One Thousand and One Nights

A while ago, I played the latest Prince of Persia (2008). This is the the second series reboot already (there is the Original Trilogy followed by the Sands of Time trilogy) and I was eagerly awaiting its release from the moment I heard about it, being a huge fan of the Prince of Persia franchise.

I ordered the game on eBay and couldn't wait to receive the package. The day the game arrived, I was totally hyped up and cleared my evening plans to be able to completely immerse into the world of a fairy tale.

Without further ado, I would like to say that even if the game looked very impressive in the beginning, I got totally bored with it in an hour or two. Ubisoft Montréal managed to take a step back not only with the Prince of Persia games, but with games in general. Seeing as video games should be the ultimate interactive form of entertainment, I just can't understand why Ubisoft decided to turn their game into some sort of an interactive movie.

There is almost no way to do anything wrong in the latest Prince of Persia. If the Prince jumps off the cliff or does something else which would result in death, Elika, the Prince's companion, will use her magic to pull him out at the last moment, brining him almost to the same location he was at before.

The combat part is even worse. The whole fight generally consists of pushing different buttons at the right time (there are even flashing icons to help the confused player), repeating that over and over again. Even though the fights look spectacular, there is no feeling that you are actually in control of your characters. To understand how the combat works, think simplified Indigo Prophecy aka Fahrenheit (2005) or better yet, Britney's Dance Beat (2002). And once again, it's impossible to die during a fight, if the Prince is about to receive a deadly strike, Elika pulls him away. Enemy gains a bit of health and the fight continues.

Another big disappointment is that there are almost no enemies around. The Prince and Elika will have to face some Corrupted (creatures) which usually spawn only at particular spots (not a lot of them around) and can be wholly avoided by moving fast. Other than that, there are only a few bosses. The annoying part about the bosses is that it is required to slain each one of them several times. Not a lot of variety going on there.

After being disappointed, I felt like playing the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time just to cheer myself up. I decided to play both, the PS2 and PC versions of the game. In that order. It took me two evenings to finish the game on PS2 and only one evening on PC.

PC and PS2 versions of the game are very different and it's hard to decide which one is better. The PS2 version has very intuitive and smooth controls, I had no difficulties at all guiding the Prince through the Azad Palace. At the same time, it has a huge downside - graphics. How Prince of Persia looks on PC and how it looks on PS2 is like day and night. I even got slightly shocked after seeing that big of a difference. At the same time, the PC version can't be the obvious winner as it has horrible controls. It's not like you have to sweat a lot, but as with the graphics, the difference between how the controls work is very noticeable.

I think my preference goes to the PC version after all. I am not a sucker for glamorous graphics, but if on PS2 The Sands of Time looks simply OK, on PC it looks spectacular even now, five years after its release. My breath was literally taken away by the views from atop of the Tower of Dawn.

Compatibility note. If your processor has several cores, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time will run extremely fast on your PC. In order to fix that problem, you can use a program called ImageCFG to set affinity for the game before you start it. You can find it here. To use it, just type the following:

imagecfg -a 0x1 [PathToGameFolder]\PrinceOfPersia.exe

From now on, the game will run using the first physical CPU.

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