Last generation, The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time trilogy were my favorite set of platformers. I thought the use of time, whether it was to freeze, fast forward, or rewind, were implemented into thought out levels were traversing from one platform to another felt like an accomplishment.
I did not own any of the current gen systems when Prince of Persia, a reboot, came out so I happened to skip it. However, the reviews were lukewarm so I never bothered buying it. I decided to go out on a limb and try out The Forgotten Sands, named after the movie that came out the same week. What I found was an enjoyable experience that could have been so much better with an extra layer of polish.
None of the powers the Prince was given this time were practical in theory. Nevertheless, they were fun to use and were integrated into the puzzles at every step. From freezing water, to restoring objects that were once there, the player needed precise timing. I thought the end game areas, though, got a little out of hand. There were a few sequences where the prince had to wall run, then freeze water while in between two water falls, then bounce off one to the other, unfreeze it, wait for the prince to approach a third water fall, freeze it again in order to bounce to a forth then restore a pole so the Prince can start swinging. I am not saying the sequence was difficult, but my hands were tapping a, the joystiq, holding the back triggers, then had the tap on the front trigger. The problem was that it was simply too much button input for such a short sequence.
The level design and platforming were top notch and unlike the Warrior Within and Two Thrones that seemed to become more combat oriented, about 80% of the game is dedicated to platforming.
The Prince is just as agile when taking out enemies, as he has a simple 3 hit combo. However, he also has a charged attack, can kick the enemy back, and has an aeriel slash. A part of these techniques, the Prince has a RPG-esque growth tree where he can learn four more skills, each based off of an element. Combat is a bit shallow but it breaks up the platform sequences.
The graphics are a bit inconsistent. The character models, like in Assassins Creed 2, are simply atrocious. I don’t even know how to describe the characters faces, but I do know some look more human than others only because there is facial hair. Some levels look especially good, such as the outdoor gardens, while others look rather generic. Its a shame, too, because the latter half of the game not only has better looking levels, but the platform sequences are simply more fun. Watching The Prince defy physics is a bit weird, though, as the way he runs across walls seems a bit worse than in The Sands of Time.
Musically, nothing stands out. However, I consider it a major upgrade from Warrior Within considering there is no Godsmack. The voice acting is decent enough, as it seems Ubisoft attempted to make The Prince witty and charming, again.
Speaking of the lines delivered, the story seems to be a bit nonsense. It was not until the scene before the credits rolled that I realized the game was a prequel to Sands of Time. How The Prince reacts in Sands of Time would really make no sense if he had actually gone through this current-gen adventure so I have attempted to negate the story completely.
The game excels at level design but stumbles at every other front. The game is a rental, at least, seeing as it took 6-7 hours to beat. There may be some incentive to go back, but does it really warrant another play through? I think not, but I do believe the series going back to its last-gen roots is a step in the right direction.