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.

Prince of Persia

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”

Prince of Persia

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.

Prince of Persia

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

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.

Unresponsive Controls

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!

Prince of Persia

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

Prince of Persia

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.

16 Comments

I’ve felt the same way about this new POP. I played for an hour and can’t bring myself to go back to it, and I rented it through GameFly so it’s blocking my way to GOW 2 in my queue. I went back to Fallout 3 to complete side missions rather than go back to orb collecting. Assassin’s Creed was very similar, open world but linear path, and simplified controls, but something about AC’s environments, although brown all over, kept me interested. I would be happy to see the next POP in the Mirror’s Edge engine with some combat.

I would be happy to see the next POP in the Mirror’s Edge engine with some combat.

Yuck, not me! I thought Mirror’s Edge should have been third person and wasn’t a fan of the controls, and definitely not the combat.

I was looking forward to this game. But watching the gameplay vids and reading various reviews quickly cured me of the want.

Hey Matt,

My sentiments exactly on POP. When I saw this tweet I was pretty surprised;

"Prince of Persia is pretty great so far. Nice to hear the voice of Nathan Drake again, but not loving the main character at this point."

as I wasn’t expecting someone who liked Assassins Creed a whole lot to like Prince of Persia. I’m still hooked on AC and those damned flags and coming to play Prince of Persia is like pulling teeth or something a whole lot worse.

The sheer repetitiveness drives me up the wall, the running up walls, along walls, doing long jumps, fighting combo’s there is just *nothing* to get excited about. I played 1hr 30mins in total I think and I honestly doubt I can go back to it.

Luckily I picked up Guitar Hero 3 which I’ve now become addicted to, I’m still playing Bad Company MP (which I’m never putting down) however my Xbox has just started playing up making a really harsh screaming noise then going blank. No red lights yet (touch wood).

But as for POP, it’s being traded in. Any ideas as to what to get? Fallout 3 or Fable II?

Gavin

Playing this game has made me want to jump back into Assassin’s Creed. I lent it to a friend about 8 months ago and haven’t got it back yet. Going to have to get on his case!

I think PoP is best played in small spurts. I sat there for nearly 3 hours the other night and was ready to smack my head off the wall from the repetitive nature of it. I might keep at it – it’s been a couple days since I’ve touched it now, and I’m sort of wanting to pick it up again.

I just sold my copy of Fallout 3 after about 7 hours – it’s just too much of a commitment for me. I did a side quest that lasted nearly 3 hours and didn’t progress the main story one bit. That’s when I knew I was going to be playing the game for weeks on end, and I’m just not into that. Very slow, too.

This game is a weird one, I expected a lot more from the guys over at Ubisoft. When I played the game at the Eurogamer this year I found some interest in it, once the guy at the booth told me that it was using the same engine as Assassin’s Creed I was sold, if Ubisoft could merge the fluidity of AC and build upon the fighting from POP we would be in for a hell of a game just in time for Christmas.

Sadly Prince of Persia hasn’t delivered, most of the time I find myself stringing together the A, B and Y buttons to watch the game do the rest, as beautiful as the game looks on screen it doesn’t feel hands on (like you said).

Another thing that annoys the life out of me is the jumping and navigating, it just doesn’t feel free! You’re not able to jump at all angles and it feels as if I’m moving on a grid when it comes to wall running and jumping.

I do intend to finish it and would like to see how the story pans out, but it’s definitely one of the major disappointments this year along with Banjo and NFS!

You’re not able to jump at all angles and it feels as if I’m moving on a grid when it comes to wall running and jumping.

I noticed that as well. But only when I decided to go off course. If you stick to where you’re supposed to go, everything is set up perfect – which is ironically a huge flaw.

I had the exact same thing but you did better than me. After an hour and a half I returned the game for store credit and went back to playing Fallout, LBP & GOW2.

LOL. I join you and the previous replies 😛

I also was looking forward to this game. It took a while, but eventually I really couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one.

But too bad…. got about the same experience as you described: first 1-2 hours are fun, but right from the start I kinda hoped the fighting would get more difficult as would the platform elements.

But after maybe 2-3 hours I couldn’t do it anymore… I got out of the game and never went back. I sold the game and from that money I bought Fallout 3… and loving it.

Aww, I’m bummed about this as it was one I was looking forward to having a go with, though I may still do just that, as I do have a few friends who enjoyed it (another love/hate game a la Assassin’s Creed?).

Problem being, there’s one way to get there and there might as well be flashing billboards pointing the way

I’m playing Tomb Raider Underworld at the moment, and one of the things I love about it – and TR in general – is how long it can take you to figure out what route you’re meant to take to your desired location. I thought Prince of Persia would be similar in that respect.

Your review paints this as a relatively boring and mediocre game, so I might find myself waiting until it’s discounted. The art direction looks pretty awesome, though.

…though I may still do just that, as I do have a few friends who enjoyed it (another love/hate game a la Assassin’s Creed?).

Could be, I suppose. I haven’t heard anyone raving about it, though. But makes me wonder about the reviews. Maybe it’s one of those games that has an incredible ending that makes you forget about all those other issues along the way?

I’m playing Tomb Raider Underworld at the moment, and one of the things I love about it – and TR in general – is how long it can take you to figure out what route you’re meant to take to your desired location. I thought Prince of Persia would be similar in that respect.

Apparently, they’ve done an even better job of creating multiple paths in Tomb Raider Underworld, which definitely has me excited to play it.

Did you play the older Prince of Persia games? They were more like Tomb Raider, with tons of booby traps and obstacles. Lots of timed jumps and rolls, but all of that is lost in this new game. A fair bit of puzzles, too.

While I was reading your review I couldn’t stop nodding my head and saying, your right there, I completely agree etc etc but at the very same time I loved POP.

Sure you can’t die, sure the bosses are repetitive but something kept me going I really can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it was just nice being in a fantasy world rather than shooting people in the face, maybe it was Elika’s perfectly formed body (: maybe it was the amazing art direction but after 12 hours I got to the end and enjoyed every minute of it.

Having said that I’m pretty sure you could train a monkey to play, and complete POP. Plus the ending was terrible, I mean really terrible. It annoys me when you get that sort of ending from a film that you have invested one and a half hours in but a 12 hour game booooo, as we say in the UK that’s just not cricket.

I know exactly what you mean mate, me and a friend played through recently. The irony is how linear this ‘open-ended’ game seems to be, it seems more of an art piece with some fights thrown in (see The Bouncer for the epitome of that).

Theres no denying thats its a very pretty looking game, but it makes you wonder after the endless drones and battles of the last two that they’ve subtitued most of the substance for the stylish asthetics.

I have the same problems with the game as you do. Mainly, collecting the light orbs in places you have already been several times in order to unlock the other levels , unresponsiveness in combat sequences (especially Elika), the utter lack of any kind of enemies, and fighting the bosses 6 times each. That is just lazy design. The flying power plate sequences were pretty frustrating too at times.

I finally beat the game the other night. The ending was pretty mediocre and certainly did not make up for the rest of the game. The series could get better if they learn from their mistakes, but this installment is kind of weak.

I have to agree with you on everything you’ve commented on. I really liked the last POP series and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this as it had great promises of going back to POP’s roots.

From a geeky web developer poinjt of view I really like it, the controls are dead easy, almost too easy. The visual ques work really well, again almost too easy. The map "looks" nice and the menu system very sexy. But then beyond that it’s very synthetic and artificial. I got to the forth boss and I’m begining to get bored of pressing a, a, a, b, a, a, b, a, a, a, a, b, b.

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