TGS 2008: Prince of Persia Hands-On

We take control of the new prince on the block to see how he handles running along walls, fending off armed foes, and dealing with mysterious women.

TOKYO--Since the trailer for Ubisoft's new Prince of Persia game debuted earlier this year, we've had numerous opportunities to get a load of the game's eye-catching new visual design. We've watched the prince and his beautiful companion, Elika, daringly traverse ruined cities and craggy canyons, but it wasn't until earlier today at the 2008 Tokyo Game Show that we were able get our hands on the game. Playing through the prologue level, we were gradually introduced to the prince's move set, and we were soon traversing vertical surfaces and vanquishing enemies with ease. The control system feels much more streamlined and flowing than in his previous outings, and makes for some smooth platforming and engaging, rhythmic combat.

The game opens with the prince wandering aimlessly through a sandy desert, shouting the name "Farah" into the winds. Though this game stands apart from the previous entries in the series, you may recognize Farah as the name of the prince's female companion throughout the past three Prince of Persia games (no broken promises here, though--you'll later find out Farah is actually the prince's treasure-laden donkey). Near-blinded by a sandstorm, the prince slides into a crevasse and the platforming adventure begins. Any sort of jumping is handled with the press of a single button, whether it be a leap across a gap or a scramble up a wall. To cross larger gaps, the prince can once again run along an adjacent vertical surface. Where in past games you had to pull a trigger to activate this ability, now you simply press jump to begin your run, and jump again to leap out of it.

After navigating the canyon for a bit, the prince is abruptly introduced to his future companion, Elika, when she flies off of a high ledge and lands on top of him--quite an introduction! Before the prince can catch his breath, she's leapt to her feet to confront the men who were pursuing her. Not one to let such an opportunity pass, the prince gallantly comes to her defense and engages her would-be captors in combat. Sword attacks are all handled by one button, in keeping with the simplified control scheme. As we battled our way through this and a number of subsequent fights, we found that multiple presses of the sword button result in combo attacks, and working in the jump button incorporates more acrobatic assault moves.

The combos were not particularly lengthy, and it took a few of them to off the relatively weak guards, but we didn't mind because they were so fluidly animated. As we continued through the level, we learned how to use the prince's gauntlet. It's handy for sliding down sheer wall faces as well as grabbing a hold of persistent enemies. Between the sword, jump, and gauntlet buttons, we had a pretty good move set going and delighted in finding new ways to string these elements together as we continued to engage the persistent guards that so adamantly wanted to stop Elika from escaping.

Elika's beauty and mysterious situation seemed like reason enough for the roguish prince to want to follow her, but his interest is further piqued when she saves him from a collapsing bridge with a magical flourish. The slow blossoming of her magical abilities will happen over the course of the game, we're told, and her journey will mirror the prince's own transition from self-centered treasure hunter to not so reluctant hero. The two will undertake an epic journey that all players will experience, but players who take the time to talk to Elika in different situations by pulling a trigger button will find that she has a wealth of helpful advice, personal anecdotes, and sassy jibes to share with the prince. This is part of Ubisoft's efforts to make Prince of Persia feel more like a cooperative experience than a single-player adventure.

After exiting the canyon and traversing a large, open plain, the prince and Elika gain entry to an ancient temple buttressed by the roots of a massive tree. In the heart of the temple is a glowing white tree, but before we can investigate further, a new challenger appears! It's the muscled, dreadlocked chieftain, whose guards have been dogging our every move. Turns out, he's Elika's father, and he's very adamantly trying to stop her flight. He engages the prince in a particularly tough fight, and we found ourselves having to incorporate blocks and dodges to stay alive. Pulling one of the trigger buttons blocks, and flicking the analog stick while blocking will make the prince roll to the side. Since the prince only ever fights one enemy at a time, there are no lock-on issues to trifle with, so all your energies can be focused on dodging blows and unleashing combos on your enemy. When Elika's father is near defeat, desperation overwhelms him and he takes a mighty swing at the glowing tree in the center of the room. Of course, no good can come from chopping down mystical trees, and we watched with increasing trepidation as black waves of energy flowed from the stump. Enter the corruption--the poison that spreads throughout the land fouling everything it touches, including Elika's father. Transformed by the seething darkness, he enters the fray anew and this time appears almost immune to the prince's attacks. Fortunately, Elika decides to lend a magical helping hand, and we can now call her to attack with the push of a button. Now more powerful than ever, the prince actually stands a chance to defeat his defiled foe and escape the rapidly crumbling temple.

The prevailing impression we were left with at the end of our session was one of smoothness. Even when we were bringing sword, jump, gauntlet, and Elika attacks to bear in rapid succession against the prince's enemies, it was a simple matter of pressing the four face buttons with good timing to execute fluid, high-flying combos. Having these buttons mapped to the same abilities throughout both the combat and platforming sections was a natural fit, and one we're looking forward to exploring more before December 2, when the game hits retail shelves for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Check out our exclusive trailer linked above, and be sure to check back soon to see video highlights from our gameplay experience and hear the in-depth commentary from senior producer Ben Mattes.

Written By

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.

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Discussion

104 comments
fatmike2127
fatmike2127

god i really hope the graphics aren't so cartoon like cuz all the images i've seen look like that, i think that could make the game a little worse

ResiFreak
ResiFreak

I wonder why Elika's father would want to capture her?? Hmmmm.... I'll have to see for myself, when I get this game!

Downloadpilot
Downloadpilot

Hmm... What is the story behind this game (other than Farah, the donkey). I wonder what's going on with Elika? I so want this game :D

vmfstorm1
vmfstorm1

by cell shading do you mean they basically just added a black outline to characters? because this is the most realistic looking game using cell shading ever. if you want to see cell shading to get out of having to to graphical work look at the dragon ball z games. that and they were trying to take the franchise in a new direction rather that continuing the old story

Jedi_Lord77
Jedi_Lord77

I hope the cell shading thing is good. I'm not too impressed, it seems like the easy way out rather than the best thing to do.

Zain-Midori
Zain-Midori

this is what iam talking about a new way tu play games i have high hopes

hotbodyboy_2006
hotbodyboy_2006

This game is going to be awesome!! I can't wait!!! Have been a fan of POP since the old 2D classic!!! I just hope this is not gonna be repetitive like Assassin's Creed.

COD4ME
COD4ME

WOOO its back! I love the sands of time, then Warrior Within was fun too but i was unsure of the direction they were taking it.. and then Two Thrones I never touched. But this.. this is what it's all about :lol:

X_Del
X_Del

This game is going to be awesome!! I can't wait!!! Have been a fan of POP since the old 2D classic!!! I just hope this is not gonna be repetitive like Assassin's Creed.

AriesMonkey
AriesMonkey

It's gonna be sweet! I love the new direction with the art and it sounds like the animations are gonna be smooth.... like a baby's bootie...

TXMostWanted
TXMostWanted

Seriously, PoP was basically my favorite 3rd party game franchise...and it just keeps getting frickin better :-)

BaNkzizFire
BaNkzizFire

This game looks promising. Just hope its not a dissapointment. Looks much better than previous POP's

Dexz
Dexz

The prince have always made you feel like an awesome acrobat. Kind of ironic since you get very stiff from just siting still playing it ^_^

jets78
jets78

wow i didnt realy like the pop games but this one looks and palys like god of war easier control system will be awsome i played a demo already this game is so cool. will keep tied down till g.o.w,3 comes out next year.

WorldWideGod69
WorldWideGod69

This game looks unbelievably sick i cant wait for it to come out

sabaheng
sabaheng

NO THIS GAME IS VERY POWERFULL IN ITS GRAPHICS MUSIC ANIMATION STORY CHARACETRS ANY THING REALLY FANTASTIC GAME >>>>>>> ((9.9)) WILL GET THIS GAME

sabaheng
sabaheng

والله شي موطبيعي ابد وتخبل اللعبه واتمنى انو تحصل على تقييم مو اقل من 9 ونص يارب اللعبه من الطراز الحديث جدا جدا والكرافيك والمؤثرات شي راقي جدا لم نعهده في سابق الالعاب القديمة ابد اللعبه من انتاج شركة يوب سوفت قد حطمت الالعاب بهذه اللعبه الرائعه كرافيك خيالي ومؤثرات خياليه وموسيقى ولا اروع تحياتي مهندس صباح طلال

Star650
Star650

I likehow this game looks, might pick it up.

jedianto
jedianto

@iron eye18, whole new story, new prince, new everything!

Iron_Eye18
Iron_Eye18

wait is this story following a new outline w/o him having the power of controlling time or is it same prince like alternate reality where he never had dagger at all ? anyone know?

lostboy85
lostboy85

this is going to be a fun game. i'm really looking forward to it =)

abuabed
abuabed

No less than 8.5 if done well I suppose(pointing at repetitions in AC), gotta keep my eyes on it.

tidyspidey
tidyspidey

Oh yeah, this is gonna kick ass... I remember the first [modern] PoP (sands of time) bowling me over on the Xbox... this is gonna do the same, for sure. The original on the Amiga was awesome too.

COD4ME
COD4ME

I loved the puzzles and the simple fighting of the original prince trilogy, and now combined with such gorgeous graphics and fluidity this will be one of the classiest games to hit the next gen yet!

Zee666
Zee666

:) I like shininess and jumping and killing, s'all good!

daniel_beck_90
daniel_beck_90

as a person who adore all past POP games , this is a must for me

GeigerdolylWodd
GeigerdolylWodd

I've bought and beat all the prior POPs well in the Sands of Time Trilogy atleast. This one looks interesting. The last one kind of reminded me of God of War.. which I liked:D

hi-buzz
hi-buzz

The graphics art in this game looks AWESOME!!! Lets hope the gameplay and controls are also good as well...

Lisandro_v22
Lisandro_v22

I was never a huge fan of the prince but this one looks great

blueguykisame
blueguykisame

hmmm so far sounds like a rent for me -- im not much of a buyer except for games with fantastic *single console, not internet* multiplayer that I can enjoy with friends after the game is beaten. Great single person games like this I rent... ANYWAYS looks great so far!

red-ray
red-ray

impossible is nothing!!! NO waiting for this is really impossible

Amir29
Amir29

Now THAT'S coverage!!! PoP was always about the puzzles for me. I always felt the combat was a bit lacking (though it got better as the series progressed). Seeing how it essentially is the same but causes excitement for it's "fluidness". This game may just be the total package!! :)

splendormk7
splendormk7

this game is going to be impressive as much as assassin's creed.. ubisoft took the gameworld to another level to me.. they try something different to make their games cool.. and they can make it.. i love them.. shortly this game will be loved by us ..

Drkr_Zen
Drkr_Zen

I thought Election Day was November 4th, aka Resistance 2 day... heh. Anyway, I can't wait for this, either. It looks awesome... although I miss the 11/18 release date. D'oh!

keifyninja
keifyninja

This looks like a great game especially for me because I've never played previous POP games.

PhantomPhoot
PhantomPhoot

December 2. America picks a new President, and we play as a new Prince. I'm counting on at least one of them to be good. Looks like this one wont disappoint.

Wolfather
Wolfather

This game probably won't have much replay value, so lately I just buy games with multiplayer, but its hard to resist this game...I might just have to buy it.