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Innovative yet fundamentally old fashioned slice of gaming excellence,
This review is from: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (GameCube) (Video Game)The arrival of the technology that has made it possible for developers to create fully fledged 3D third person action adventures has, I think, been somewhat misinterpreted by developers over the last decade or so. Because the technology is available, they seem to feel that they always have to use it. Thus every game that is released has to be massive and allow the player to wander everywhere, as in real life.
There are those of us, however, that, while appreciating the many brilliant games that this approach has yielded - the fully imersive game-as-alternate universe titles such as the "GTA"s, as well as more obvious examples like "Zelda: Ocarina of Time", there are still those of us that occasionally crave something simpler, more readily playable, more old school. And for that something to not be just anotherrepackaged old game on a handheld console made by Nintendo.
Oddly, this is where "POPSOT" steps in. Certainly, it's 3D, and very impressive looking for its time. But it has an immediacy and addictiveness and, above all else, a sheer digestibilty, that is sadly becoming increasingly rare in modern gaming.
It is relatively linear and straightforward: you solve the puzzles, fight the battles, save at regular intervals, and move on. The game is not riddled with cheats, secrets, hidden levels and so on. But it need not be, because the main game is good enough to hold your attention and render such gimmicks unnecessary. It is also highly innovative in its own way. Being able to reverse time when you are about to die (until you run out of magic sand) arguably makes the game a little too forgiving, but nonetheless it makes playing it, while it lasts, a far more pleasant and less frustarting experience. And after playing it I often found myself desperately pushing the trigger button in vain hoping the same would happen on other games - illustrating the extent to which this can get under your skin.
The game is disappointingly brief and relatively easy, but then games are on the whole too difficult nowadays, and it is most refreshing to have a game that can actually be completed by most who pick it up. And, of course, it is fun while it lasts.
The fact that the game is not divided into levels can create difficulties (imagine it: "I'm stuck on Prince of Persia at, er, the bit with the stairs ans the birds...") but, if anything, that helps to give the game added depth. You feel as if you are embarking on an epic journey, without the need for screens saying "Level 5 loading" to ruin the illusion.
Overall, then, this is something of a surprise package. An innovative, enjoyable, digestible game with a fundamentally old school playing ethos, which is sadly over all too soon. An essential purchase if you can find it cheap (which should not be hard now).