GC 2008: Prince of Persia Preview
Written Tuesday, September 09, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
I present to you, Prince of Persia, but certainly not as we know it. It’s a franchise that has withheld the test of time and this year’s edition looks to be stronger than ever and has even been touted as a possible Game of the Year ... but come on, isn’t every promising title in this day and age? We got a chance to see more of the Prince in action at this year’s Games Convention and the game is shaping up pretty well.
“This is a new Prince, a new story, new artistic direction and kind of new gameplay” Ubisoft’s community development manager, Chris Easton told us. It’s not too much of a drastic change though, the game will still revolve around the “pillars of Prince of Persia” that made the franchise great; combat, acrobatics and puzzle solving all intertwined with an epic story.
The new artistic direction that the title is taking revolves primarily around that of its “cel-shaded-esque” visuals. I say “cel-shaded-esque” because Ubisoft will tell you that it’s actually “illustrative” which is a mix between cel-shading and realistic. Either way, it may not look as gritty as Prince of Persia titles of old, but it sure looks pretty. The whole idea was that the game is a living, breathing replication of its original concept art and they have done a fine job indeed.
In Prince of Persia, you don’t start off as a Prince, you are a mere wanderer travelling across the desert. You are then approached by Elika, some magical temptress and persuaded to rid the dark spirit that pollutes the land. Prince of Persia isn’t as linear as we would usually expect of a title in this series either, you pretty much choose the direction you want to go and then go that way without a care in the world.
Prince of Persia has always been about the Prince’s acrobatics and his agility and this new title, nothing has changed in that respect. Throughout the preview we managed to get a look at his “grip fall” using his gauntlet and his impressive acrobatics, and the games’ movement just screams fluency, whether it be the animation or the way that the Prince traverses the level. Ubisoft also fond time to show off one of the Prince’s new moves; the “roof run” which allows the Prince to take his action upside down, giving the Prince another acrobatic move to add to his already impressive skill list.
Throughout the game, the Prince will have a supportive character in Elika, who is invincible and we are informed she will not drag you down. So it’s safe to say she definitely falls under the “supportive” category which unlike a lot of supposedly supportive characters we are given in the twenty-first century of gaming. You will have a button that you can use to access her, so she’ll either show you the way or more importantly, come out mid air to help you with a platform or reachable object that is just beyond your grasp.
One of the key aspects of Prince of Persia this year is the combat. The Ubisoft development team have decided to take the approach of, fewer but more epic battles with some really cool camera angles. Easton stated that the whole purpose of these one and one battles was to “feel every move, every attack you have” and he quite rightly pointed out that it “was like watching a film”. The combat truly does look visually fantastic especially as the Prince and the Hunter cling swords and armour together.
The controls for Prince of Persia are simple enough leaving the player having one button for Elika, one for the Prince’s sword, one for his Gauntlet, one button to jump and one button to block so we’ll all be bouncing around the levels in no time whatsoever.
Prince of Persia certainly is looking great at this stage. It may not be a Prince of Persia title that we are so used to but change in this respect was much needed and looks to be positive. I do kind of get the feeling the new cel-shaded look may deter folks away from what seems like an essential purchase, just as they have done with such great titles like Blue Dragon. Nevertheless, Prince of Persia looks to be a breath of fresh air and offers something totally different from all the shooters that are due out this year and we’re hoping the final version flows and plays as well as it looks.