|System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Quebec||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: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
March 1, 2010 - As Hollywood gears up for the summer blockbuster Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ben Kingsley, Ubisoft readies its prized franchise for next-gen consoles and Wii. While the powerhouse systems are sure to see another exciting outing featuring the Prince, Nintendo fans are in for a special treat of their own.
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands for Wii picks up the Prince's story sometime after the events of The Sands of Time (for last-generation consoles). With the series leaving a seven-year-long gap of untold mystery between Sands of Time and Warrior Within, there is ample opportunity for Ubisoft to expand on the Prince's adventures. The Wii version will tell a unique tale outside the scope of what's being offered on the other two systems.
Ubisoft Quebec City is handling the development of The Forgotten Sands for Wii, and as of right now, they're not saying much about the game's actual plot. They did, however, reveal quite a few nuggets related to gameplay, along with some hands-off demoing of the game, at Nintendo's recent media summit.
From what we could glean, players will be using both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to control the Prince. The Forgotten Sands incorporates only a few new mechanics and keeps things relatively simple in terms of what the player needs to learn, but there's a surprising amount of freedom when it comes to navigation.
In last generation's The Sands of Time, the Prince used a magical dagger to freeze time, and the mechanic was, of course, integral to many elements of the gameplay. The Prince is without his dagger this time around, but new sand powers, as well as a female genie companion, make up the driving force behind The Forgotten Sands.
The first and perhaps most impressive power the Prince will acquire along his journey is the ability to create rings of sand to act as handholds on walls and such. This ability gives the player the opportunity to tread their own path, so to speak, as well as negotiate areas that might otherwise seem impassable. The sand-ring ability is executed by pointing at an object and pressing the B button, and it can also be used to freeze enemies.
The sand rings play nicely into the second power, which is the ability to conjure sand pillars. By pointing at the ground and pressing B, you can erect a pillar of sand and then create sand rings to propel yourself upward. Sand pillars too can be used against enemies, casting the spell at their location to have them blasted into the air.
Finally, the Prince will gain the ability to encase himself within a translucent sand sphere, which will often be his saving grace when missing jumps or being surrounded by enemies. In midair, this power will suspend the Prince, giving the player time to rethink their approach - maybe create another sand pillar and handhold to keep from falling to their doom.
Though you can only use one of the three sand powers at a time, the abilities can be combined to make for some truly clever gameplay. There are other cool features as well that promise to make The Forgotten Sands a more challenging game without going overboard with the level of difficulty.
Should you meet an untimely end, you'll be able to restart from your current location using a life gauge the Prince can refill along the way. Once that meter runs out, however, the player will be sent back to their last hard save point. There isn't going to be a lot of handholding in the game, but there are a few sensible additions that should help to keep frustration out of the equation. Pressing up on the D-pad makes a guide line appear that shows you whether or not a particular jump is feasible, as well as offering other clues about where you'll need to go next.
Our only real concern with the game thus far has to do with the combat. The developers have opted to implement a motion-controlled fighting system into The Forgotten Sands for Wii, and we remain skeptical of just how well that's going to turn out. In order to use your sword, you'll swing the Wii Remote and gesture with the Nunchuk to punch. No word yet on whether or not an option to use the Wii MotionPlus will be available, but in light of Ubisoft's use of the accessory with the Wii version of James Cameron's Avatar, we're not terribly excited about that prospect either.
Nevertheless, there's still a lot Wii owners have to look forward to with The Forgotten Sands, not least of all some truly lovely visuals. The framerate is reported to be running at a steady 60 frames per second, and though the level of detail and intensity will, predictably, be muted when compared to Xbox 360 and PS3, the art style for the Wii version is quite impressive. Additionally, a bit of co-op play and the SNES version of Prince of Persia are bonuses exclusive to the Wii version of The Forgotten Sands.
On paper, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands sounds like it will be a lot of fun, and the demonstration by Ubisoft at the recent Nintendo Media Summit left us feeling hopeful. That being said, the pedigree of the developer (TMNT DS, My Stop Smoking Coach with Allen Carr) gives us some slight pause. Hearing "built from the ground up for Wii" doesn't quite carry with it the same promise it once did, but we remain cautiously optimistic.
CCC Freelance Writer