The sands of time might be required to go back and fix some of the issues. by Colin Thames
December 23, 2005 – One of today’s most popular action adventure titles debuts on the PSP. Prince of Persia is really kicking some ass on the next-gen consoles but you’ll probably want to kick your own ass should you foolishly purchase this version for the PSP.
Don’t let the title deceive you, Prince of Persia: Revelations is not a new game. It’s a bastardized port of the second game in the series, Warrior Within. Why the developers didn’t port the new version of The Two Thrones is beyond me. Revelations is a slap dash port of Warrior Within with some new levels that are not all that original or exciting. The entire game is rife with audio bugs, slowdown, inopportune load times, subdued colors and occasional freeze ups.
If your only concern is having a portable version of Prince of Persia then you’re just going to have to overlook the problems and make the best of it. If you’ve already played the Warrior Within, the additions of these new levels is not really worth the expense. You might get a couple of extra hours out of the game but that’s it. There certainly isn’t much in the way of replay value.
What makes this series so popular is the variety of gameplay elements combined with a great story and excellent production. All of these elements are not well represented in the PSP version, especially the production values. The story is well told and is highlighted by a good mixture of puzzles, combat, acrobatics and platforming elements. In this story, the Prince is being stalked by the demon of death. He must awaken the warrior within himself in order to turn the tide on his impending doom.
The prince has incredible skills which allow him to run up walls, scale sheer rock faces, tightrope walk, jump incredible distances and dual wield a pair of swords for some hack-and-slash action – but there are problems that threaten to kill the fun.
The game suffers from a variety of technical issues which seriously interfere with the gameplay. First of all the load times will interrupt the gameplay at some of the most ridiculous times. Maybe you’re in the middle of a fight or in the middle of a jump when a load occurs. All you can do is wait it out and hope the games recalls the last command you made. Keep your finger on the button and hold it there if you can when you encounter such a load. The load times at the beginning of the game can be a half-a-minute long. Once you’re in the game at least you won’t have to wait that long to respawn once you die.
I did experience a few freeze ups and I had to reset the game. This is a common experience among gamers as I’ve found out. There are also clipping issues, slowdown and at times your character might get stuck in walls or at the bottom of a pit after a fall.
While you will be amazed at the graphics there are some fundamental problems with them. When zooming in, the textures become blurry, blocky and fuzzy. It’s easy to mistake some of these aliased pixels for safe ledges and footholds. The overall use of dark colors makes some areas of the game very difficult to see, especially outdoors where the screen gets washed out from sunlight. While I’m at it I might as well mention the audio which skips, sputters, stutters and stops altogether. It may not interfere with the gameplay but it doesn’t inspire much confidence in your purchase. You wouldn’t expect to have pages missing from a magazine, even if they did just contain advertising.
There are some positive aspects to the game that I will discuss later, but let me continue bitching for a while. It’s inexcusable for a handheld game to not have a “save anywhere” function. Portability is the PSP’s greatest asset. But what do you do when you finally get called in to see the dentist and you haven’t reached the water fountain checkpoint?
A good game has a good gimmick. Max Payne has bullet time and Dead to Rights has the brutal disarm/finishing moves. Prince of Persia has the sands of time. This is also the title of the first game and it’s an excellent feature. These magical sands allow you to manipulate time in various ways. For instance you can use them to rewind time so that you can start a task over again. This is great if you missed a jump or took a lethal hit from an enemy you didn’t see. Oddly enough, there is also a form or bullet time that slows all activity around you while you retain your normal speed. All these activities will require sand that will be deducted from your sand inventory. You can replenish it by killing enemies and breaking open various crates and vases.
The action, puzzles and environments are reminiscent of Tomb Raider but a lot less esoteric. There are definitely some head shakers here but virtually all puzzles can be solved without the aid of a walkthrough. There is a lot of exploring and unfortunately a lot of backtracking as well. Huge chambers, long hallways, cliffs, caverns and traps are waiting to be navigated. Since there is only one analog stick the camera angles are relegated to the D-pad. It works great and allows you to scan the environment to search for different ways in and out. There are times when you get so engrossed in solving puzzles that you actually forget about the multitude of bugs – that is until another load rears its ugly head.
When the game runs smooth, it runs smooth. The animations are fluid and very lifelike. The prince is able to pull off various combos with the free-style combat system. It is limited and you’ll find that you will only use a few of the same combos over and over. There is a lot of trial and error but that’s a large part of the gameplay. You have the sands of time on your side to try different methods. The generic heavy rock music is out of place in a location-specific game such as this. I prefer the realistic Middle-Eastern flavored soundtrack of The Two Thrones but considering how broken the audio presentation is I’m sure it would only piss me off more.
If you really need a PoP fix I would suggest renting this game instead of buying it. Aside from unlocking some art and some weird new weapons there’s no replay value here. You really don’t want to have to go through all the old and new levels over again especially with all the backtracking involved. But if you must, brace yourself for some frustrating flaws and try to make the best of it.
- Extend the epic adventure of Prince of Persia Warrior Within” with more than 20 new levels and maps.
- Devise vicious new combos using melee weapons, projectiles, walls, and more with the Free-Form Fighting system.
- Journey through non-linear environments and engage in soul-shattering boss battles.
By Colin Thames
CCC Freelance Writer