The Prince of Persia was one of those games that really stood out back in the days of the side scrolling Pitfall Harry and other games. Now we're at 2003's and the Prince is back - but he's been given a new lick of paint and a brand new impressive 3d graphics engine. Now some of you will remember the barely adequate Prince of Persia 3d? Thankfully this game is nothing like that and is honestly one of the best looking games I've seen on the PS2.
How did I get to see it? Simple - I was at the ECTS in London this year and was able to sample the glories of this new Platform Action game thanks to a demonstration from one of the people at Ubi Soft's stand (which was one of the best stands and had some of the friendliest staff of the show)
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time seems set to blast onto the PS2 with gorgeous 3d graphics and effects, stunning battle sequences and a fluid camera that always attempts to keep the player in the thick of the action. The Prince himself comes armed with a devastating arsenal of moves and the sword combat is some of the best I've seen since the sadly short - Mark of Kri.
It is based on a context sensitive combat system once again and the number and range of moves changes depending on where the Prince is in relation to the enemy. Multiple enemies can engage you at once and you'll need to keep your wits about you as you battle them - but fear not for the Prince is armed with the power of the very Sands of Time themselves!
While the action is stunning to watch at full speed, the Prince can manipulate the very flow of time and the effect is akin to the Matrix - but performed with much more style, panache and fluidity than the game of the film. He can keep himself stocked with the Sands by killing enemies and using his dagger to steal the Sands that they contain, hold or are animated by. The Graphics engine is stunning, the lighting effects...camera effects as time slows down and the general whole look of the game is one of polish and precise engineering. It was also told to me that the originator of the game series helped with this version, so you get a much more rounded experience.
The game isn't just about fighting of course, what true Prince of Persia game would be complete without the evil platform sections where dexterity, a quick wit and a handy button finger can mean the difference between life and death. This isn't going to be a game for those people who can't solve various level and architecture related puzzles - it's a real mind bender in some locations. If you slip and fall to your death however, there is a saving grace - remember those Sands? They can be used to bring our hero back from the dead by rewinding time to the point that he made the mistake. The time control in this game is a hundred times better than Blinx and the whole control system is tight. He flips, jumps, runs up walls and around them like he's got ants in his pants, the whole sense of his acrobatic skill is pulled off thanks to the very flexible animations system and the perfect combination of level design aesthetics and balance.
I'll be doing a full review of this game closer to release so until then, rest assured that the Prince is back and he's not wearing a Raspberry Beret.