Prince of Persia 3D Review

It has two tragic flaws, and these problems are so overwhelming that the good parts seem wasted.

If everything about Prince of Persia 3D were bad, it wouldn't be nearly as frustrating as it is. If the game were terrible or even mediocre, it would be easy to file away with all other such games that come out month after month. But there is much to like about Prince of Persia 3D, and certain aspects of it are especially excellent. Yet this third outing for Jordan Mechner's swashbuckling hero has two tragic flaws, and these problems are so overwhelming that the good parts seem wasted.

The previous two Prince of Persia games, the first from 1989 and its sequel The Shadow and the Flame from 1993, were both side-scrolling action games. In them, you controlled the prince as he climbed ledges, fought guards, and jumped over and crawled under traps, all in search of his beloved and imprisoned fiancée. Prince of Persia 3D follows this formula exactly, only this time the game is in 3D, and the prince and his princess are married. But once again, the prince has been imprisoned and left for dead, and he must escape the clutches of the villain and rescue his fair maiden.

That Prince of Persia 3D is essentially a three-dimensional version of its predecessors is no criticism. In fact, the trap-jumping, guard-fighting gameplay of the original translates nicely to 3D, and the best part of the game is how effectively it utilizes these elements. Only a handful of games have so successfully created the feeling that you are capable of such daring feats. During the course of the game, you'll find yourself swinging from ropes across wide chasms, leaping off high ledges to slide down rising drawbridges, and other exciting stunts.

The excellent level design in Prince of Persia 3D makes such stunts commonplace. The game is well paced; it has just enough enemies so combat doesn't get tedious, enough exciting moments to make you want to keep playing, and enough puzzles to keep things interesting in between. The levels also look quite stunning and are filled with big, exotic architecture and wondrous gadgets and machinery.

But while the levels themselves look great, the characters that populate them don't. That's not to say they look bad (except in the cutscenes, in which the disproportional bodies and strange faces of the characters can look downright ugly), but they don't look particularly special either. The motion-captured animation looks great, except when the prince runs up stairs or ramps, at which point he looks like an old man who just doesn't have it in him anymore. Then again, it's been ten years since he first took to adventuring, so perhaps we should give him a break.

The inconsistent visuals would be easier to ignore if the game didn't have more serious problems. The game's worst flaw is its sluggish and unresponsive control. Turning the prince while running feels like trying to steer an 18-wheeler. He turns wide, which makes running around corners a chore. And the game often won't respond to two commands at once, so that actions such as drawing your weapon or simply jumping while running are far more difficult than they should be.

The perspective is almost as problematic. The camera stays at a fixed point behind the prince, and only occasionally adjusts itself to clear objects and obstructions. You can control the camera Tomb Raider-style if you stand still and manipulate it manually. But that doesn't help when your back is against a wall and you're trying to make a difficult jump while the camera is showing you in close-up profile. Such situations are all too common in Prince of Persia 3D.

During combat, the camera angle is less of an issue because the perspective switches to a side view when your weapon is drawn, and while this feature is helpful, it too produces its share of annoyances. You can't turn while your weapon is drawn, which makes lining up with an enemy difficult. Thankfully, enemies will run up and get in position for a fight, but often you'll just start swinging wildly while they bash away at you. Then again, this problem goes both ways; your enemies will just as often not be able to hit you while you whack away at them with impunity.

Prince of Persia 3D would have been amazing had it been more refined in certain specific areas. The quality of the levels will more than likely make you want to keep playing despite its flaws, but these flaws will be a constant source of dismay for anyone who just wants to enjoy jumping and slashing around in the otherwise well designed world.

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I would have been reading this review with a smile. Having loved the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time trilogy, the fact that they were eventually able to bring PoP into 3D and do it right is a cause of joy. But something came up in my head that killed that joy, and I'm gonna rant about it.

You see, a day before Ubi revealed the first gameplay video of Sands of Time, any idiot out there would have cited this game as "proof" that "some games just don't work in 3D". But as we all know, the Sands of Time trilogy was great, can be easily related to the 2D originals and was arguably a source of inspiration for a certain franchise that will become much more popular than it: Assassin's Creed. But a day before all that came to be, some guy on some forum would have easily gotten away with saying that "PoP just doesnt work in 3D". Just like they are saying about Mega Man and Castlevania. 

For games like pac-man, were everything is centered around the 2 dimensions, It is clear that even if you achieve a good 3D game, it cannot be related to the classic game (It may be a platformer or something, and pac man isnt a platformer) But for Mega Man and Castlevania, There are so many design elements which can be carried on to a 3D enviroment. So many gameplay aspects, which are not limited to side scrolling, and can easily find an equivalent in a 3D world. 

But the people who make these claims do not want to hear this, and instead use the currently existing 3D titles as "proof" that the franchises aren't meant for 3D. It may be true that most people think Mega Man Legends and Castlevania Lords of Shadow are (note ARE, 'cos LoS 2 is gonna kick ass IMO) not as great as the BEST of the 2D mega mans/ castlevanias, But how can they say just because the much younger 3D is not as good as the long-established 2D, 3D will always be crap? If someone only played the more "wonderful" 2D megamans/vanias (*cough* battle network 6 *cough* castlevania legends *final cough*)they may also say that 2D is crap. But they are not seeing all that the franchises are capable of. In the same manner, the current 3d titles are not showing all that is possible. I mean, some of the flaws are "textbook flaws": bad level design, bad controls etc. They just haven't gotten the hang of 3D yet.

Now before I stop commenting on a 14 or so year old article and try to get a life, I'll say that if a person can seriously look at Mario, Metroid's Samus, PoP's Prince, and even Kid Icarus' Pit (the guy was MIA for 2 decades, and he comes back and jumps to 3D like it's nothing!) and STILL pat Rock, X, Simon and Alucard on the back and say "Don't worry guys, the Z-axis just ain't your thing, just ignore this great opportunity that you're contemporaries have seized and used to remain relevant!" Then such a person is either  stuck too firmly in the past,  not truly a fan of said IPs, or is just plain dumb.

Prince of Persia 3D More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    It has two tragic flaws, and these problems are so overwhelming that the good parts seem wasted.
    Average Rating341 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Red Orb Entertainment
    Published by:
    Ubisoft, Red Orb Entertainment
    Open-World, Adventure, Action, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    All Platforms
    Animated Blood and Gore, Animated Violence