Prince of Persia Updated Hands-On

We run around in the desert, rattle our sabre, and take the prince's superpowers for a spin in this updated hands-on.

It has been only a month since our last look at the new Prince of Persia game, but a lot has changed in that time. Our last chance to see it was during the Tokyo Game Show, where we were given a glimpse at the very beginning of the game. This time around, we had a bit more time to explore the world at our own pace on a more complete build of the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Our last preview covered the haphazard introduction of mystery woman Elika while your character, the prince, is out looking for his gold-laden donkey. Your paths cross, and the two of you become best chums after you protect her from a group of attackers that you later realize were guards sent by her father, the king. You break into a prison that houses Ahriman, the god of darkness, with the goal of making things right, and during an ensuing battle with the king, he spitefully frees the deity. With Elika in tow, you get the heck out of dodge before the rapidly crumbling prison becomes your tomb. The escape itself is a challenge, and you'll need to muster all of your wall-running and gap-jumping skills to make it out as chunks of floor disappear beneath your feet.

It's a slippery slope from here on in.

Once outside, you'll be able to explore the world as you see fit. Our preview code only allowed us to venture into the Lava Rift region of the game, but we've been told that you'll be able to have at it and pick your own path. Hitting the back button on the controller brings up a top-down map of the various zones, and by selecting one of the available areas with the cursor, you can set a waypoint that Elika will help direct you to once you close the map. The indicator is available at any point during the game--including while hanging off of environmental obstacles--and lights the way with a floating magical aura. It's not unlike Dead Space's floor marker, and given that the game's play areas are quite large and at times look very similar, it's a welcome hint to stop you from walking around in circles.

Once we had our waypoint set, we went scampering through the desert towards the City of Light. To clear a gap inside a particular cave, you'll need to use the assisted long jump, a move that Elika uses to propel you forwards after you hit the Y button in the middle of your jump arc. Inside, you'll be presented with walls ripe for scaling and the slippery slopes you'll jump between on your way to the first battle. Make no mistake about it: If you don't like jumping games, Prince of Persia definitely isn't for you. But if your idea of a good time is hanging from poles or wedging your character's fingers into tiny gaps on monstrous cavern walls, then you'll want to read on.

Once you arrive at the city, you'll get your first taste of combat. POP forgoes waves of enemies in favour of a more intimate one-on-one approach to battle. There's no targeting or lock-on mechanic to mess around with, and though you're free to manipulate the camera using the right analog stick, you'll never take your eyes off of your adversary. X is your all-purpose sword attack, B is your grab and throw, and the A button kicks off an aerial attack with a jump. The right trigger provides you with your block stance, but also gives you a chance to counterattack if pressed as your opponent attempts to land a blow on you. The Y button is used to unleash Elika's magical attacks, but their need to be performed in close proximity to the target adds a combo dynamic that you can weave into your attack rotations as you're working them with the blade. It's also worth mentioning that this isn't a button basher at heart. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities to do it, and it'll work, but you'll just wear yourself out when calculated, deliberate button presses will do the trick more efficiently.

You can't hack and slash your way through everything. Some enemies require a little more thought to take down.

You'll be able to cut up grunt-level corrupted rivals with a few slices and dices of your sword, but once you come across the warrior enemy, you'll need to adapt your approach drastically. Considering that they take no damage from either magic or physical attacks, you'll need to use the environment of the arena you're in to even things up. Ring-out tactics can be extremely effective, and you can turn the tables quickly by either knocking them backwards with a series of quick jabs or baiting them and then rolling through their legs to deliver a finishing blow from behind. You'll face the warrior on more than one occasion, and each time the experience is slightly different. When you can't knock him over a ledge, you'll need to change things up by backing him into a corner and damaging him with debris from falling stone pylons.

Corrupted enemies often guard "fertile ground" spots that Elika can use to restore life to the immediate surroundings, which is done by repeatedly tapping the Y button when standing in the right spot. Once an area has been successfully restored, you're able to begin collecting light seeds, the game's currency for unlocking princely abilities. Our build included two upgrades, the Hand and the Breath of Ormazd. Once you return to the temple to unlock them, you'll be able to make small teleport moves and run vertically up walls with wanton disregard for gravity when presented with the appropriately coloured wall pad. Although Hand of Ormazd is a set animated path that you'll follow once it's triggered, Breath requires more user interaction, and you'll need to avoid running through corruption goo as you go or you'll be killed and returned to the closest stable platform on which you began your run.

Death itself is an interesting concept in POP because you'll never see a game-over screen, no matter how many times you fail at a task. Every time you misjudge a jump, fall short, or get too friendly with an enemy, Elika's guiding hand will pull you to safety or blast your foes with energy long enough for you to stagger out of harm's way. There's no micromanagement to the experience, so you'll never run out of lives, saves, or energy. There is a slight penalty when fighting enemies that take damage, given that dying will restore their health bar back to full, but in our experience so far, boss battles haven't shared the same fate.

Prince of Persia will be spelunking its way onto the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3 in early December. Stay tuned to GameSpot for our upcoming full review.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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115 comments
Kerushii
Kerushii

aha.... my right finger still twitches whenever i fall off a ledge in any game... gonna miss that w/ this... but looks like you get out of falling off cliffs anyways anyways, hope it's as good as the previous ones, playing my way through two thrones right now =]

awarapanmovie
awarapanmovie

i dont want to say anything before its release the previous ones are great hope this will also great game but i m not sure about Cartoonist Graphics wch is use in this game

maazbazmi
maazbazmi

coolio damn this game looks gd

zxc345
zxc345

i cant wait for this game

Petruvai
Petruvai

This game seems like it could be really fun. I haven't played a Prince of Persia game before, but this may be the first one that I get.

hotbodyboy_2006
hotbodyboy_2006

I hope the new game is as good as old ones. I don't know. Sometimes this prince of persia makes me feel that the SOT Trilogy Series is one of the Greatest Games Ever Made. I hope it changes my mind when its released. And where the F*** did a GoW fan come in here. Get lost man.

IndianaRolf
IndianaRolf

And I still miss from GoW the free camera, the wall running, the 'go back in time' feature. Well, to be fair, GoW had some sick combos, some gigantic bosses, the minigames that are nice, and all the technical stuff that it is famous for.

IndianaRolf
IndianaRolf

I think GoW owes too much to PoP. They´re both great games, but Prince came out first, and then Kratos did much of the same things, just a little bit different, at some points. But this two games are conected, and there's no denial that Sands of Time was one of the greatest games on Ps2. It was far fresher when it came out than GoW. Everything is a copy, of a copy, of a copy.

IndianaRolf
IndianaRolf

I think GoW owes too much to PoP. They´re both great games, but Prince came out first, and then Kratos did much of the same things, just a little bit different, at some points. But this two games are conected, and there's no denial that Sands of Time was one of the greatest games on Ps2. It was far fresher when it came out than GoW.

parwizg
parwizg

god of war is better than pop

DeanSMASH
DeanSMASH

"Sands Of Time" was the best game by far and that's because of the art style, story and the themes of the game. "Warrior Within" was the product of Ubisoft trying to bring in a more "mature" audience, "Two Thrones" was a mistake and just a desperate attempt to rake as much money out of the franchise as possible. I may be wrong but I think the developers have seen their faults and are trying to correct it. "Sands Of Time" was far from childish but it wasn't exactly M Rated, the game seemed to sit just nicely and had an appeal to all audiences. This new game seems to be a true sequel to the first game to me, it holds everything the original had and I hopefully more.

Zion34
Zion34

IS this game going to be easier than the previous entries of the prince of persia games?

dareough
dareough

this looks sick the prince has been rocking since the sands of time

dutch777
dutch777

this does look like it shall be the best!!!

da_illest101
da_illest101

I love the prince of persia serie, although i'm sure the gameplay is gonna be fun as usual i still think that they should have went with a more realistic type of graphic like the previous ones

JLytle92
JLytle92

looks like a great addition to this awesome holiday lineup.

hotbodyboy_2006
hotbodyboy_2006

I don't care about the game over screens. Infact i hate it especially on the PC. It takes time to load. This will be a fresh game with not much loading time i believe.

shaane
shaane

cant wait, loved sands of time and warrior withinbut two thrones not that much

senjutsu
senjutsu

@Cabose12: It's not exactly like that. You die, but it's not telling you that you did. I mean, when you die, the ennemies have their HP full again, so it's like being dead and respawn to the last checkpoint (the same screen). And for the not guying when you fall, it's like having the sands of time. And it's gonna be less frustrating when you miss something 3-4 times in a row, lol. The only thing I'm with you is for the the boss. I mean, if the boss looses HP even if you die, you CANNOT lose to a boss... BUT I suppose that for bosses, you'll surely kill it in 3-5 hits, like in prince of persia 3, where you needed to hit the bosses using special moves. This way, it's not important. BUT I really hope they'll also put a "hard" mode that doesn't give you that much things. Like, let's say, bosses that kills you and regain all HP full :D, and when you would die against ennemies/bosse/fall, you would get a penalty of something. Like, let's say, make a trophy/acheivement where you need to die less than 3 times in the entire game at hard or something like that. Or simply, you looses something, I don't know if you have a magic bar to use the girl or something, but this could be set to zero after your dead, etc. Anyway, I'll buy the game, I always loved PoP games. :D

Cabose12
Cabose12

sooo, dying doesn't kill you? That's stupid, i'm sure alot of you also caught "There is a slight penalty when fighting enemies that take damage, given that dying will restore their health bar back to full, but in our experience so far, boss battles haven't shared the same fate." If i'm reading that right, and give me thumbs down if i'm not, but doesn't a normal fight sound harder than a boss fight? Normal enemies, it's like a normal battle, if i die damn i gotta try again, but Bosses, wtf? "Here we go slash him there roll there and, O i died, no big deal." The boss shouldn't keep his life when you die! That's the point of a GAME OVER SCREEN, IT'S OVER YOU LOSE TRY AGAIN

Spark0
Spark0

Just wanted to remind you all that there is someone left who can type in English.

tmac3456
tmac3456

CAN'T waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiit i love POP that whole series on xbox was sick even back in the 2D days i loved it

splendormk7
splendormk7

coolest advanture is about to begin.(after Altair's) this game has to be so cool. it does not have any right to be bad. it isn't possible anyway.. ubisoft works on their games precisely. and we are freaking lucky cuz, we'll play this amazing game on HD systems. "prince of persia deserves to be played"

ALTAIR360
ALTAIR360

cant wait for this game :D this and geow2 will keep me sweet till RE5! :D

subzero2010
subzero2010

In my Dream is a play that game ( i love it so much) :)

sumukh3
sumukh3

i've heard tat tis game is non linear....though the graphix is unrealistic,its interestin in its own way...waitin eagerly for tis,,,,jus hopin i'll keep up the PRINCE OF PERSIA name high...

SUPERMANJOSEPH
SUPERMANJOSEPH

ive bought my xbox 360 literally the other day. i definatley want to get this game , its gunna be a lot of fun, i can actually picture me playing this during xmas lool

Fady117
Fady117

I bet it's a lot better than The Two Thrones....

Iqen
Iqen

Looks ..simply put... Brilliant!!

bfrudkin
bfrudkin

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

hotbodyboy_2006
hotbodyboy_2006

Probably the first game that most people will try this Christmas.

morbid_man_guy
morbid_man_guy

i like the new direction of the art style with this game, should be refreshing after the 3 sands of time games

yichun4
yichun4

I am proly gonna get this

Footos_mints
Footos_mints

Hmmm i feel warrior within gave the free combat a better feel to it, and you know the enemys were also the same size as the prince. Not twice the build, twice the hieght, i mean wtf really? Lol This game should be worth the play no matter what =]

74141976
74141976

me and my shawty has beaten the last three games on the xbox we will be getting this for the 360

_MEDUSA_
_MEDUSA_

Looks awesome! Always a fan, Havent played any on a console yet tho, But can't wait to get this!

hotbodyboy_2006
hotbodyboy_2006

"Oh please Two Thrones is not as good as Warrior Within. But that's for me. I can't stop 1000 others who put Two Thrones and NOT Warrior Within in their Top 10 most Adored PS2 games. But on the PC version, Warrior Within is the Best." Okay ultimately, its not a Question of which game is better. The main thing that we all fans or Non-fans also WANT from this game is that it should be BETTER than the previous games and it will be, take it from Me!!

darfvader
darfvader

"the style is excellent but i think it would be even more amazing if they made the whole world as stylish as the characters. compared to the meticulously built characters the environments look kind of bland, but everyone knows screen shots don't do games justice" AGREED

en4o
en4o

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Yeley718
Yeley718

this cartoon art/ real art looks really really cool when mixed together

joel_chtri
joel_chtri

played POP:T2T n loved it, WW was boring, SOT was not bad. hope this b better than T2T

xBLACK-MAGEx
xBLACK-MAGEx

the style is excellent but i think it would be even more amazing if they made the whole world as stylish as the characters. compared to the meticulously built characters the environments look kind of bland, but everyone knows screen shots don't do games justice.

blueblur87
blueblur87

I want this game. It is about gameplay not graphics so I am not too bothered about the cell-shading or whatever it is. Game developers should not be restricted into thinking they have to spend millions on graphics, although its nice to have. I want to see more classic 2d and 3d platformers where graphics are second to gameplay. Sonic needs to go down this route.