Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Giant Bomb|Wikipedia) was released in 2003 for several platforms – I own and played the Xbox version, but it is also available on Gamecube and PS2.

The story starts out in the past, with you playing the role of the prince. His father, the king, is conquering an Indian city and enlists the help of a shady Vizier to take the city by surprise. I’ll be honest, the story seems a little elaborate and didn’t draw me in at all. While the direction of the story is a bit lacking, presentation was done very well. You have flash backs and flash forwards at certain points and the cut scenes never overstay their welcome.

Basic gameplay has you doing a lot of platforming and some melee combat. The combat is… acceptable. It doesn’t feel particularly deep, but it’s competent enough to make the game a little more interesting. Platforming is the bread and butter of this game. You can do a ton of traversal maneuvers and the rooms are puzzle like in nature, forcing you to use all of them. The camera has a first person and wide landscape mode that you can switch to on the fly, which is great, but it’s still hard to accurately judge some jumps which leads to more trial and error than it should. Thankfully the major mechanic in this game helps a lot in mitigating it – it is reversing time. Let’s say you made a bad jump and fell to your death – if you have some sand left in your dagger, you can pull the left trigger and reverse time to a desired point and try again. This is a cool idea that is executed perfectly – it makes the game stand out and not devolve into just another action platformer. Despite it’s age (almost 13 years old at the time of this writing) it feels like mechanically it could be a new release.

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Sound is good but not great – nothing that’ll blow you away but nothing terrible either. I did notice in my setup that the voice over audio was frequently way, way too low to make out and there wasn’t an option for subtitles that I saw. Graphics are very nice, especially for an Xbox release. They did something right with the engine, because there is tons of AA and not a single jagged line did I see in my time with the game.

Verdict: Play again! This holds up amazingly well and looks great on Xbox. Well worth a revisit.

Images courtesy of Giant Bomb

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