Wednesday, 09 February 2005
Last year, Ubisoft brought us one of the very best games we’ve seen in quite a number of years. The title of that game, why it was Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time. Despite the poor and repetitive battle system, the sheer beauty, and the innovative platforming sections culminated in a title that has been held in very high regard ever since it’s initial release. So it obviously comes as no surprise that a year later we find ourselves with a sequel. So more of the same equals an equally impressive title right? Well, that could be true. But the Prince seems to have taken a nasty turn along the way….
It all seems to go horribly wrong right from the very off. The initial menu screen has some quite appalling “Metallica style” guitar playing as the back ground aesthetics. Could you have imagined that in the Sands Of Time? I think the term that most would seem to utilise for this kind of change would be that the game has gone more “mature”. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. If anything Warrior Within has become much more adolescent.
One of the major minus points that most seemed to level at Sand Of Time was the repetitive nature of the battle system. I think we can all agree that the fighting system seemed to be hastily rushed during development, with a reliance on button mashing, and utilising a single move over and over again in order to achieve victory. This year see’s this section of the game totally reworked. The Prince is now capable of powerful weapon combo’s, combining kicks and slashes, and finishing with loping off your opponents head with great aplomb. You can even pick up a second weapon, and utilise two at once in order to hack away at your enemies health in even quicker time. That’s not all however, as the environment plays a much bigger part in proceedings. If you find yourself surrounded by enemies, you can spin around a pole rising up through the floor with your blade unsheathed, causing massive damage on your opponents and buying yourself a bit of time. It’s a hugely improved system, that’s for certain.
The over-reliance on fighting, rather than the exquisite platforming that’s still in evidence is a fact that definitely begins to grate over time. This is no more evident than in how the story itself plays out. The Prince finds himself being pursued by a beast known as Dahaka. In order to be rid of the beat, that will stop at nothing to see the Prince meet his death due to he being the one who awakened the Sand of Time in the first game, the Prince must travel back in time in order to kill the Empress of Time. With her dead, the Sands of Time could never be created, so the Prince could never awaken them, and Dahaka would never be wishing to slaughter the poor Prince. Let’s be blunt, it’s not the most intellectually gifted plotline we’ve ever witnessed. But it does do its job admirably and encourages you to progress.
Like the Sands of Time, the Prince’s powers of utilising time are once again in full effect. The most well known of these was the ability to rewind time for a few seconds in order to cheat death. As stated, these abilities are still very much in there, but they’re utilised and under scrutiny far less often than the first title.
Although Sands of Time was aesthetically astounding, it was the storybook feel that the developers created with the nuances to the decoration that really made the game the visual feast it still is. I’m sad to say that despite the graphical standard no doubt taking a slight step upwards in terms of technical ability, the turn to the “dark” side has affected the aesthetics to quite a detrimental degree. The world is smothered in greys and dark browns, rather than the colour filled world of the last game.
The platforming luckily enough still remains, with the Prince adding the ability to slide down huge pieces of material that hang from the walls in order to beat the platforming puzzles that the game offers you. The wall running/jumping, and the vast array of acrobatic moves that we utilised so well last year have been included once again, and still feel as fresh, and as easily used as before.
Although the fantastic spectacle of whisking the Prince around the world he finds himself in has been brought along for this sequel, the whole game has been diluted by the need to make the title much more mass-market. While the battle system is massively improved, the platforming sections are still way more interesting and enjoyable to play. And while I‘ve always been one to sing the praises of gameplay over aesthetics, the sheer beauty of the world that was abound in The Sands Of Time, and the wonder that it instilled in your mind has again been lost by the need to create a game more in touch with the “average gamer”. Although Warrior Within is most certainly an exciting title, if it outsells it’s prequel, then the whole gaming world is upside down