Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
16 December 2008
Review: Prince of Persia (PS3)
The new Prince of Persia tells the story a young woman and a young man who fall in love with each other, battle an evil force that threatens their world, and ultimately pay dearly for the choices they make.

When I walked the final steps to the conclusion of the game, I realized that more than any game in recent memory I was the character on the screen. The hours of conversation between the handsome, plucky Prince (a commoner with a fancy nickname) and his legitimately royal foil, the lively Princess Elika, had had their intended effect.

I was the Prince, and he was I. I knew what I had to do. I knew why I had to do it. I knew there would be dire consequences, and I felt a moment of uncertainty.

In that moment, I considered turning off the console, removing the disc, putting it away. Yet I could not -- I could no more avoid my fate any more than the Prince could avoid his. So the Prince and I did what had to be done. The final images of the game I shall not soon forget.

Surrounding the tale is an action game for casual players. The Prince and Elika move through a beautiful, intricate fantasy world via rhythmic acrobatic challenges, what I think of as Parappa parkour. Except for one moment near the climax, honed reflexes are not really required for the jumping and running. Combat is simple pattern recognition and interruption combined with improvisation using an elaborate -- but friendly -- combo system.

As I said, it's for casual players: you can't die, it uses a type of magic cursor to guide you when you're lost, and the autosave system is always keeping track of your progress. All the frustrations have been removed so you can enjoy the game's story and its satisfying movement challenges.

Don't go into this game expecting it to be Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. It is not -- and never was intended as -- a modern version of that classic. This is a brand new experience with new challenges and a story that grownups can appreciate.

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--Matt Matthews at 18:23
Comment [ 6 ]

Comments on this post:

Hmm. My reaction to the ending was very much different. I found it to be the wrong ending, and completely disrespectful to Elika. But then I also didn't see the two as in love.

I was also disturbed that my only choice to continue was to take the given ending. There was no donkey waiting for me to take on my way out of there, which is what I really wanted to do.

By Blogger "Generic" Joe Tortuga, at 17 December, 2008 12:57  

I understand, and I appreciate, your objections. I think the game invites internal conflict at the end.

But it is their story to tell, and I think this game forces you to face the fact that even as an actor you can't change the script.

I can't change what happens to my horse in Shadow of the Colossus. I can't bring that chick back that people always talk about in FF7. Etc.

It's just like the gameplay style they chose. You can say you don't like it, that you find it frustrating, and so forth, but it is what they made. Same with the ending. You can disagree with it, but it is what they made.

That the game evokes this kind of reaction (as I have seen on GAF and elsewhere) makes me very happy.

By Blogger jvm, at 17 December, 2008 13:08  

Well, I disagree. I felt like I was given a choice, and there wasn't one. If something happens that you can't control, then just put it in a movie, not an interactive bit.

That's definitely what happened with the horse in Shadow of the Colossus (something else I was emotional about). I admit I don't remember my reaction to Aeris, but it was the first console RPG I ever played.

Your post is only the second one I've seen about PoP, though, so maybe I'm missing some part of the blogoshpere:)

By Blogger "Generic" Joe Tortuga, at 17 December, 2008 13:30  

I see what you're saying, but I think this is another case of expectations not meeting reality. The folks I've seen complaining about PoP not being like PoP:SoT are not accepting the game's new mechanics for what they are.

As far as the story goes, you may have had an expectation of choice, but that's not the case. They're not giving you a choice. They're giving you a role to play.

It also happens to be one that I think they knew many people would find uncomfortable.

By Blogger jvm, at 17 December, 2008 13:35  

I haven't played, but got a taste when a friend stopped by with his 360.

I think I rather like the "no death" mechanic and wonder if other games will follow suit. It certainly won't fit everywhere, or even mostwhere - but it's an interesting option.

Curious how it compares to the Bioshock setup, now that I think about it.

By Blogger Josh, at 12 January, 2009 13:02  

re: The Controversy over the ending. I think the problem is to do with the game's structure.

You can play the stages in any order. During some stages, the banter between the characters is warm, in others it is colder.

During my playthrough, I happened to play one of the stages that was a bit colder last. The Prince was going on about how he only wanted his donkey, and mocking Elika's belief in her God and just generally whining.

So I didnt really get the feeling they were growing more and more in love as the game went on. So I wasnt so convinced that what he did was the right thing.

Not sure it would have been the right thing even if they WERE in love. And yes, it was frustrating not to be given a choice.

Elika gave her life to save the world. She'd already died once to revive a Satanic force, and now she gave her life to once again banish him.

The Prince then went and ignored her choice to bring her back. That final shot was fairly haunting but what the hell are they gonna do?

Anyway I'm with Joe Tortuga on this one. An 'ok' game though.

And to the original poster: I hope you find many more emotional moments in gaming. Biggest one for me was probably the last disc of Shenmue 2.

By Blogger lebowsk1, at 01 April, 2009 14:55  

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