I've been a fan of the PoP games since the very first game back in 1990. This one is perfectly playable, but it sometimes feels as if the gamesplay has been sacrificied in the name of the game looking more impressive.
You control the Prince, who is accompanied by Elika, around a landscape features with platforms and traps, overcoming the obstables using your acrobatic abilities. This gameplay is broken up with the occasional generic baddy and boss fights. So far, so familiar.
If you're about to die, Elika will use her magic to "save" you. It means you never reach a "game over" screen, and the game flows very well. If you get "saved" then Elika puts you back on the last bit of solid ground you stood on. In a weird way it feels like cheating, but it's less annoying than having to repeatedly do long sections of jumps and runs and then dying before the next save point (I got really fed up with Sands of Time because of this).
You can make the Prince swing through an impressive range of gymnastic type moves. The thing is, they look great to the casual observer, but as a player you sometimes don't feel in control. You don't really need to time jumps, wall runs and so on precisely at all; you appear to get a comparatively long time to press the wrong button. But because what you're doing with the controller sometimes feels a bit divorced from what's happening on screen, it's easy to tap the "jump" button twice at the wrong moment and the Prince leaps to his death.
I also wasn't a big fan of the power plates; the Prince and Elika bounced around the landscape between them like pinballs. It was remiscent of Sonic the Hedgehog and just seemed a bit weird.
Another frustrating element is the fights. I've played through quite a few levels, and they essentially seem to be the same fight over and over again; the bad guy launches a massive combo attack that you need to block for what seems like ages, then you hit him back. Then he launches into a combo again, and the whole thing repeats. The bosses look and sound pretty varied and impressive; I just wish they fought a bit differently to each other.
The dialogue (which you can optionally hear by pressing L2 to chat to Elika during the game) is entertaining in a cheesy sort of way. The best example I've heard goes something like:
Elika: We need to get to the top of the tower. Prince: We'd need a siege engine to get up there. You wouldn't happen to have one on you? Elika: I don't have a siege engine in my pocket, and it looks like you don't either.
I feel I've been a bit unfair by giving three stars (I would have gone for three and a half if Amazon let you do half stars), as it's essentially quite a fun game. It looks pretty, and for the most part I enjoyed playing it. However, the repetition, lack of precise timing, and the whole Elika-as-saviour thing mean that it feels as if it's been aimed more at kids than previous installments. It's still a must for PoP fans, but it's just not as good as my favourite game in the series, which was the Warrior Within.
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