|System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Casablanca||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 18, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
As the release date for this new Prince of Persia title grew nearer, I couldn't help but to get excited about another outing with the Prince and Elika. Imagine my surprise when I found out that this game inexplicably wouldn't have anything to do with that title. Well, perhaps since it was coming out so close to the Prince of Persia film's release it would just be a game based upon that experience. Nope, that was strike two. Instead, this is a title that throws players back into the Sands of Time universe for one last (hopefully) hurrah.
While I may have been somewhat unhappy with the decision to go back to the Prince's classic trilogy instead of siding with the fairly well done newer Prince of Persia, as a fan of the series there are really only two things that I need from a Prince of Persia game to derive enjoyment from it. My two requirements are great platforming gameplay and solid controls that will enable me to appreciate it. Having not played the console versions of Price of Persia: The Forgotten Sands yet, I can't say whether or not those versions managed to live up to these standards. However, I can definitely relay to you that the DS version almost completely fails on both accounts, as well in several others, making it barely worth the time necessary to slip the cartridge into the system for fans of the series.
The game starts out with the Prince involved in some sort of ritual that winds up giving him amnesia. With no idea who he is or who he should trust, he runs into a spirit who continually gives him bits of information about his identity and some sort of purpose, so he decides to go along for the ride. Following the spirit's lead, the Prince must make his way through a plethora of levels in order to regain his power, memories, and to save a kingdom from evil. After the introductory cinema, the majority of this game's storyline is delivered throughout without the aid of voice over or cinematics, conveyed only through pictures of the characters and text blocks.
Honestly, though, the storyline and the way it is presented isn't all that important as long as the game is fun to play. Unfortunately, it becomes apparent from the outset of this incredibly short adventure that the gameplay wouldn't be able to salvage the experience. To begin with, The Forgotten Sands plays almost entirely like the last Prince of Persia title on the DS. This means using the stylus, and only the stylus, to complete the game. While we've seen other DS games use this method of control to great success, like the Legend of Zelda titles, it remains an awkward fit for the Prince's outing.
Dragging the stylus on the screen will encourage the Prince to run in that indicated direction. This includes running up walls, running on walls, jumping over pits, climbing up poles, etc. But instead of feeling like you're in direct control of the Prince, it just feels as though you're dangling a carrot in front of him that he desperately wants to catch up to. Throughout the earlier levels in the game, where there are very few hazards or difficult platforming challenges, this method of control seems to work out well enough. However, when you combine the ease of these early levels and the disconnected feeling of the controls, much of the beginning of this game feels like it is playing itself rather than relying on you to lead the way.
Of course, if the Prince wanted to catch up with your stylus carrot as badly as he seems to, you'd think he'd follow its directions much more carefully than he does. Once you've snoozed your way through the relatively challenge-free opening levels of the game, issues with the stylus controls become painfully apparent. When trying to perform successive wall jumps in order to climb or get away from hazards, you'll frequently find the Prince misinterpreting, or simply just ignoring, your commands. This can become especially frustrating once you start running into the surfeit of one-hit-kill hazards such as the moving saw blades that litter almost every inch of this game.