Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
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7  |  Prince of Persia, Sands of Time Review: Old school, but not old school enough.
fishbulb , 12/8/2003 5:11:40 AM
There are a number of good things that can be said about Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Its an excellent example of the tried and true 'explore and find the switches to progress through the dungeon' type of game. Its simple in its design and flawless in its execution of what it does. In those ways its very similar to the original Prince of Persia game which is rightly remembered as being one of the finest puzzle platformers in game history. It looks nice and it plays nicer. Also, I think there's some sex in it. I'm not sure.

Unfortunately there's a couple of bad things we can say about the game as well. It's too easy and too short. It's a fun ride while it lasts but it doesn't last as long as it should. Sure, the game play is what you would expect, search around the dungeon (actually its a castle) to find the switches which allow you to progress on to the next area of the dungeon. You can run along walls, jump from ledges, swing on ropes and shimmy on ledges, and the dungeon is full of rooms in which you have to perform different combinations of these moves to progress, and it keeps itself interesting and new in these old game elements. The problem stems from the fact that none of these things really present a problem because they have added a new element to the game. Your character posses the ability to 'control time' and this is demonstrated in a few ways. The two most important to the non combat aspects of the game are the ability to reverse time, and the fact that every time you reach a new area of the dungeon your hero receives a 'vision' of the future, demonstrating exactly how you progress through the next set of challenges. Think about what these abilities detract from the game. Firstly, when you reach a new area you don't actually have to figure out what you need to do to reach the next zone, you have to remember what you just saw in your vision. Sure, its brief, but it always gives you enough to know exactly where to go next to start escaping a room. There's no exploration aspect. Then, there are no consequences for your mistakes. If you jump in the wrong direction or jump too early or hit a swinging rope at the wrong time, you just hit the 'rewind time' button and try again. Sure, there are a limited number of time rewinding dealies per save area, but how many times are you going to make the same mistake? The game also gives you frequent places to 'recharge' your time powers between saves. So, basically, the major elements that make a game like this difficult (exploration, and having to go back if you make a mistake) are completely removed. To compensate for this, the game includes an absurd number of bad guys in each fighting sequence. They just keep coming until your thumb turns blue from hitting 'x'. Sadly, the enemies are easy too. You can perform a large array of attacking techniques, dodging, counter attacking, jumping over bad guys to attack them from behind etc.. Every single bad guy can be killed with one attack. its not always the same attack, the short guys you have to jump over and attack from behind, the big guys with the spears you have to bounce off the walls to kill etc.. but in the end its just a matter of knowing which button to press when faced with each foe. Its also short, clocking in at about 7 hours.

game coverThis seems to be a common trend in modern games. They seem to lack the challenge of the classics. I don't think that its that I am a 'better' gamer at this stage in my life, in fact I probably have less time to devote to games than I have ever had in the past. It just seems that with all the modern bells and whistles of current games they have taken away the difficultly, and the experience of playing through a treacherous area. Sure, sometimes it was frustrating to die inches away from the next saving place because you didn't see the spikes that would pop out of the ground at the last second, but it forced you to think about what you were doing and reminded you to be careful because you actions had consequences. Modern games seem to have removed that from themselves (much like our modern society seems to have stepped away from requiring personal responsibility from its members (but that’s probably for another website) (don't ever use parenthesizes in parenthesizes). Was it the gamers that demanded simpler games, or was it the developers who were sick of hearing a small minority of complainers do what their descriptive term implies, who turned a blind eye to the difficulcy of the old games? Now a day’s people complain when you can't save your game every 5 steps in a deep dungeon. I wish more games made me think seriously about the dangers of attempting to jump from a ledge to a swinging rope instead of holding my hand like I'm the guy who folds boxes at the Pizza Hut.

Of course its not a bad game. Its a lot of fun, it looks great and the control is top notch and responsive. Its just not worth investing a full of 50 bucks on. Go out and rent it, as its definitely worth experiencing for what it does have to offer, but you won't be remembering it in 10 years for defining a genre.

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