They forgot a couple of other things, too.
Remember that really colorful Prince of Persia that came out a couple years ago that made no sense, wouldn’t let you die, and was so boring they didn’t even bother to give it a subtitle? Well, fortunately, Ubisoft has decided to put that behind them and go back to the Sands of Time formula and leave that nameless dick with the scarves in the dust – claws, donkey, and all. The Forgotten Sands is also NOT A MOVIE TIE-IN despite the assumptions of anyone who realized the movie opened in the same week.
[image1]The story in the Forgotten Sands takes place between Sands of Time and Warrior Within, which is good, as anyone with fond memories of Star Wars knows the sickening dread the word “prequel” can give you. So I suppose the Forgotten Sands would be an "in-between-quel". The opening finds the Prince riding up to his brother’s kingdom which is being invaded by… someone. They never really explain the who or why, but I suppose if your brother’s city is under siege, the whys and wherefores aren’t as pressing as helping family.
Shortly thereafter, the Prince is thrust into a mystical adventure et cetera, et cetera. The characters are all quite good (none of whom are voiced by Nolan North); it’s just that they don’t really seem to do anything. The story just sort of meanders around a bit until the end. Even the ending is an ambiguous nothing with no real sense of closure followed by what seems like a fucking hour of credits and finally an epilogue that still didn’t feel like an actual ending.
The gameplay is a return to form from the SoT trilogy, complete with spiky-pitfall-deathtraps at every turn, and all of the Prince’s free-running abilities are thankfully intact with all the wall-running, column-jumping, and five-story splatter-deaths from previous installments.
The overall look of the game has been revamped, running on the Anvil engine (aka, the Assassin’s Creed engine), and the environments look fantastic. When you’re outdoors, you can almost see all the way to the horizon. The Prince looks a little different as well. It seems the wayfaring royal heir has been hitting the gym. His face looks kind of weird, but at least he doesn’t look like Jake Gyllanhaal. Despite the graphical overhaul, the Prince’s movements look a bit restrained, keeping his elbows in and his legs together when he jumps. Maybe all that muscle he packed on limits flexibility.
[image2]Sadly the combat is also a return to form, and this particular form is about as fun and engaging as a form you might find at your local DMV. Instead of being able to blend the acrobatics seamlessly with a diverse array of attacks like in Warrior Within or chaining together quick kills like in Two Thrones, the fights are all bland button-mash fests against literally dozens of identical dudes. Alright, alright, there are, like, seven types of dudes, but the problem is that you’ll sometimes fight all seven different types of dudes in a single room, only to fight a dozen or so of the same seven types of dude in the next room. And all without a fucking block button!
This is only made worse at about the two-thirds mark, when you’re given a sword that kills anything that isn’t a boss in a single swing. And since the Prince’s sweeping, nigh-unreasonable sword swings can hit nearly everyone that’s close enough to see just how stupid his goatee makes him look, the combat goes from being a joke to just plain sad. Forgotten Sands? More like “forgotten how to fight properly”.
Despite how prevalent the combat is, and despite how proud Ubisoft is of it, the reason anyone gets a PoP game is for its peerless puzzle-platforming (alliteration!). Thankfully, this (as mentioned before) survived the upgrade to current generation consoles with remarkable grace. Everything that was right about the free-running in previous games is here as well as some new tricks.
You can manipulate time like before, but with a few tweaks to the formula that add new depth to platforming. The tried and true rewind is there and just as important as ever, though there are some parts where the floor will drop out from underneath you once you’ve gone too far to jump out of the way. But since you’ll use the rewind power plenty of times on your first playthrough anyhow, this is just a cheap gimmick to make you waste your time power.
[image3]There isn’t a way to slow down time, at least not like in previous games. You can stop time around water, making it solid which adds incredible depth to the free-running and platforming [Plus Jesus power! ~Ed]. You also get an ability that lets you recall missing parts of architecture like pieces of a shattered wall or a crumbled column, to get you from A to B. When the game has you using both of these powers in conjunction with each other, it makes for the absolute best intelligent platforming in this series, or any other.
The biggest and most egregious fault, however, is its inexcusable length or lack thereof (insert penis joke here). The whole thing, from beginning to end to epilogue, is only about six to seven hours. Considering the fact that the previous game (the Adventures of Scarfy-Pants and the Search for his Donkey) rewarded you with an Achievement called “Speed Demon” for beating the game in under twelve hours, one might think this new game would last at least that long if not longer.
It genuinely pains me to write all these mean things that I’ve been writing, but Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands just isn’t good enough. I really wish it was. As amazing as the free-running portions are (that is, really fucking amazing), the lackluster combat, the bland story, and the embarrassing length just out-weighs them all.