This week, we managed to get a first play with the soon-to-be-rereleased The Sands of Time trilogy. For those who missed it or are too young to remember, back in 2003, Sands of Time wowed us with its combination of visually stunning acrobatics and imaginative level design. The trilogy follows the exploits of the prince in his interactions with the sands of time, a mystical force he is tricked into releasing in the first game that controls the flow of time. The sequels Warrior Within and The Two Thrones followed suit in 2004 and 2005, creating the milestone trilogy so fondly remembered today.
The game is set to be rereleased on the PlayStation 3 this week, allowing you to play through the prince's journey again. This time, there will be the added bonus of HD graphics and an optional 3D mode for those lucky enough to own a 3D television. As with the God of War Collection, another recent HD remake, the original assets have been scaled up to HD resolutions, so while the texture detail isn't as rich as in the most recent Prince of Persia (The Forgotten Sands), the games look much sharper than they did back on the PlayStation 2.
Hardcore fans of the trilogy will be pleased to hear that the preview version we played presented a faithful port of the original games. The prince's glib remarks still manage to entertain, and the platforming that made the series is still as challenging and rewarding as ever. The game's HD upgrade has also worked well. While it's still obvious that you're playing an older game, the quality of the HD graphics lets you appreciate the fluidity of animation and quality of textures; details that could have been missed when playing the game at standard definition on an older console.
As you would expect, the game's graphics improve in chronological order, with Sands of Time looking the most dated. The only problem that arose during our time playing the demo occurred when using the 3D mode on the first Sands of Time game, which at points could suffer from a diminished frame rate. On Warrior Within and Two Thrones, this problem did not arise, and the 3D mode worked well. Unfortunately, the 3D mode is only available when the game is being run on a 3D television, so get your wallet ready for a hefty payout if you haven't already done so.
The gameplay has remained untouched from the original games, which unfortunately means that the original annoyances of each game have also returned. This includes the repetitive combat in Sands of Time and the tiresome bad attitude the prince adopts in Warrior Within. Despite this, the positive aspects of each game far outweigh the bad, with the addition of gaming trophies offering new challenges, including the nigh-on impossible Game Master trophy, which requires you to complete Sands of Time using only 20 sand rewinds.
If first impressions are anything to go by, the upcoming HD rerelease will be a welcome upgrade to a much-loved trilogy. With the addition of high-definition visuals and the chance to earn trophies, the Classic HD Prince of Persia package offers a real incentive for gamers to revisit or discover the trilogy. It will be released exclusively on the PlayStation 3 on November 19 in the UK.