I would assume that I’m in the minority when I say that I really enjoyed Ubisoft’s 2008 re-imagining of the Prince of Persia franchise. I had never played the previous games, but really enjoyed that one, regardless of the fact that it is considered way too easy with no consequence for failure to many. Given the fact that I enjoyed that iteration of the game – more for the platforming and character bonding aspects than the battles or anything else – I was highly motivated to check out the new title in the series, The Forgotten Sands, at Ubisoft’s PAX East booth. What did I see there that has me so excited?
While it is likely all the aspects they showed in their demo session have already been known by the general public, it was astonishing to see them in action on a big screen at their booth. What was showed off made me want to play the game even more. Returning, of course, are the platforming aspects of the previous titles, however there are many other elements involved this time around. You can rewind and slow down time, most notably. I’m not sure if this is focused on throughout the game or not, but the area they showed off and the area they let us get some hands-on time in is filled with various puzzles involving water. You slow down time so the water is more tangible, thus allowing our hero to grab onto it, climb it, swing from it and what not. What they showed off was very cool-looking, but one question remains: Wouldn’t a somewhat solidified water be, you know, ice-like? And, wouldn’t ice be awfully slick, perhaps too slick to climb vertically or keep firm grasp of for long periods of time? Perhaps not, it was just a random thought that traversed the cobwebs in my head while I was watching and playing these demos.
As far as the water is concerned, it works also like somewhat of a guidance system, as the Ubisoft rep that was demoing the game said to just follow the water and you’ll eventually get to where you need to go to advance the story. Many of the puzzles had to deal with timing things just right to slow down time, hop from water spout to water spout and land on a solid surface before time ran out, as you can only spend so long in slow motion mode.
I think it is pretty safe to say that the combat in Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is greatly improved from the almost nonchalantly deployed antics of the previous incarnation. It is much deeper and more chaotic, if I do say so myself. The introduction of elemental powers is one such improvement. For example, you can use the power of earth to create a rock shield around yourself to reduce damage for a time. In another situation, you can use the power of wind to create a huge tornado that sweeps your enemies away in a huge area-of-effect attack. And those are only two of the powers you’ll obtain throughout the course of the game.
I enjoyed my brief hands-on time with the game and am actually rather anxious to get my hands on it. The versions that were shown off and playable were the Xbox 360/PS3/PC version of the title. The Wii version is slightly different in visual appeal and gameplay, which is to be expected. Look for Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands to be available in North America on May 18, 2010, a scant month and a half from now.
Ubisoft, if you’re reading this, send us a copy!