As most people are aware, the film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was released recently. The film is based on a series of games by Ubisoft; the first being released back in early 2004 of the same name. Games transferring to films don’t have the best track record, and I’ll leave it for you to decide whether Jerry Bruckheimer succeeded with this attempt.
To coincide with the film’s release, Ubisoft put a new Prince of Persia game on the market called The Forgotten Sands. This story takes place between the Sands of Time game and Warrior Within. The prince travels to his brother’s palace and arrives to see their enemies attacking his kingdom. The prince joins his brother (Malik) in battle, but Malik is convinced that they will lose the war. Using a magical seal, Malik chooses to release Solomon’s army for help- despite much disagreement from the prince. Solomon’s army- who are sand creatures- turn against the prince and cause the rest of the inhabitants of the castle to turn into sand. Luckily, the prince and his brother each possess a half of the magical seal to protect themselves from turning into monsters. You play as the prince, and try to return the sand monster army back to where they came from.
The storyline sounds pretty familiar…it’s like the first Sands of Time game; but instead of himself, it is the prince’s brother who unknowingly unleashes bad sand. It’s an okay plot, but it doesn’t really go anywhere and you can see moments happening a mile off. For instance, Malik suddenly decides he doesn’t want to give his part of the seal to the prince to send the army back, but would much rather have power- which causes him to take on an evil appearance.
Another thing that doesn’t sit right is the fact that the prince is ugly. He looks older than he is in Warrior Within; which is not right considering where the game sits chronologically in the series. He wears a similar outfit to the WW armour but he looks nothing like any of the princes that came before or after him! There are thoughts that he was modelled on Jake Gyllenhaal who plays the prince in the film, but I personally see no resemblance to suggest this was the case.
Graphic wise it’s nothing spectacular. The opening scene is brilliant and gets you excited about things to come, but after that all cut-scenes are in game and unimpressive. One thing I noticed were the sand graphics. A game where sand is the main focus, it’s comforting to see that the sand actually looks like sand!
The maps are average, there is a set path when free running, the camera tells you where to go and death awaits anyone who tries to explore a little. Because of this, the free running is easy-peasy because of the obvious path throughout the landscapes. Despite the small exploring area, the background landscapes of the palace make it seem far bigger. With the change from night to day, and the sandstorms breezing through the desert around the castle the atmosphere is still pretty impressive- despite not being able to wander around it all.
In game, you learn how to control the elements with help from Razia; who is some kind of ancient sorceress with knowledge of the time when Solomon’s army roamed freely. She tells you the story of how the army was trapped in the seal to begin with, and gives you powers that will come in useful on your quest. The prince can now not only control time, but can solidify water, cause a tail of fire and create whirlwinds to destroy his enemies. All these features can be upgraded during the game and you can choose what you want to perfect. Even with all these extra skills, the game is easy. I played it on ‘normal’ and had to check that I hadn’t somehow changed it to easy by mistake during the game! Now, one reason for this might be because I have played all the Prince of Persia games and know how the games tend to function and what controls do what. Another, more likely reason, is because the game was rushed, and is not very good.
Something that made me very happy, though, was to hear the much-needed return of Yuri Lowenthal as the prince (he voiced him in SOT). In Warrior Within, it seemed just plain wrong that Yuri was no longer the prince and instead replaced with a gruff, angry sounding actor. With Yuri’s voice back, Ubisoft are consciously returning to the games’ roots.
It is obvious that this game was released just to make a little extra money from the public. It would also introduce newcomers to the franchise who may have had their curiosity sparked by the film. Even though it has the classic Prince of Persia elements, I was disappointed by the game. Sands of Time will always be my all time favourite game, but lately the series seems to have died. Even though it hurts to say it, I think the Prince needs to rest and be remembered for the original trilogy.