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Developer:
Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform: GB Advance, Gamecube, Xbox, PS2, PC
Release Date: November 2003

by Josh Ferguson




It has been years since the original Prince of Persia was released. The game was a smash hit and loved by fans all over. Now, years later, Ubisoft has released Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time to the next-gen consoles. Can The Sands of Time bring back those fans to the Prince of Persia series? Well, duh. It already has. But read on, anyway.


Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time revolves around a young prince in an Egyptian-like land. In the beginning of the game, you get a glimpse of the army of Persia at war with a rival army. As the two armies battle, the prince decides to seek out the Maharajah's treasure vault, in order to prove his honor to the King. Inside, the prince finds the mystical dagger known as the dagger of time. As the battle ends with the army of Persia victorious, the King orders his men to bring an enormous hourglass, called the Sands of Time, as a gift for the Sultan of Azad. When the King brings this treasure to the Sultan, the Maharajah's vizer tells of how the hourglass holds many magical powers and then tricks the prince to use the dagger to open the Sands of Time. With the Sands of Time released, everyone other than the prince, vizer and Farah, the daughter of the Maharajah, are transformed into sand creatures. Now, the prince and Farah must fight for their survival against these creatures.


In order to survive against his enemies, the prince must use the powers of the Dagger of Time. The Dagger of Time is not just some ordinary dagger. In fact, using the Dagger of Time, the prince can control the pace of time by reversing it, slowing it down and even accelerating it. For example, if the prince should fall in battle, you are then able to use the powers of the dagger and reverse time, bringing the prince back to life and allowing you to do whatever caused your death differently. However, the prince is limited to how many times he may do this. In order to use the mystical powers of the Dagger of Time, the prince must first have a sand tank. Sand tanks are acquired by killing your enemies and using the triangle button to gather the sand they leave behind, or by locating sand clouds. Each enemy refills one sand tank, while a sand cloud will refill all of them. As you continue to retrieve sand, the max number of sand tanks will also increase.


The gameplay in The Sands of Time revolves around combat and puzzle-solving. If you're not fighting then you’re running up walls, pulling switches, unlocking doors, or trying to figure out how to get to the other side of the area. The Sands of Time does a nice combination of the two and does it better than most games out there. In fact, many of the puzzles actually seem logical.


Even with the power of the Dagger of Time, it might still not be enough. In order to survive, the prince must also use his amazing agility in battle. Occasionally, when you arrive at a spot too far to jump across, the prince can run across the wall for a short period of time. Also, this ability comes in handy during battle because the prince may run up the wall, jump off, and land behind the enemy to get a quick slash or two with this weapons.


Although the combat looks and works well, it normally involves vaulting (jumping) over your enemy and getting a slash in, and then repeating. While there are enemies you can't vault over, many you can and it is the easiest way to kill them because, unlike your normal sword swings, the sand creatures can't block it.


While most action/adventure games make the hero go up against the entire army of villains, The Sands of Time actually lets you have a teammate—Farah. Wielding a bow, she helps you in battles with your enemies. However, her arrows can miss the sand creatures and pierce you. It's not that common for her to hit you, but it can happen every now and then.


One of the biggest issues with combat is the camera. While there normally aren't too many problems, sometimes while in combat the camera will zoom out a little and the walls make it difficult to see some of the combat. Occasionally, the camera might even get stuck on the wall. There is an even smaller chance that the camera messes up while adventuring, but it does occasionally happen while traveling around. Sometimes when you're about to jump off a ledge onto a pole, the camera will zoom out too far, making it difficult to decipher exactly where you're supposed to jump.


While the camera does have a few small problems here and there, the developers seemed to be nice enough to help out by adding the ability to look around in both third person view and landscaping view. It's helpful, especially because much of the game revolves around jumping from place to place and you might not know where to go. The other views make it much easier to find exactly where the prince is supposed to go.


Graphically, The Sands of Time looks lovely. No matter what the prince is doing—from combat and running alongside walls, to just standing there—the prince looks great. Not only do the prince and the cast of characters look great, but so do the environments. They’re very detailed and almost what you could imagine seeing in an actual palace. The cinematics are very pleasing to the eyes, too, although there aren’t many of them. Overall, the game is great graphically.


The voice acting inThe Sands of Time is done very well and very frequently. In fact, throughout much of the actual gameplay the prince will babble on to himself about this and that. The only problem with the voice acting is that sometimes it is difficult to understand what the prince is saying. If the game hosted subtitles it wouldn't be that bad, but since it doesn’t, it can sometimes be a problem.


Aside from the voice acting, the rest of the sound is well done, too. Everything from the sound of your sword to the waterfalls sounds great. The game music is also done well and seems to fit perfectly.


All in all, The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is one of the best of its type. With a good story, great graphics, and the fact that it’s an all-around fun game, The Sands of Time is something that is highly recommended and definitely should not be missed by any gamer.


Overall: 90%




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