Wasted potential.

User Rating: 5 | Prince of Persia PC

Prince of Persia as a game has qualities much like its own game world: The rich, beautiful and fertile parts are starkly contrasted by poor, infuriating and corrupt ones.

Right off the bat I ran into problems with this game. In Windows 7 64-bit, I could launch to the menu but the game would hang while loading the first level. A quick look at the forums indicated that enabling Vertical Sync in the settings would fix this; it did. Still, this game came out nearly 7 years ago and Ubisoft has never addressed this common issue. The only other technical failure I ran into was the lack of screenshot capability, which is more of a design flaw than a bug. Uplay is not required but its existence likely played into the decision to disable the Steam overlay, and its screenshot function.

While I can forgive these technical missteps, I cannot forgive this game's story. Without spoiling anything, this game clearly ended with the expectation that there would be a sequel. However, there hasn't been a sequel and more than likely there never will be. Even the DLC epilogue doesn't wrap things up at all. At best it gives an indication of where the writers were planning to take things after the main game's ending. If you are playing on PC, that epilogue isn't available to you. I watched it (mostly at 2x speed) on YouTube.

Worse than the lack of a satisfying conclusion was the content of the ending. It clashes with the tone of the rest of the game and feels mismatched and forced. It's a slap in the face to the players and everything they felt like they accomplished in the game. Prince of Persia does a good job of building characters and setting but the plot was poor throughout and left me shaking my head as the credits rolled. This is particularly unfortunate because the two leading characters are generally very likable with great voice acting and good dialogue.

By 2015 standards the gameplay of Prince of Persia is rather poor. In 2008 it was probably slightly above average. My biggest issue with the acrobatics is how they feel nearly automatic or partially "on rails." You are required to push one of three buttons as you jump, swing or use magic to get around in your virtual playground. Precision is rarely necessary. Same for creativity since there is typically only one correct way across a specific pathway. Combat has a four button combo system and quick time events but never developed a pleasant flow in my hands. It also doesn't evolve at all as the game progresses. Tack on nearly no consequences for failure and you have gameplay that has little challenge or urgency to it. Oh, and you need to collect roughly 600 Light Seeds floating around the world in order to finish the game. That's not fun-- it's tedious.

I'd be remiss if I didn't offer up some praise for the artists behind this game. Both visually and aurally Prince of Persia is a joy to behold. The designs of the two primary characters are distinct and memorable. The environments, while clearly laid out with gameplay as first priority, are beautiful with a grand sense of scale. The soundtrack contains a nice fusion of common eastern themes, epic orchestral scores and a wondrous magical quality. It's too bad that the good in Prince of Persia is so badly undermined by its flaws.