Approaching the holiday season, I couldn’t have been more excited to get my hands on the new Prince of Persia title. One of our family rules prevented me from doing so until after Christmas, though. The one that states that we aren’t permitted to rent or buy anything that is on our own Christmas wish list – and with Prince of Persia being one of my top 3 games, I had to refrain from basking in the glory of a promising new tale in a beautiful new world. The post release reviews didn’t help one bit, as most were raving about the new direction the Prince has taken. When I finally did get my hands on it, I really enjoyed the first hour or 2 of gameplay. Unfortunately, it’s to the point now where a trip to the dentist sounds like more fun.
Here are the main points that really aren’t sitting well with me at this point, and I only fear will only get worse…
Story is “Too Fantasy”
There’s certainly nothing wrong with my imagination, and I can handle a good fictional story. But I’m finding Prince of Persia a bit too heavy on the fantastical end. It’s not so much the plot itself, but certain action sequences that happen in the game from time to time. My daughter walked in at one point and asked, “Why are you flying on her back?” and I really had no good answer for her aside from, “Because I pushed ‘Y’ on that glowing yellow switch.” There are certain sound effects that play when triggered by magic which make me cringe each and every time as well.
Open World Has Very Few Paths
When you enter a new area, there’s a destination you must reach. Problem being, there’s one way to get there and there might as well be flashing billboards pointing the way. What’s the point of creating an open world game if there’s really no exploration involved? You go where the game tells you, once you’ve chosen the general direction.
Collecting Items is a Cop Out
Once you’ve reached a destination and completed a task, “light seeds” are strewn through the land which you just traversed. So now you get to do it all over again, in reverse, all the while collecting glowing orbs. Tedious.
Acrobatics Are Too Easy and Unsatisfying
Think back to Assassin’s Creed. At first, I was bummed that all it took to make Altair run up a wall, grab a ledge, and hop over was a single press of the ‘A’ button. But once I became known as a notorious assassin, I was thankful that’s all it took, as dodging civilians, avoiding guards, and timing jumps across roof top gaps was more than enough to keep my attention.
Prince of Persia has adopted the same philosophy, except there’s no immediate threat… ever. String together a combo of acrobatic maneuvers is a matter of timed single button pushes. To make matters worse, the game is very forgiving when it comes to when you actually push the buttons. I found that I could hit ‘B’ as I was approaching a ring, or right on top of it, and the result would be the same. If it’s going to be dead simple, there should at least be some aspect of challenge in the form of accurate timing.
Fighting is Too Easy and Unsatisfying
Like the acrobatics, combat is super dumbed down. Big dramatic combos are pulled off with no effort and timing isn’t a factor. You basically trigger an action by pressing the right button, then sit back and watch the Prince unleash hell with his sword. Personally, I’m a more hands on kind of guy and this sort of thing completely removes me from the experience.
Considering how basic the controls are and combos to execute, I was pretty surprised to see my character just standing there with his hands at his side while I was holding the block button down on my controller. When things speed up, I found the controls lagging behind. As boss fights become increasingly more difficult, you’ll be blocking for the most part, and popping up from behind your sword for a quick second in hopes of landing an attack. Often enough, I would release block, invoke an attack or combo, then return to block stance or try another attack. More and more, I found I was too fast for the Prince and he would end up just standing there, or take a hit that should have been blocked. Maybe his sword is to heavy?
Only 4 Bosses, Who You Fight 6 Times Each
There are 4 main areas on the map, each with a unique boss. Within each area, there are several sub-areas that you traverse. Once you reach the destination of each sub-area, you fight one of the 4 bosses. Again, and again, and again, and… you get the point. 6 times, you will face each boss. The same battle, the same heckling one-liners, the same strategy, over and over. Not fun! I’m really not sure how thought this was a good idea. After the third consecutive battle with the same annoying boss, I had enough. Tedious!
Only 1 Enemy Per Area
Where’s the cannon fodder? Where are the endless drones to slaughter, time and time again? Of each area you’ll enter, aside from the boss, you’ll encounter a single enemy. If you get to them before they fully spawn, all it takes is a single swipe of your sword and they disappear into the wind. Otherwise, a short battle which usually ends in you throwing them off the edge of a platform ensues. At best, you’re looking at a 10-15 second fight.
You Can’t Die
Seriously. If you miss a jump, Elika (your magical sidekick girly) will reach down and place you safely back on the last platform you stood on. If you’re about to die in battle, Elika shoots some magic at the enemy to knock them back, preventing them from making that final strike. When there’s no penalty for dying, I don’t care. I leap before I look. I guard half as much as I probably should in battle. I just don’t care as I know there’s nothing to re-do, no points loss, no ability loss, nothing. The only time you’re actually penalized for dying is during a boss fight, where the boss will regain some health if you reach that critical point. But thanks to ridiculously easy quick time events, it’s very hard to actually reach that point.
Should I Even Bother?
The Prince and I, we haven’t exactly had the best relationship. Should I make this 0 for 4? Is it worth sticking with it for the story/ending? Aside from Elika and the odd interesting exchange between the 2 main characters, there isn’t much I actually care about.