Top critical review
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Good...but highly over-rated
on 30 May 2004
This has to be one of the world's most over-rated games. And I'm not saying that just to be nasty.
All the magazines are ranting on about Sands of Time being 'one of the best titles this year', and naturally, with all the good reviews and 'hype' circultaing throughout the media, the initial impressions are that it could well be.
Indeed, for the first time you play this, Sands of Time has all the marks of a winner. The prince moves with both swift and fluid motion, the graphics are crisp and clear, and the musical score is absoultly fantastic - creating a well tarnished and highly atmospheric environment.
Unlike most games released, Prince of Persia features an excellent and well-thoughout control system, allowing you to execute mesmerising leaps and wallbounds with ease, springing instantly behind your opponents and delivering percise death-strikes.
However, it is only after playing the game for any length of time that you soon relise that all the praise attributed to it may have been alittle too 'generous'.
To be frank, Prince of Persia is both frustrating and very repetetive. Highly repetetive. You have to do the same thing throughout the game - hit a switch to exit an area, enter a new area and find another switch, repeat. Once you get further into the game there is nothing new that you haven't seen at the start.
Combat is also highly repetetive - and very flawed - and too much of a good thing is very bad indeed. Again, for the first few bouts you may well be thinking 'this is totally amazing'. And it is. Leaping off the heads of enemies, countering enemy attacks and dodging opponents is amazing.
However, when you are forced to battle re-spawning opponents twenty of thirty times during a single fight - one after the other - or four at a time - the novalty soon wears off. And that fixed camera during battle is nasty.
The worst feature of this game is that it is far too hard. I see myself as a highly dedicated and skilled gamer (I finished Martian Gothic without cheating) yet I found Sands of Time far too hard and linear to be any real fun. The game does present a solid challenge, but when you have to literally watch the 'visions' in order to figure out what to do next (which wall can be climbed and which cannot) or where to go, the game quickly becomes frustrating...boring...and a chore. And it quickly sinks into 'trial and error' terrority.
For example - how do you 'logically' do the harem level with the puzzle of the nine doors, without a trial and error approach?. And, after executing double wall-jumps throughout the game, why does the prince refuse to do them during 'Climbing the Tower of Dawn' on your first few attempts - times when it is vital that you do them without any annoying back-tracking. And, is there any way out the courtyard if you get hit by the birds when tip-toeing across the rubble?
I was really disappointed with Prince of Persia, and must admitt that under its cowl of beauty and all the hype, it is nothing short of 'average.' Its good - but not great, and in my opinion, the heavy repetition and 'trial and error' approach required to progress throughout the game does not justify either a 'five star' or '9 out of 10' rating.
Although the final boss is laughably easy compared to the rest of the game, I found that overall, Prince of Persia is all about endurance - seing how much you are prepared to take before becoming bored (repetition) Or frustrated (difficulty)
And that has to be the final nail in the prince's coffin. Games should always be about 'skill' - not 'patience'.