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The Patient Gamer: The Prince of Persia (2008) - The Black Sheep

GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,415
837
136
I recently completed The Prince of Persia (2008), the second (third?) reboot of the PoP franchise after the original games and the "Sands of Time" trilogy. Its somewhat tragic that this reboot might be lost... to the sands of time... given its general unpopularity among the PoP fandom. However, as the first PoP game I've played since the now ancient original the game really pulled me in.

As far as the technicals, the game is old and ran well but not as great as I would have hoped on my laptop's GTX 1050. There was definitely some slowdown during scenes with a lot of particle effects, but never during actual gameplay so it was forgivable.

The game is a ground up platformer built on the original Assassin's Creed engine, but does away with all of the assassin-y stuff and fully embraces the parkour movement system in an "open" world. You play as "The Prince" who is really more of a rogue in this iteration who stumbles across a forgotten kingdom in the desert, built to keep a great evil contained. The Prince encounters Elika, the princess of this kingdom, and great evil is unleashed. Hijinks ensue as Elika and The Prince work together to contain the evil and sort out the mystery behind the abandoned kingdom.

The Prince of Persia made a couple controversial decisions that i actually found myself really getting behind:

The fact that the plot and story almost exclusively unfold through The Prince and Elika's dialogue with each other gives the game a sort of cozy, intimate atmosphere that reinforces all the other positive aspects of the game.

I really appreciated the game's dedication to being a platformer. The game is all about moving through the world, solving puzzles, and very occasionally fighting off a minion in a one on one parry based combat system or one of the four named boss characters. The game world is divided between a hub and four spokes, with each spoke leading a a beautifully designed and unique land that itself is broken into 4 nodes that must be healed and a "boss" node that can be accessed once

You "never die" since any time you miss a jump or don't time something properly and fall, Elika catches you and brings you back to the last flat surface you were on. Its essentially a very liberal checkpoint/save scum system that the game does for you, without all the hassle of loading times or taking you out of the game. I personally found this system actually freed me up to relax and enjoy the game instead of focusing on how long since my last save or just putting the controller down since it was too long since the last checkpoint or something. I personally wish more games would adopt this system.

The Combat: There just isn't that much, and its just as well. The combat is the pretty standard Parry - Reposte stuff that we're all used to, but the game didn't feel like it really needed it. So while the combat isn't great, there isn't much of it, and there might as well have been none.

The Graphics: In my opinion the graphics and most notably the art direction are spectacular. The game uses a sort of water color/cel shading effect to give everything a slightly painted look, and the style holds up extremely well over time. The art and architecture is also heavily influenced by a strong Persian/Arabic style (which you might expect) which really lends to a beautiful and unique setting you just don't get in many games. At the time the art style was panned as "cartoony", but really it lends a more timeless quality from my perspective.

The game's controls do leave a little to be desired, as there is much "contextual" animation going on a la Assassin's Creed and as a result there is a significant gap between inputs and the character actually performing an action. To compensate, Ubi really kept the timing of button presses extremely loose which was ultimately a good decision but can leave the player wondering if their inputs are actually having any impact on the game. You really only notice pressing buttons does something when you screw up, otherwise the feeling is almost too fluid/cinematic/natural.

Additionally, I disliked that you had to press a button to engage in critical plot centered dialogue with Elika. It breaks up the flow of the game and a single conversation could have you pushing the trigger button five or six times just so progress the conversation by a few lines. I understand it would have been a little silly to have the main characters bantering while parkouring over the countryside, but a single button press should have unspooled all the contextual dialogue in one go. As such, I imagine many people that originally played the game likely missed out on a decent amount of story and character building that is delivered almost exclusively through these contextual button presses.

I feel a little sad that this game will likely never receive a sequel. Ubi didn't even bother porting over the DLC from the consoles to the PC version. It is full of charm and character that the more angst ridden Sands trilogy seemed to have lacked, and laid a very solid foundation on which to build a new series. The main theme song is on repeat in my head.

Also, it predates the Ubisoft launcher.

If you want a fun, relaxing 15 hour game that has some color and charm and personality and isn't the same cloned drab ultra serious jingoistic ultraviolent crap so much stuff is now days, do yourself a favor and pick it up for $5.
 
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Mamere782

Member
Oct 10, 2017
50
5
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I recently completed The Prince of Persia (2008), the second (third?) reboot of the PoP franchise after the original games and the "Sands of Time" trilogy. Its somewhat tragic that this reboot might be lost... to the sands of time... given its general unpopularity among the PoP fandom. However, as the first PoP game I've played since the now ancient original the game really pulled me in.

As far as the technicals, the game is old and ran well but not as great as I would have hoped on my laptop's GTX 1050. There was definitely some slowdown during scenes with a lot of particle effects, but never during actual gameplay so it was forgivable.

The game is a ground up platformer built on the original Assassin's Creed engine, but does away with all of the assassin-y stuff and fully embraces the parkour movement system in an "open" world. You play as "The Prince" who is really more of a rogue in this iteration who stumbles across a forgotten kingdom in the desert, built to keep a great evil contained. The Prince encounters Elika, the princess of this kingdom, and great evil is unleashed. Hijinks ensue as Elika and The Prince work together to contain the evil and sort out the mystery behind the abandoned kingdom.

The Prince of Persia made a couple controversial decisions that i actually found myself really getting behind:

The fact that the plot and story almost exclusively unfold through The Prince and Elika's dialogue with each other gives the game a sort of cozy, intimate atmosphere that reinforces all the other positive aspects of the game.

I really appreciated the game's dedication to being a platformer. The game is all about moving through the world, solving puzzles, and very occasionally fighting off a minion in a one on one parry based combat system or one of the four named boss characters. The game world is divided between a hub and four spokes, with each spoke leading a a beautifully designed and unique land that itself is broken into 4 nodes that must be healed and a "boss" node that can be accessed once

You "never die" since any time you miss a jump or don't time something properly and fall, Elika catches you and brings you back to the last flat surface you were on. Its essentially a very liberal checkpoint/save scum system that the game does for you, without all the hassle of loading times or taking you out of the game. I personally found this system actually freed me up to relax and enjoy the game instead of focusing on how long since my last save or just putting the controller down since it was too long since the last checkpoint or something. I personally wish more games would adopt this system.

The Combat: There just isn't that much, and its just as well. The combat is the pretty standard Parry - Reposte stuff that we're all used to, but the game didn't feel like it really needed it. So while the combat isn't great, there isn't much of it, and there might as well have been none.

The Graphics: In my opinion the graphics and most notably the art direction are spectacular. The game uses a sort of water color/cel shading effect to give everything a slightly painted look, and the style holds up extremely well over time. The art and architecture is also heavily influenced by a strong Persian/Arabic style (which you might expect) which really lends to a beautiful and unique setting you just don't get in many games. At the time the art style was panned as "cartoony", but really it lends a more timeless quality from my perspective.

The game's controls do leave a little to be desired, as there is much "contextual" animation going on a la Assassin's Creed and as a result there is a significant gap between inputs and the character actually performing an action. To compensate, Ubi really kept the timing of button presses extremely loose which was ultimately a good decision but can leave the player wondering if their inputs are actually having any impact on the game. You really only notice pressing buttons does something when you screw up, otherwise the feeling is almost too fluid/cinematic/natural.

Additionally, I disliked that you had to press a button to engage in critical plot centered dialogue with Elika. It breaks up the flow of the game and a single conversation could have you pushing the trigger button five or six times just so progress the conversation by a few lines. I understand it would have been a little silly to have the main characters bantering while parkouring over the countryside, but a single button press should have unspooled all the contextual dialogue in one go. As such, I imagine many people that originally played the game likely missed out on a decent amount of story and character building that is delivered almost exclusively through these contextual button presses.

I feel a little sad that this game will likely never receive a sequel. Ubi didn't even bother porting over the DLC from the consoles to the PC version. It is full of charm and character that the more angst ridden Sands trilogy seemed to have lacked, and laid a very solid foundation on which to build a new series. The main theme song is on repeat in my head.

Also, it predates the Ubisoft launcher.

If you want a fun, relaxing 15 hour game that has some color and charm and personality and isn't the same cloned drab ultra serious jingoistic ultraviolent crap so much stuff is now days, do yourself a favor and pick it up for $5.
Loved Sands of Time...still have CD/DVD Plaued a couple years ago on Win 7
 

GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,415
837
136
Loved Sands of Time...still have CD/DVD Plaued a couple years ago on Win 7
-I've personally never played SoT, but I recall all the meme's about the rewind time mechanic. Looks like Ubi will likely go back to that iteration of PoP since they released "The Fallen Sands" after the 2008 remake which returns to the SoT trilogy.

Its a shame, the reboot had some interesting story/concepts/themes and drew from Zoroastrian myth to build its world, which was refreshing.

Curiously, I learned the entire AssCreed series grew out of the PoP series as initially a side project, then finally a full fledged independent series.
 

ArenCordial

Senior member
Sep 18, 2012
203
13
81
Having play all the more modern PoP's I'd rate them like this.

Best Story and Charm: Sands of Time
Best Combat: Warrior Within
Most Interesting Art Direction: PoP 2008
Best Platforming: Forgotten Sands
Best Mix: Two Thrones

For me Sands of Time was the best and most original of the bunch. It was a lovely experience when it launched. The 2008 reboot didn't manage to engage me anywhere near the level of the Sands games. The best thing about it was they made a honest effort to provide a new experience and an interesting art direction. The combat was an afterthought, the platforming I didn't find very challenging. Elika autosaving you everytime prevented load screens but removed any sense of suspense you might have had towards the platforming. Its somewhat understandable that the game didn't resonant that strongly with a lot of PoP fans after the SoT trilogy. Selling the epilogue as DLC did them absolutely no favors and not porting it certain platforms iirc compounded this.
 

GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,415
837
136
Having play all the more modern PoP's I'd rate them like this.

Best Story and Charm: Sands of Time
Best Combat: Warrior Within
Most Interesting Art Direction: PoP 2008
Best Platforming: Forgotten Sands
Best Mix: Two Thrones

For me Sands of Time was the best and most original of the bunch. It was a lovely experience when it launched. The 2008 reboot didn't manage to engage me anywhere near the level of the Sands games. The best thing about it was they made a honest effort to provide a new experience and an interesting art direction. The combat was an afterthought, the platforming I didn't find very challenging. Elika autosaving you everytime prevented load screens but removed any sense of suspense you might have had towards the platforming. Its somewhat understandable that the game didn't resonant that strongly with a lot of PoP fans after the SoT trilogy. Selling the epilogue as DLC did them absolutely no favors and not porting it certain platforms iirc compounded this.
-This kind of hits on the whole concept of first impressions. If Sands Of Time is on the PC I'd be interested in trying it out, but given I've played 08 first, I wonder if I'll walk away with the same impression of the game.

I tend to look back more fondly on the game that introduced me to a series, even if I actually don't enjoy it as much when I go back and play it.

That being said, SoT (and the subsequent games in the trilogy) receives such near universal acclaim that I figure it's worth checking out.
 

JujuFish

Lifer
Feb 3, 2005
10,116
259
136
-This kind of hits on the whole concept of first impressions. If Sands Of Time is on the PC I'd be interested in trying it out, but given I've played 08 first, I wonder if I'll walk away with the same impression of the game.



It is. I got the Steam version at least a decade ago, and originally played it on disc back in the XP days.

I'll note, however, that Ubisoft might be doing a remake/remaster after a listing showed up on some retailer or other. If there is any validity to that rumor, we'll likely find out in the next Ubisoft Forward event on the 10th.
 

ArenCordial

Senior member
Sep 18, 2012
203
13
81
It is. I got the Steam version at least a decade ago, and originally played it on disc back in the XP days.

I'll note, however, that Ubisoft might be doing a remake/remaster after a listing showed up on some retailer or other. If there is any validity to that rumor, we'll likely find out in the next Ubisoft Forward event on the 10th.
I originally didn't believe this, but then I saw Scherier confirmed it. Granted he didn't say it was a Sands remake, it could be a side scroller for all we know but I'm honestly excited. I figured after Assassin's Creed got popular they were done with PoP since they still have to pay the original creator royalties. I'm actually looking forward.....to Forward. Thanks!
 

ArenCordial

Senior member
Sep 18, 2012
203
13
81
Nice PS3 graphics there. Clearly they handed the remake to some no name studio on a low budget. When it sells like garbage they can say "see no one's interesting in Prince of Persia anymore, stop bugging us about it. Oh well check out our next yearly installment of Assassin's Creed."

The franchise deserved better.
 

GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,415
837
136
Welp, that looks like hot garbage.
- Wow yeah that looks like a quality remaster or overhaul mod, not a remake.

Wouldn't be surprised if the team just brought over the source code of the base game and just painted by numbers over it.

Sometimes it's best to put something on the shelf and say: that's it, we hit a high note and we're wrapping up this story line and moving on. Like the Mass Effect trilogy, I really hope EA leaves their mits off of that one and looks to clean up Andromeda with a sequel rather than retreading old ground over and over.

It's a shame Ubi is disinterested in pursuing the reboot. I suspect a lot of people would warm up to it if given the chance.
 

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