another visual makeover that is reminiscent of his look in the 2008 cell shaded reboot.
The Prince is sent by his father to learn leadership from his brother Malik, only to find the city under siege from an invading army. The invaders are seeking Solomon’s Army, a powerful supernatural force imprisoned with the palace. The Prince must battle the invaders and their leader Ratash with the help of Razia, a queen of the Marid djinn.
The Forgotten Sands tries to return the franchise to its roots by mixing traditional platforming and combat with a new open world design. Unfortunately, it fails to live up to the expectations set by the original Sands of Time. Many fans were disappointed by the 2008 reboot’s radical changes to art style, gameplay and storyline. The Forgotten Sands does feature a few new elements such as a deadly new ally and the introduction of a dynamic AI companion that interacts with the Prince in both combat and acrobatics. It also includes a new experience system that allows the Prince to level up by picking up yellow essences and invest them into upgrades on his skill tree.
After the success of The Sands of Time Ubisoft decided to continue the story of Prince of Persia with a new game, Warrior Within. This 2004 sequel is a much darker affair and a far more violent one, but it still boasts many of the same qualities that made its predecessor so popular.
As with The Sands of Time you will find yourself navigating a variety of confined environments where you are pitted against hordes of enemies. While a large percentage of the levels are re-used from the first game it would be churlish to say that Warrior Within doesn’t offer many moments of pure platforming delight, especially when traversing the clockwork towers of both the past and present.
The combat system has been altered and the Prince is now able to perform a series of acrobatic attacks while wielding his sword. He and Elika can also combine sword and acrobatic attacks, making for some impressive combos. However, this also means that the combat is a lot more frequent and you will be forced to fight your way through hordes of enemies that are regenerating as quickly as you are.
The atmosphere has been made darker and grittier in comparison to the previous game, and this is further accentuated by a rock soundtrack and gruff voiced anti-hero. This may sound like a recipe for success but in reality it is a cynical cash-in that has little to no appeal beyond the sands of nostalgia.
After escaping the Isle of Time in Warrior Within, the Prince returns to his home kingdom of Babylon and finds it in ruins. He soon learns that the vizier is behind this and must once again face his dark alter-ego. This game brings back the light-hearted tone of the original Sands of Time, and the Prince is much more likable this time around. This game also introduced a new combat system that rewards stealth over open battles. If the Prince sneaks up on an enemy, he can perform a Speed Kill, a small minigame of timing button presses that if successful downs an unsuspecting foe in one blow.
Another area where Two Thrones one-ups its forebears is in acrobatics. The Prince can run along walls, swing from pipes and poles and walk on beams without losing his balance. In addition to this, he can execute a series of jumps and tricks, including running along the side of a building, launching from a height to grab onto a ledge, and climbing walls and ceilings by using his dagger as a grappling hook.
While the acrobatics are a welcome improvement, the story is weak and the ending is disappointing. It was also plagued by glitches that inhibited proper gameplay. Luckily, a modder recently released an unofficial patch that fixes many of these problems.