Can all of the Prince’s agility help him on the PSP?
Time travel has always been a concept that most of us, at least once in our lives, have wanted to achieve. Unfortunately, time travel is not possible now. Even if it was, we have been taught very valuable lessons in the etiquette of time travel. In fact, the 80s film industry was riddled with countless time traveling movies that, more often than not, showed that the ramifications of stepping back, or forward, in time are detrimental. Truly, there is no character that feels the unbridled pains of tampering with time more than the Prince of Persia. Since the release of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, we have watched the Prince battle with the decisions he made to save a kingdom and travel through time. Now, we have another tale wrapping around the inner turmoil felt by the Prince titled Prince of Persia: Rival Swords for the PSP.
Rival Swords follows the second ending of the Warrior Within. The Prince has killed Dahaka and has saved Kaileena, the Empress of Time, thus altering her fate as well as his. Traveling back to his home of Babylon, (no comma) with Kaileena aboard a boat, the Prince tosses his magical medallion overboard, believing he would not need it anymore, boy was he wrong. After just telling Kaileena that no harm will come to her while in Babylon, the Prince finds his home engulfed in flames. The boat is then attacked, throwing the two into the water. Naturally, the two wash ashore in different locations. When the Prince comes to, he can only watch as Kaileena is taken prisoner. Now, the Prince must fight his way through the burning city of Babylon.
Sound familiar, it should if you have played Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. The story of Rival Swords is identical to The Two Thrones. Even the gameplay is predominately identical. Which brings up the question – Why? Why mislead the potential buyer of a game that is a ported game with a different title? Simply put, the title is meant for those who have never experienced the series before. It is also for the fans of the series that need a fix of the Prince’s acrobatic agility while on the go. That is probably the most important thing for the new player to the franchise. If you have never played with the Prince, you are in for one kinetic gravity-defying romp through the city of Babylon. Getting from point A to point B in other games is simple. In the Prince’s world, nothing is ever simple. In fact, you will have to learn to master every ability the Prince has in order to just survive the environment, let alone the enemies you will encounter.
This is what some would call frustrating in other titles, but, to fans of the series, this is what makes these titles the most enjoyable time they have had in a game where the environments betray you constantly. Therefore, if you fall from a cliff or into the bleak darkness below – that is it – your life is done, unless, of course, you have the Sands of Time in your control and plenty of sand in the tank. With the sands, you can eventually rewind, fast forward, and slow down time. All become extremely useful in these titles.
Combat also plays as much of a role as the acrobatics. The Prince has a wide arsenal at his disposal for defeating his enemies. Granted, several of the moves require the use of the aforementioned acrobatics, but who can complain about leaping off a wall to dive into a pack of enemies with blades shining? Disappointingly, the combat is a draw back in the game, continuously fluxing with the same repetitious movements over and over. Adding to the mix of combat are the speed kills, where you can sneak up behind your enemy and, if done correctly, send you enemy into an eternal slumber. Just like Two Thrones, at a certain point in the game, the Sands of Time affects the Prince drastically. The change presents a “new” playable character for us to play as – the Dark Prince, fittingly. The Dark Prince retains several of the Prince’s moves but has his own style to them. He also uses a “Daggertail”, which is a chain whip that strikes enemies down quicker, and a little more effectively, than just the sword of the Prince. However, instead of being able to play as the Dark Prince whenever you want, it will happen only at certain points in the game, and his health meter will gradually decrease. The health meter can only be charged up by defeating enemies. So you will have to move fast, annihilating everything in your path, just to reach the end of the Dark Prince’s segment.
There is one thing that has been added to the PSP version – the chariot races on the main menu. There are four different races to compete in. Ramming into other chariots, utilizing jumps to either clear distances or change position on the “track”, and fighting off sand enemies that leap onto your chariot, are the basic gist of what to expect in the races. While in Two Thrones there was a level that we were able to play, the PSP includes the little mini-game right from the start. It is a nice little break away from the serious storyline, but can become equally frustrating until you have mastered the courses.
The graphics and sounds of the game, unfortunately, did not port as well as they should have. The graphics, though, are nothing harsh to look at, but presenting the game in a less than admirable fashion compared to the graphics of the console version not a highlight of the game. One point to make, the blood is gone. Instead of the Mature rated, blood-spewing, we are toned down with the enemies spouting sand. This is not a downside to the game, since it will most likely find its way into the hands of more players, nevertheless a point that needed to be made. The score of the game is almost on par with the original version; however, it is the sound effects that distract you from the beauty of the score.
Regrettably, Rival Swords offers nothing to players that have already experienced Two Thrones. Aside the fact that this is a handheld version, there really is no reason to even pick this up unless you like your Prince to go. Then again, if you are the sort that prefers handhelds to consoles, this is definitely a must have. Just prepare yourself for a lesson in the pains of time travel.