-- A 20-year-old video game is coming to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles — and it's completely new.
Instead of just rolling out a sequel for Prince of Persia, previously available on older consoles and PC, publisher Ubisoft has again re-created the game from scratch. The new version is an elegant and vibrant addition to the long-standing series.
In an alternate version of ancient Persia, the Prince must eliminate a demonic force called the Corruption and its leader, Ahriman. The Corruption are represented by a black ooze blanketing the region as well as henchmen working for Ahriman.
Assisting the Prince is Elika, a mysterious woman whom the Prince rescues early in the story. After her father frees Ahriman, Elika joins the Prince in removing the Corruption from Persia.
The biggest change in this Prince of Persia from earlier versions are the graphics. The traditional three-dimensional look from recent releases is replaced with cel-shading, an animation technique that gives the graphics the look of a cartoon. The resulting landscapes boast sharper colors and intricate environmental details. This is most evident when you rid areas of corruption. Regions transforms from an icy, barren world to a lush landscape covered in bright green grass.
While previous titles in the series such as 2005's Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones showcased a linear story with ordered level structure, this Prince of Persia is more open. The world is split into four areas that must be cleansed. You can start in any area and advance however you choose.
There is also incentive to explore places again with the introduction of light seeds, or orbs that can be collected. When a region is cleared of Corruption, Elika uses magical powers to restore the land. This burst of power weakens her, and the prince must search for light seeds to renew her strength and open new parts of the world.
The common connection between this Prince of Persia and the trilogy for the original Xbox and PlayStation 2 is the acrobatic platforming. The Prince jumps across deep ravines, runs along walls, leaps from beams and zips up mountain facades very gracefully.
During these stages, Elika serves as the Prince's safety net. If he misses a jump, Elika swoops down to save him. When jumps are too far, Elika will grab the Prince and hurl him across.
In one sense, this relationship works because you're never interrupted by repeated deaths. However, those death-defying jumps and runs along walls don't seem so perilous when you essentially eliminate the consequences for a missed jump.
The absence of danger is also apparent during swordfights. If you're on the verge of death, Elika execute a special attack to save you.
Unlike most action games where handfuls of enemies attack, the Prince only confronts one villain at a time. It's a refreshing way to tackle combat in an adventure game. Instead of just jamming buttons as multiple mindless enemies approach, you must focus on one tougher, more intelligent foe.
Swordfights require both timing and precise strikes. The prince and Elika can work together to perform acrobatic combination attacks. Enemies smartly block, parry and counter strikes, forcing you to closely study their moves.
While battles are intriguing, it grows repetitive as you progress through the game. The range of enemies you'll battle is limited, therefore you repeatedly fight opponents utilizing the same combat style.
Fortunately, Prince of Persia maintains its focus on mesmerizing visuals and platforming for a pleasurable journey.