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by Ethos

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Review – Honor and Glory

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Ha! Didn’t see THIS one coming, did you? I know the game’s 7 years old or so, but hey; it’s a classic, and in spite of all appearances, this IS Prince of Persia week. And, unlike Ethos, I actually managed to finish the game this week. In fact, I sat down yesterday and beat it all in one sitting. Because I’m awesome. Anyway. Um. I should probably get to the review. Though, I admit, I’m actually enjoying this little italicized intro a bit too much. I fucking miss you guys! I haven’t talked to you all week! How’s it going? Good? Good. How’s it going for me? Ah… well. Let’s just, uh. Get to the review.

LIKED:

-Unparalleled platforming mechanics

-Flawless level design

-Brilliantly constructed storybook-esque, Persian atmosphere

-Subtle, sweet, and engaging storyline

DISLIKED:

-Shallow, repetitive combat

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and its two sequels, are by far the best action-adventure games of the previous generation. Apologies to Kratos, Link, Dante, and plenty of other action heroes with quality games, but Prince of Persia takes the proverbial cake. It began with 2003’s Sands of Time; and while Sands of Time is (unfortunately) plagued by a rather shallow combat system, its unparalleled level design, platforming mechanics, and atmosphere set it apart as not just one of the best action-adventures ever made – but one of the best videogames, period.

Story

I hope that everyone’s at least somewhat familiar with the story behind the Sands of Time trilogy. When it comes to time-travelling epics, it’s probably the best thing the world’s seen since Back to the Future. (And I don’t say that lightly, because I fucking love Back to the Future.) The Sands of Time is only the tip of the iceberg, but it’s still one hell of a ride. A young, unnamed Prince gets his hands on the Dagger of Time; a magical weapon with the power to (you guessed it) control time – soon afterwards, a traitorous vizier tricks him into using said dagger to unleash the destructive Sands of Time. Everyone turns into monsters, buildings crumble, sand flies everywhere – basically, everything turns to shit, and it’s all the fault of our Prince. So, with the help of the gorgeous Farah – the only other survivor of the sands – our unnamed protagonist sets out to make things right.

The storyline in Sands of Time isn’t that deep, and the game isn’t laden with cutscenes or dialog. But, really, the subtlety of it is what makes it so beautiful. I’ve written about the romance between the Prince and Farah before – remember Romance Week? They scored the #4 spot on my Love Story Hits countdown, and for good reason. There’s something universally charming about the two of them and their constant back-and-forth banter that gradually leads to their falling in love. Oh yeah, and the dialog is endlessly entertaining and well-written.

Gameplay

After all of these years, The Sands of Time still has the most brilliantly conceived platforming mechanics ever seen in a videogame. There are two basic reasons for this: the Prince is one of the most versatile and acrobatic characters ever seen, and the level design is, in a word, flawless. Every seamless environment is designed to allow for the Prince’s unique methods of transportation – wall-running, death-defying jumps, pole-swinging – the list could go on. But, while they may be contrived in such a way, they don’t look like they are – they look almost entirely organic. There really isn’t a single other game in the world where it’s such a joy to simply move.

Unfortunately, the Sands of Time is plagued with a shallow, repetitive combat system. Combat was drastically improved in the two latter entries of the trilogy, but it’s still pretty lame in Sands of Time. The Prince has a single-button combo attack, the ability to vault over enemies, and the ability to freeze enemies in place. It all looks freaking badass, but it’s somewhat boring to actually play. Not awful, not broken… just kinda boring.

Graphics

Upon its release in 2003, Sands of Time looked gorgeous. Character models were lacking even for their time, but the beautifully inspired Persian storybook aesthetic was a literal joy to behold. And, believe it or not, it still is. Sure, it looks last-gen, and it’s pretty damn jaggy on a 42″ HDTV. But it’s the artistic vision behind Sands of Time that really defines the visual experience. Think Lawrence of Arabia, or Disney’s Aladdin. The Sands of Time presents a seamless world where it’s easy to lose yourself.

Sound

Just to round out the near-perfection, Sands of Time has very competent voicework (especially for its time) and a top-notch musical score. In fact, it’s such a good musical score, you’ll wish it appeared more often than just during combat sequences. Yuri Lowenthal has always been one of the favorites in the business, and his role as the titular Prince will always remain my favorite of his.

Final Thoughts

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is, simply, timeless. It’s a game that will always be recalled with the same fondness as, say, Indiana Jones, or to cite a more similar example, Back to the Future. Sitting down and playing through the game again yesterday was the most fun I’ve had in a long, long time. If you haven’t experienced this masterpiece for yourself, I can’t recommend it strongly enough. It’s one of the definitive interactive experiences.

Fuck this week

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Seriously. Fuck this week.

Tingle! Tingle! Kooloo-Limpah! #007 (Hangover Edition)

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Screw All Y’all

Riddles can go fuck himself. I’ve got a wedding to go to tomorrow, and a lot more Prince of Persia to play. I’ll write you all on Sunday.

Tomorrow is the day

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Turns out Baileys is delicious. Riddles is a loser, but I’m still going to run through the trilogy. Tomorrow I put in a solid chunk. As for now? I’m tipsy and am going to watch some shows I missed with Pogo. Then I’m going to sleep and wish my girlfriend didn’t live in a different province! Just a few more months, Ethos! Then me and my same-city romantic bliss can laugh in Riddles’ face even more!

Scatter Storming. Issue #029

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Hey fellas! I half-apologize for the lack of original content in last week’s Scatter Storming. Only half because that cover was fucking sweet. Also, Star Fox 64 quotes are fucking sweet. I didn’t even get to half of the great ones. Anyhoo, now that I’m not broke anymore, I’ve been buying games like a mad man. Probably not the best idea in the universe, but whatever, it’s good to be back in it! Let’s talk about some of these games, shall we?

Shatter Storming -
I slay myself. After Colin Moriarty from Podcast Beyond pimped the hell out of this game, I decided to download it. It’s a brick breaker game but with the necessary twists. Your paddle can blow or suck (that’s what she said), which affects the trajectory of not only the ball but also power-ups and the bricks in play. Your remaining lives can be used however you like as well. Meaning if you have 3 lives remaining, you can shoot between 1 and 3 balls out into play. It makes for a very interesting take on the genre, and I had a blast playing through it. I’m mediocre at best at the game, but it’s obvious that score whores could play this game for hours on end. For me, I’m glad I bought it, but I can’t imagine I’ll be playing it much after this.

MOAR LUNAR -
After Patapon 2 took over my PSP, it took a little bit of work to get back into Lunar. Mostly because I’m still playing Plants Vs Zombies all the time. Still, it’s back to being the primary game on my little Go. It’s losing a bit of steam, but I’m still enjoying the writing, visuals, and music quite a bit. We’ll see how it holds up if I get around to any more heavy play sessions.

Star Ocean? -
Yeah, I borrowed it from my brother for the PS3. MAN am I ever glad that it has the original Japanese voice track. I don’t want to know how that stuff would have sounded in English. Sometimes there is no translation for culture. Anyway, the battle system seems interesting, but the field controls seem clunky. Well, at least while in a tight space. I’ll give it a fair shake, but at the time being, it’ll have to do a lot to bump it up from “generic” to “I’ll be able to beat the thing”. I’ll probably just end up waiting until my next Tales of fix for that sort of mediocre anime JRPG fix.

Gimme gimme

But in awesome RPG news… -
MAN, that Pirates RPG looks great! It sounded awesome on paper when it was first announced ages ago, but now that the impressions are rolling in, I’m truly excited. This is how licensed games should be done. Give the team the freedom to make the kind of game they want to make, and give them the time to make it! Although it’s probably bad that I’m expecting Heartless to make an appearance.

Prince of Persia Update -
But this is really what you’re all waiting for! The update to the competition that I am going to TROUNCE Riddles in. Yes, I’ve only completed 25% of Sands of Time so far, but that completion percentage is a little misleading. My week is busiest at the beginning. Although I have a wedding to attend on Saturday, I can dedicate the rest of the time to blasting through the trilogy. Even if Riddles has a…erm…first wind, I’ll still knock ‘im dead. Either way, I’ll be giving impressions of my return to Sands of Time and of the other two games I haven’t had a chance to play before this.

Well that’s all! I appreciate you all still reading this site even after Riddles continuously abandons it! I know I don’t have magazine words on this cover, but I liked the Star Fox one so much, and this picture is a little classy, I decided to keep it this way again. The cluttered awesomeness will return, have no fear!

Oh god

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

A picture of me.

See, I’ve played a bunch of Sands of Time, and pre-wrote my Scatter Storming for tonight to make sure it would go up. Riddles? He promised me a HLL on the phone and then proceeded to not even issue a “delayed” or “cancelled” notice on the site. Yes, he has a new job, but I’ve worked 28 hours these past three days, and I’ve managed to post on the site, start the PoP challenge, and prepare adequately for my Scatter Storming tonight so all I have to do is go home and photoshop the cover. (Expect it around midnight EST).

At least I’m not so worried about the PoP challenge anymore! I’m not slowing down though.

…Where’s Riddles?

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

I’ll admit, his silence is scaring me. I want to give an update of my progress, but with my two busiest days of work looming I’m scared that my modest progress will encourage Riddles to kick my ass. Has he already beat Sands of Time? Has he not started? Are we neck in neck?! ARGH!

It’s On!

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Watch out, Princey boy

Welcome to Prince of Persia Week everybody. In preparation for the unexpected “The Forgotten Sands” game on May 18, and the actually-looks-pretty-cool Sands of Time movie on May 28, Riddles and I have decided to make this Sands of Time Week. Why this week? Well, frankly, we’re not sure how good the game is going to be, and Mario Galaxy 2 and Alan Wake deserve their own week more than a semi-tie-in. Also, why would we give a movie its own week? Everything makes more sense this way.

Of course, Oliver will be silly enough to buy The Forgotten Sands on day 1 and he’ll have impressions of the title, but this week is all about the race to the finish. Yes, Riddles and I are both going to attempt to playthrough the entire Sands of Time trilogy. Riddles has an innate advantage because he’s BEATEN Warrior Within and The Two Thrones, and he also doesn’t work 10 hour days on Tuesday and Wednesday, but whatever. I can be competitive. So place your bets and look forward to updates and IMpressions from Riddles and I throughout the week! Play along if you’d like! I’m popping in Sands of Time tonight! I’m quite excited as it’s one of my favourite games of last generation. No foolin’.

I Found This On the Internet

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Yeah.