A Whole Old World.
Prince of Persia 3D is the third in the classic Prince of Persia
series. Featuring a “three dimensional world” (hence the title), the game carries
on the story of a former beggar turned prince who must fight through dungeons
to win back his princess. This time, the enemy is Rugnor, the princess’ crazy-as-hell
cousin. Not only does he have the head of a tiger, but he also wishes to wed
the girl, the incestuous slimeball.
You control the prince from a third-person view as he fights through mostly
dungeons, rooftops and temples. The game plays like the original Prince of
Persia – fight bad guys and solve mandatory puzzles made up of switches,
jumping and crates (sigh…always with the crates). To fans of the earlier versions,
this might bring back a few memories. If you want something fast-paced, though,
this isn’t the game.
Balance-wise, the game will have you dealing with puzzles in the environment
for the bulk of your time; figuring out the right switch to hit, how to use
a head-smashing torture device to help you, etc. The rest of your time will
involve combat against enemies.
In order to fight the enemies, you’ll first have to find a sword. In one of the game’s funnier scenes, you obtain a sword by pushing a heavy crate onto a clueless soldier (there’s even a little squish sound when you jump on top of the crate). The sword fights are in relative 2D, though moving around is still somewhat slow. Sword control is done with different slashes and a block.
On a few occasions, opponents will simply freeze. The enemies are relatively stupid, often just waiting for you to come to them. Winning a fight is just a matter of timing your attacks at specific key moments, but often times, fights can be won by hacking away without rhyme or reason. While I understand the movement controls pay homage to the original, I expected more updates and refinement to be made in the fighting system.
The camera apparently isn’t much brighter than the opponents. Problems arise
when turning a corner or walking into walls. Since the camera is supposed to
be a “smart” camera and give you the best possible view, often times you’ll
get sharp, dizzying cuts between viewing angles. It has been several years since
Tomb Raider launched the third-person gaming revolution. You’d think
that by now developers would have solved these dumb camera issues…
The graphics have a pseudo-Arabic look and feel. The detail in some areas
is really striking, with cool light-sourcing and all the mood of a dank dungeon.
Unfortunately, there are occasional clipping problems – not all the polygons
fit perfectly and sometimes solids can be seen poking through. My biggest gripes
about the visuals focus on the cut scenes. They come in two different looks:
pre-rendered FMV and something akin to in-game, “on the fly” rendering. But
the scene isn’t actually rendered on the fly. It’s a Quicktime video that ends
up looking way too blurry. It’s as if they didn’t want to put in the full effort
to make all the scenes have uniform quality. Still, Rugnor looks pretty good
in the videos – I wish I could say the same for the other characters.
The music has a Middle Eastern flavor, mixed in with some heavier beats. Since
the puzzles within the game require time consuming exploration, you’ll get the
chance to hear the music loop many times until it eventually gets annoying.
Sound effects and voices aren’t anything groundbreaking, but they fit adequately
with the game. The initial settings that they made for sound are incredibly
unbalanced. Before you get the chance to make some tweaks, you’ll be in the
first cutscene, wondering who said what.
In the end, Prince of Persia 3D proves frustrating in its multiple
problems and lack of refinement. Unfortunately, a lot of fun feels sacrificed.
I’d rather see new and original ideas done well than games working off the nostalgia
of aging gamers and the ‘3D-ification’ of all things old. Some things are just
better left the way they are.