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Reviewed: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: February 16th, 2004
Page: 2

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time doesn't follow the original PoP premise. Instead of being trapped in a dungeon, the Prince is part of a marauding army that steals a maharajah's treasure, then is tricked by their captive wizard into releasing the Sands of Time from a gigantic hourglass. The Prince, holding the Dagger of Time, is immune to the effects and actually can use the Sands, with the Dagger, to slow or reverse the flow of time. Everyone else has turned into mummified zombies, except for a wily princess who alternately wants to help the Prince put things right, or take the Dagger from him.

That's a heck of a premise right there.

Through the levels, you're actually playing a story; the Prince reveals everything in flashbacks and voiceovers, even muttering "No, no, that's not what happened" should you happen to die. Encountering a save point gives the option of seeing a "vision", a sort of clue to one of the next puzzles.

In the puzzles, Ubisoft's taken the Prince's 2D world and fleshed it out; he can run (a limited way) up walls, along them over broken walkways, jump off walls, climb certain objects... in short, he's acrobatic, but almost believably (if he were in perfect condition and had 4% body fat, which he apparently does). Combat is accomplished using the dagger and a Scimitar, and the Prince's dodging abilities come into play more than just swordfighting; he can leap over certain enemies, freeze them in time with the dagger, and when they're knocked down he can absorb the Sands from them into the Dagger, refilling its abilities to pause/slow/reverse time for later use. Charging the dagger enough times also unlocks new abilities, which are usually used later either for facing down a boss or solving a puzzle - but they're not telegraphed that way, and it's not certain that the new ability is something you must IMMEDIATELY use, a welcome change from some games where an ability is used to defeat a boss but is never useful again after that.

Favorite trap items -- crumbling floors, spike pits, jutting spikes that must be tiptoed over -- are all back, and more things that only work in a 3D world like whirling blades, too. They're all sweetly done, and integrate well into timing-based puzzles. 

Oh, yeah, almost forgot. He can refill his health bar by drinking water. It's really that simple, and sometimes necessary after completing a trapped area or a boss fight.

Graphically, the game's good -- almost perfect. On the PC, in high resolution, is where it's best; the Xbox comes second, then Gamecube, then PS2. Unfortunately, the Xbox version doesn't have widescreen or 720P abilities, which would have made it the premiere place to play the game.

Musically and sound-wise it's gorgeous, and on Xbox it does take advantage of 5.1 sound... utterly sweet in that regard. It's not something that can be explained, it just has to be heard and enjoyed. There aren't even enough repetetive sounds to get annoying, and the inclusion of Persian-inspired riffs from the earlier games is a nice treat.

The camera is limitably controlled by the right thumbstick, or you can switch into first-person/panoramic modes for a look around, but for the most part it's not really necessary; the camera knows reasonably well how to stay far enough away to give a good player the clues they need.

Also, as an added bonus, the original two games are unlockable secrets. How's that for some extra fun?

Bottom line: Buy. This. Game.

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Added:  Monday, February 16, 2004
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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