The Prince of Persia series of the last generation of consoles was one of the most successful and critically acclaimed series to come out during its era and so it was no surprise that Ubisoft would want to somehow continue it on the current generation of consoles. The problem was that there was really no room to continue the story after it was so perfectly tied together with its final chapter. The solution? An interquel! Thus, we have the Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.
Naturally, the only place to expand on the trilogy would be in the seven year gap between the first chapter in the trilogy, The Sands of Time, and the second chapter, The Warrior Within, since the third chapter, The Two Thrones, took place immediately after Warrior Within and left no room for expansion (unless they wanted to go more in-depth about the Prince and Kaileena’s relationship on that boat of theirs… probably not a lot of gameplay there, but it might’ve provided for some interesting mini-games). In order to leave more room for later expansion and maybe the return of the Warrior Within’s nemesis, the Dahaka, Forgotten Sands takes place immediately after Sands of Time.
Now that we’ve banged out the timeline continuity, let’s get into the actual story. Our young hero, still not nearly as jaded as we would find him to be in Warrior Within, is sent by his father immediately after the events of Sands of Time to meet his brother, Malik, in the hopes that some of his leadership skills would rub off on our young prince. Upon arriving in his brother’s kingdom, the Prince finds Malik’s capital under siege and immediately puts to use his infamous agility as he begins to scour the city for his brother.
Once he catches up to Malik, the Prince finds that Malik is so desperate to win the battle, knowing that his forces have been nearly wiped out, that in a last ditch effort before retreat, Malik reveals to the Prince an ancient seal he has inherited. This seal supposedly will unlock the gates to a mystical sand army that the once great King Solomon had control over. Malik figures if he could control the army, he could turn the tide of war. It wouldn’t be much of a game though if Malik’s plan came to fruition.
As soon as the seal is inserted, it snaps in two as sand begins pouring out into the treasure room of Malik’s palace. The Prince, once again played by Yuri Lowenthal, quips that it always seems to be sand as only he and Malik are saved from the gruesome fate of being turned into sand statues by the remaining magic in the two halves of the seal. The Prince must now find a way to re-imprison the sand army that is running havoc around Malik’s city while discovering the secrets of King Solomon’s ancient city.
If you are a fan of the Prince of Persia trilogy from the last generation of consoles, then you will absolutely love Forgotten Sands. The Prince flows just as smoothly as ever as he uses his infamous agility to still hop along walls, columns, and flagpoles with as much as grace as in any previous game in the trilogy. There have also been new fighting mechanics added to the game as the Prince now uses not only his entire body and environment as a weapon with his typical jump kicks and acrobatic swinging sword somersaults, but several new powers that he acquires over the course of the game.
There is still the classic rewinding of time introduced way back in Sands of Time, but now there is also the ability to control the elements of wind, water, fire, and earth as the Prince’s new medallion made out of his half of the seal allows him an entire new power set. This new power set also allows for brand new puzzles for the Prince to traverse. Abilities like being able to freeze and unfreeze water has the Prince bouncing back and forth between frozen water ropes and trying to perfectly time when to turn waterfalls into walls and back. Also, being able to reverse time for not only the Prince, but also structures in the environment, creates a whole new challenge in terms of “looking before you leap”.
These new powers also help in the pumped up fights that the modern consoles can handle. There are times now where you are facing entire rooms full of twenty or thirty sand soldiers now, instead of only five or six like in most points in the original trilogy, so being able to call up stone armor or create a whirlwind around the Prince can really help even the odds.
The game also shines in terms of graphics on modern consoles. Never has a Prince of Persia game (even compared to the one that came out in December of 2008) looked so good. From facial expressions to Malik’s collapsing palace, Forgotten Sands is a visual gem. When you throw in a fantastic score and great voice acting from all those involved, including Yuri Lowenthal returning as the voice of the Prince, and this game’s peripherals are top-notch.
Of course, no game is perfect though. Even with all the great gameplay elements of the original trilogy successfully being ported over to this new chapter along with some tremendous additions in terms of puzzle solving, the game still has a couple of faults. Some irritating mid-jump glitches can make the already frustrating traps even more difficult to traverse.
More frustration comes through with the fact that even though the new systems can support more enemies, many of them are just as simple minded as ever and fall like bowling pins as they are knocked over by the agility of a well-trained Prince. The lack of enemy A.I. helps contribute to the fact that the story mode should only be about a 10-hour romp for most experienced players.
Another weak point of the game is that there isn’t much to keep you playing this beyond the short story mode. There isn’t even a hard mode. There is a second mode called “Enemy Tides” that you can unlock after beating the story mode where you try to defeat eight waves of enemies as quickly as possible, but you’ll be so experienced with your powers by the time you finish the game that you should blow through it on your first try with little difficulty. There are some collectibles and the hopes of powering up your Prince more to maybe bring you back for a second playthrough, but this is unlikely.
After having several intense playing sessions with Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands I have to say that if you are a fan of the series, then this is a must pick up. If this is your first foray into this series, I would recommend a rental first, but this is still a game that most every action/adventure gamer should enjoy.
Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.
Graphics: 10.0: From the smallest grain of sand on the ground to Malik’s collapsing palace, and with spectacular faces and models for all the characters, Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands is one of the best looking games out there now.
Audio: 10.0: Spot-on SFX, a fantastic score that perfectly sets the mood, and superb voice acting from all those involved, including the return of Yuri Lowenthal as the Prince, and the game is a treat for your ears.
Plot/Plot Development: 9.0: I admit that I was a little hesitant with the fact that the newest Prince of Persia game was going to be an interquel, but the folks at Ubisoft did a really good job tying it into the first game. The only problem I have with it is that I would have liked to have seen a tease of the Dahaka at some point since he is such a major force in the Prince’s life later on.
Gameplay: 8.0: The gameplay is very good and the action is as always tremendous in a Prince game. Unfortunately, poor enemy A.I., some glitches, and only 10 hours of gameplay knocks this down a little.
Replay Value: 4.0: This is where the game really falls flat. The “Enemy Tides” survival mode was a nice idea, and I’m sure there will be a little DLC later on, but no hard mode and a minimal of collectibles in the story mode will keep you from playing this after getting through the story.
Overall (not an average): 8.0: A fantastic game to play through the story once, but unless you are an established fan of the Prince of Persia series you should rent this before full out buying it. Still though, this is at least a must experience for every action/adventure fan out there.