Rather than stick with the tried and true, Ubisoft went out on a limb for the latest incarnation of their beloved Prince of Persia franchise, rebuilding the game from the ground up.
Throwing the established series out the window, Ubisoft has delivered a Prince of Persia game with an all-new, all-obnoxious Prince, a new love interest in the form of the mysteriously magical Elika, and a free-roaming, choose your own path style of gameplay that the franchise has never seen before.
Now the game has been released, and Ubisoft has to live with their decisions, just as the assembled game reviewers live with theirs, after the jump.
(The Prince's) antics are almost as destructive to the ambiance as the formerly caged God of Darkness, Ahriman, is to the environment, and his jarring dialogue and delivery persistently overshadow wistful, majestic graphics and his more serious and likeable new female counterpart, who rarely gets a chance to project the character her few monologues attempt to establish. With an oddly small, immobile head atop bulging musculature, the Prince looks awkward in his own skin, and he certainly feels out of place in his own game.
Total Video Games
The idea of having two characters is at least suggestive of a change in design from Ubisoft Montreal. Likely drawing ideas from the unquestionably brilliant pairing of protagonist and accompanist in Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, the Prince and Elika's pairing may not touch upon the genius achieved in Team Ico's masterpieces but it does set up an interesting dynamic as you unravel details about both characters. If even more proof was needed of the influence, than you only need to look at the themes of isolation that intersperse Prince of Persia in a similar manner to the previously mentioned Team Ico classics.
Official Xbox Magazine
There's little surprise or delight when you know exactly what's next in the pipeline at all times - "Oh, you mean there's more wall-running, then fighting, then healing? You don't say!" Granted, when you boil down pretty much any single-player adventure game, it involves a grocery list of responsibilities, tasks, and boss fights. But Prince of Persia lays it all out there for you to see in its fast-travel– capable map. This setup isn't a dealbreaker - traveling between lands is still an intoxicating mix of jumps, grabs, and Elika-assisted co-op leaps across giant chasms - but the structure never feels as organic as the gameplay itself.
It's the environments and boss characters that stand out the most though, with the sights on offer here rivalling the best we've ever seen in a video game. The painting-like visual style gives the game a unique appearance perhaps only comparable to Okami, but it's so much more impressive here. The environments are truly epic in scale - so much so that you'll want to spend time simply taking it all in, especially once the area has been healed and returned to its beautiful natural state.
n every console generation there are one or two games that, regardless of any flaws, hold tight in my memory even years later. I can still picture scenes from Chrono Trigger on the Super Nintendo System as if I just played it the other day. Despite a flurry of great games released in the past year, I still get the itch from time to time to play Jet Set Radio Future on Xbox. Your beloved games may be different, but I'm certain most long-time gamers have a few titles they treasure – the games they can never trade in. Ubisoft's relaunch of Prince of Persia may just be such a game for me from this generation.
While many publishers would have been perfectly content to simply crank out sequel after sequel of a bestselling franchise, Ubisoft instead gambled with a total revamp of the Prince of Persia series, and their gamble paid off in spades. Not only have they maintained the core gameplay of the series, they've managed to improve upon it in a way that might not have been as noticeable had they stayed with the look and feel of games like The Two Thrones. Not only have they crafted a compelling new story for the game, they've created a completely new method for that story to be delivered, giving the player as much control over how the tale unfolds as they do over the Prince himself.
All over the place, just like the Prince himself.