Prince of Persia 2
Prince of Persia 2 The Sands of Time ranks among the great action-adventure games of this generation. Despite the critical acclaim, Ubisoft decided to tinker with the formula in hopes of attracting a wider audience with Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. The result is a much darker Prince, who speaks in a gravelly voice, travels through a rather grim labyrinth of saw blades and spiked floors, and is solely concerned with saving his own butt, no matter who he has to take down in order to do so. In the process, Ubisoft Montreal re-invented the combat system, added a few new traps, lengthened the gameplay experience, and threw in a number of bosses. So, with all of these improvements, how is it that Warrior Within isn’t as good as The Sands of Time?
A Warrior’s Tale
Warrior Within takes place several years after the events of The Sands of Time. The Prince, having originally released the Sands, is being hunted by the Dahaka, a guardian of the timeline. The Dahaka is a foul, unstoppable beast that will pursue the Prince until he is dead. Desperate and weary from the years of running, the Prince makes a final play, heading to the Island of Time. The hope is that if the Prince can somehow go into the past, he can stop the Empress before she ever creates the Sands of Time, meaning he would never have opened them and the Dahaka would have no cause for its hunt.
The premise certainly sounds good and the story of Warrior Within has more complexity than the simpler fable of The Sands of Time. Ubisoft chose to use this story to darken the Prince, draping him in a morose take-crap-from-no-one attitude, changing voice actors to provide the Prince with an edgy Clint Eastwood snarl, and giving him such novel lines as, “You bitch!” No, this is not Sands of Time, this is the new Prince of Persia and the idea of a dark character, dark atmosphere, and dark story are forced down your throat from start to finish. It’s too much, too forced, and frankly, not as appealing as the Prince of old. From a thematic perspective, it’s a step backwards, even though the gameplay remains excellent.
In Ubisoft’s decision to make a bad-ass, no-nonsense Prince gamer’s could better identify with, they instead made the Prince more generic than before. It’s the Arbanian theme, the whimsical feel and luscious bloom lighting of The Sands of Time that helped it stand out among other action games. And though the gameplay mechanics remain unique to the world of the Prince, the character seems like a quick selection from video game Central Casting.
There is no Farah in this adventure, no white dove that shows some light in the darkness. There is nothing to contrast the gloom seen throughout Warrior Within. The Prince is not out to save the world, he’s out to save himself at the cost of anyone who gets in his way. This isn’t even a tale of revenge. It’s easier to empathize with the Prince from The Sands of Time, because he’s likeable, and he’s at least trying to do the right thing. The only character in peril this time is the Prince. He’s not a hero this time out, he’s just a guy trying to save his own ass.
Though the dark look and feel of Warrior Within were off-putting at first, once I got past those elements, I fell in love with POP all over again. Warrior Within is quite an enjoyable gameplay experience. With many of last year’s complaints addressed, it would be tough for any Prince fan not to enjoy the sequel, just don’t expect to love it as much as the first.
The Prince of Persia’s Excellent Adventure
As with The Sands of Time, Warrior Within sets you in a confined environment (this time an island), throws enemies in your path, and has you perform acrobatic feats that would seem to defy gravity. Once more you will run along walls, swing off bars and fly through the air like a trapeze artist. Though the essence of POPremains, the game’s structure is a little different.
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