Prince of Persia Rival Swords Hands-On

We spend some time with the renamed Wii version of Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones.

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If you're a fan of Ubisoft's Prince of Persia series, there's a strong possibility that you already played Prince of Persia Rival Swords when it was released back in 2005 as Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. After checking out the first few levels of the upcoming Wii game, the two appear to be identical where content is concerned, though playing with the console's motion-sensing controllers does make for quite a different experience.

In case you're not familiar with The Two Thrones, the game is the third in the Sands of Time trilogy--wrapping up the storyline that was started in 2003's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and continued in 2004's Prince of Persia: The Warrior Within. Upon returning to Babylon after completing those adventures, the Prince is horrified to find his home city under siege and sets about reclaiming his kingdom. As in previous games, the majority of your time will be spent either in combat with enemies or using acrobatics to negotiate puzzlelike rooms that test your brain as much as your reflexes.

While the Prince's acrobatics and combat moves rarely look anything but impressive, their execution--even using the Wii's motion-sensing setup--isn't nearly as complicated as you might expect. Onscreen prompts scattered liberally throughout the first level will familiarize you with most of the game's controls the first few times you need to use them, and we're pleased to report that they're quite intuitive for the most part. Directional movement is handled via the Nunchuk's analog stick, while the remote's A and B buttons control jumping and wall-running, respectively. The Nunchuk's Z button is used to let go of anything that you're holding on to and can also be used to throw weapons at enemies or to pick up weapons that defeated enemies have dropped. Later in the game, the Nunchuk's C button will also come into play, letting you rewind time--perhaps to retroactively avoid a fatal mistake or because you think you can kill an enemy more efficiently.

Manual camera rotation aside, the motion-sensing controls in Prince of Persia Rival Swords consist of nothing more than moving the Nunchuk and the remote up or down suddenly to use the weapons in the Prince's left and right hands. These controls occasionally come into play outside of combat, but they're definitely most satisfying when used to mutilate enemies. Over-the-top combat animations and knifeplay are the order of the day, and while your hand movements don't really correlate with the action onscreen, they do afford you access to a wide selection of moves and combos when used in conjunction with the block and evade buttons.

Negotiating the environment is often a test of puzzle-solving rather than of reflexes.
Negotiating the environment is often a test of puzzle-solving rather than of reflexes.

Since the Prince is more powerful and more agile than the vast majority of the enemies that you'll be facing, the odds will be firmly in your favor if you go toe-to-toe with them. If you're on top of your game, though, that shouldn't even be necessary, because you'll be cutting them up in pleasing stealth-kill animations before they even know that you're there. When you're in a suitable spot to initiate a stealth kill (that is, you're close to an enemy who hasn't spotted you), the edges of the screen will blur. Sharply flicking the Nunchuk in a downward motion at this point will engage the enemy and then, as you watch the hapless target struggle, you'll need to perform the same motion with the Wii remote every time you see the Prince's dagger start to glow. The action slows down briefly when the dagger glows, so timing your downward strikes isn't too difficult. None of the enemies that we've defeated with stealth kills thus far have required more than two or three hits, but based on our experiences with The Two Thrones, we expect later enemies will require twice as many.

If you haven't played the final game in the Sands of Time trilogy before, then Rival Swords could certainly prove to be one of the most enjoyable ways for you to do so. And even if you have beaten The Two Thrones, this game will let you experience the adventure in a slightly different way. We look forward to bringing you more information on Prince of Persia Rival Swords for the Nintendo Wii closer to its release.

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