Prince of Persia Rival Swords is a brilliant action adventure title - even if it's two years old already on release
Rival Swords is a repackaging of 2005's The Two Thrones which concluded the Prince Of Persia Sands of Time trilogy. The prince was able to save his love interest Kaileena from the evil Dahaka. However upon return to Babylon he discovers that war has spread out amongst his people which have been caused by his efforts to destroy The Sands Of Time. The Vizier is once again alive and far more powerful than ever before, murdering Kaileena and using the sands to become immortal. Wielding the Dagger Of Time, only The Prince can undo the Vizier's actions and put a stop to him while he can. But the prince is not alone either…
Prince Of Persia Rival Swords is an action-adventure title and is a much varied title because of it. For the majority of the game you'll be guiding through the environments with precise jumps, wall runs and other acrobatic moves to progress throughout the ruins of Babylon. While this sounds simple enough, wits and timing are essential if you wish to stay alive while you're surroundings crumble on top of you and you'll be awing at the very speed of your movements as ledges you were on seconds before break and collapse into the nothingness below you. It's the classic 2D Prince of Persia platforming, only perfected in 3D.
Even if you do slip up with each move you can rewind time due to your ability to manipulate the sands which can allow you to retry failed jumps several times more if unsuccessful in the first place. This will come especially in handy when trying to manoeuvre round the traps darted across the levels which falter your progress.
Past the traps and platforming hazards of Prince of Perisa, your real enemies are the numerous soldiers working for the Vizier. These enemies range from your typical slow but heavy guard to demonic knife wielding belly dancers and small hook handed creatures that have also been disturbed by the sands of time. Fortunately, the in-depth combat system of Prince of Persia enables you to battle your way through any foes and there are dozens of moves to master. Its waggle based, with the nunchuck and Wiimote operating the left and right side of the prince's body respectively, but Rival Swords has surprisingly accurate motion controls for the most part.
You can also use your combos to interact with nearby objects, such as a pole, which the prince will latch onto (with the right moves of course) and stab enemies with a fatal spinning attack. If fighting multiple enemies, switching targets is as simple as pushing the control stick in the direction intended. Although you permanently use the dagger of time during your adventure, you can also pick up other weapons to help you out in fights which also makes the jobs of fighting more than one foe easier to come out alive from. But the secondary weapons can be worn out, or alternatively, thrown at the enemy for added insult to injury.
However Prince of Persia can be played as if a stealthy game by avoiding combat with speed kills. These speed kill sequences are instant kills of enemies who haven't noticed you yet. Similar to Tenchu, you just stalk your foes and wait for the hint to attack, then wave the Wiimote at the right time as The Prince destroys his confused enemy with a dazzling attack.
The actual pacing of Rival Swords is generally smooth and the difficulty curve is solid too. In-between several sections of the game, there are a few logic based puzzles that require use of some initiative to be completed successfully. Rival Swords also has the occasional chariot sequence that departs from the regular on-foot gameplay altogether and is far easier than most other sections of the game. However the largest departure altogether during Rival Swords comes from the prompt and mindless but entertaining dark Prince moments of Prince of Persia.
Dark Prince is essentially the alter-ego of our protagonist and is a manifestation of the Sands inside his body. For the most part he gives the prince advise as to how to progress through certain sections of the game but he is actually a twisted and power thirsty part of the Prince's soul. Playing as Dark Prince, you get a whole new bunch of combos and special moves to use and they all kill enemies almost instantly. Dark Prince can also use his chain to swing himself from one place to another, as well as have the ability to use the usual acrobatic skills of the regular Prince.
The chain of the Dark Prince can also be used to pull out blocks to jump onto and open doors into new areas of the level. However, this comes at the price, you'll lose life as Dark Prince and the only way to regain it is by collecting sands or finding a pool of water to transform back to the regular Prince with. Also later on in the game, you can use other powers with the sands such as slowing down time and attacking enemies with a shockwave style of attack.
Although Prince of Persia Rival Swords is far from perfect despite it's promising gameplay features. The boss fights first and foremost are generic and somewhat boring, they follow the usual repeat patterns to kill them and are very easy to mess up. In-fact, the majority of time you die during Rival Swords will be during the boss battles. And the bosses themselves are uninspired in comparison to the other characters and designs in the game.
Wii owners may also find Rival Swords somewhat odd if new to the Sands of Time Trilogy, especially as its inexplicably the finale to it, The Two Thrones, rather than the first or entire set of games altogether. Being that Rival Swords is basically a repacking of the two year old Two Thrones, plus Wii controls, there is a lot more to be desired - especially with the buying price at £30 R.R.P. However the controls feel great, with motion controls and digital controls all suitably assigned and made sensitive enough for you to enjoy.
Which is weird because Rival Swords still has a few graphical glitches and bugs despite being two years old. Rival Swords would occasionally play with unplayable frame-rates, random clipping errors and some sound effects not even playing at all. On the contrary to this though, Rival Swords has some high quality music, which is very fitting of the game's themes and moods, and beautiful level and character designs. It does also has some solid voice acting and graphical prowess for the game that it is, but nothing truly outstanding by the Wii's record.
For what it is though, and the lack of great games on Wii, Prince of Persia Rival Swords is a brilliant action adventure title - even if it's two years old already on release. It has some quite interesting and varied gameplay features and is a suitably designed Wii title in terms of controls too. If you haven't already investigated Prince of Persia The Two Thrones on any other console then give Rival Swords a shot instead.