Frozen water streams: you can swing from them

Hi and welcome to my review of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. It's the same as previous POP games with the added ability to solidify water so that you can swing from water streams, and run up waterfalls. Thanks, bye.

It really is tempting to leave it at that. I was expecting there to be some significant advancement in acrobatics, combat, puzzles or enemies, but there just isn't. The cynical part of me is thinking that maybe it was rushed out to coincide with the release of the movie? I was expecting a whole range of more advanced acrobatic and combat mechanics, but maybe I was expecting too much.

Aside from the lack of new features this is actually a great game, so I don't want the whole review to come across as a complete negative. The gameplay is very satisfying, and the jump / swing / grab / jump again mechanics are clean and comfortable without being too easy. A few of the multiple leap sequences which you need to plan out in advance and then carry out with careful timing will have you holding your breath in suspense. The climbing/wall-hopping feels good and is reminiscent of the Assassin's Creed games, but in a much less open-world fashion as the all-powerful fixed camera guides you on your way.

The combat is pretty good, but like the rest of the game, is nothing you haven't done before and lacks variety. Enemy AI is hopeless and enemies mindlessly horde around you, slowly raising their weapons when they are about to strike. Enemies with shields need a knock back before a sword strike, and there are a few special grabby/jumpy moves you can pull off, but aside from that the combat is pretty much just button bashing. If you trap an enemy up against a wall or cliff, you will do a cool stab/throw move, but this can often give another enemy time to land one of his ridiculously slow attacks on you. Having boss fights is a nice inclusion in the game but they generally only amount to run in, attack, run out. The cutscenes make an attempt to draw you into the experience more, but it is hard to take the prince's character seriously with his posh British schoolboy voice.

One thing this game definitely has is length, although most of the palace interiors seem so similar that getting to see other environments would have added some much-needed variety to the scenery. The open-air and garden areas are a welcome break from the sandy interiors but are still very similar to the rest of the game and don't present any new puzzle or trap types. Most of the puzzles are just re-arrangements of the same pieces in a different or more complex order - a swinging blade, then a spinning saw, then two swinging blades, then two spinning saws. In the later levels many of the long corridors full of traps seem as if they have been added just to pad the game out.

As this is the second Ubisoft game I have reviewed, I should write a bit about "uplay", their points reward system. Basically what this does is allow you to earn uplay points by carrying out achievements, and then spend those points in that game, or in any other uplay-compatible Ubisoft game (such as Splinter Cell Conviction). Interesting idea, as when the points notification appears you find yourself wondering if you can now afford that other weapon in that whole other universe.

So I think that just about covers it. This is far from a bad game, but it is painfully obvious how little has been added since the prince's last few outings. It has satisfying gameplay, good controls, nice sword combat and interesting puzzles - none of which are new to the franchise though. I can' help feeling like it has been rushed out, and there were a few nasty crashes early on which hopefully won't make it into the final version. If you like the look of it or have always fancied a bit of POP then this is worth playing, but fans of previous games are just getting more of the same. The best thing about games is that they offer so much potential for innovation and that is not what is happening here, so I have marked what is otherwise a great game down for the lack of it.


Skeletal undead enemies: you fight them