Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Prince of Persia - Gameplay

Prince of Persia is a series reboot that Ubisoft released for a variety of platforms, including the 360. The previous games were much beloved, and I'd like to think this move was an apology by Ubisoft for the wretched release that was Assassin's Creed. For a full review of that monumental failure, check Jeff's Achievement Box here.

Playing Prince of Persia, I feel like Ubisoft could have made the perfect game if they had just combined it and Assassin's Creed into one uber-game. Whereas AC saddled their platforming masterpiece with a bunch of tedious busywork and design flaws, POP is all about scrambling through richly detailed environments. That includes climbing walls, hopping from pillar to pillar, leaping across chasms, and a number of other acrobatic moves. While there's certainly a learning curve, a little practice is all it takes to get the Prince scaling impossible surfaces with seeming ease.

I can't play a third-person platformer without commenting on the camera, and in the case of POP that means doling out some well deserved praise. The camera in this game is fantastic, easy to position and almost always pointed right where I need it. A sure sign of a great camera is that I've barely even thought about it while playing.

Another mechanic that works really well in POP is your companion Elika, the magical "do-over" machine. Any time you make a mistake and send the Prince on a flailing plunge to Jagged Rock City, Elika uses her magic to transport you back to the most recent solid ground you were inhabiting. It's the same effect as if you were saving the game after every series of jumps, but without the tedium of actually doing so. I really like the way Elika works in the game, because it encourages you to explore the environment without the punishment of a Game Over if you're wrong. Hmm...that column is pretty far away. Can I make the jump? Whoops, it looks like I can't...good thing Elika is here to save me!

The only area where I think Ubisoft needs more improvement is in combat. POP doesn't feature nearly as much combat as AC (thank God), but there's still a fair bit of it. They've replaced the frequent battles against waves of soldiers with occasional battles against boss monsters. The issue is that these are repeated quite a bit and they become pretty tedious over time. Again, Elika saves you before you can ever die, so it's mostly a matter of pattern recognition and attrition. By the time you fight the same boss for a fifth time, you'll probably feel just about done with the experience.

I'm a little over halfway done with POP, but so far I'd recommend it to anyone who likes well-designed platformers.

1 comment:

  1. I realize you might hesitate to link people over to sgwordy since Ubisoft and AC have me firmly in their "isn't she a lovely tool" tool box but I recently had some comments to make regarding PoP myself, any thoughts on those?