PAX 08 in Review: Prince of Persia

Thursday, September 4, 2008
Back with another new twist on classic gameplay, Ubisoft strikes a blow for the artistic with the new, cel-shaded Prince of Persia. The old Sands of Time prince is no more with this new character filling the role as a snarky, gauntlet wielding piratical type. Add in a new co-star with magical abilities a semi-open world and a drastically reworked battle system, and it's easy to see the series is headed into new territory.

It's a rare thing these days to see a company so comfortable with repurposing established franchises. In an industry plagued with sameness, moves like this bring a breath of fresh air. This is the sort of move that can broaden the horizons of players trapped in a comfortable genre cycle. It's arguable that the only way some people will ever accept new types of games is to have them forced on them. It helps that the new Prince actually looks like a good game.

The visual style is the first thing you're bound to notice. Gone are the super detailed realistic looking graphics of previous titles. Instead we're given the same detail with an artistic flair similar to European animated films. The color palette is full, leaving behind the grainy, Gears of War, washed out look so common in today's games. The Princes clothes shine in bright blue and red, and Elika's magics glow like a deep sea creature.

The battle system has taken out the multiple cheap-shotting opponents in favor of a one on one dueling system. The fights look amazing with strong visual cues denoting a change in offensive and defensive stances. The animations for the various moves are intricate and varied, helping to keep each fight from looking exactly he same. With only one enemy to fight at a time, each battle looks different, with moves and combos specific to the enemy you're fighting. The development team took cues for the fights from Advent Children and the Soul Calibur series in order to create battles that are as interesting to look at as they are to play.

The biggest difference in the gameplay is the open world feel. There are several environments in the game and it's up to you to decide where you start and where you go from there. No matter how you tackle the environments, you're going to be met with increasingly difficult challenges as you progress. Your enemies unleash strange, almost organic forces into the world that, once freed, will populate the remaining game world to make continuing on harder as you reach the conclusion.

The changes don't make this feel like an entirely new game so much as the next step in it's evolution. Much of what we expect from the series is still intact, and it all meshes together well enough that even the staunchest supporter of the old ways should be hard pressed not to enjoy this latest entry.