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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

UbiSoft

 

Developer

UbiSoft

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2005

 

 

- Excellent level design

- New Dark Prince abilities

- Variety of gameplay

- Time pressure challenges

 

 

- Comparatively weak graphics

- Fighting can be repetitive

 

 

Review: Prince of Persia: The Warrior Within (XB)

Review: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (XB)

Review: BloodRayne 2 (XB)

 

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Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

I loved Prince of Persia: The Sands of time when it first came out. The fluid control scheme allowed the gamer to perform some very cool moves without a lot of fuss. I skipped the sequel Warrior Within due to some other great releases at the time. Looking forward to Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, I was excited to return to the Prince's adventure. Having now played the game, it has the same excellent interface and time rewind functions, but it has added some new twists that keep it from simply being a rehash.

 

prince of persia the two thrones          prince of persia the two thrones

 

For those of you haven't jumped in to the series yet, the Two Thrones is the third game in the series which has followed the prince through his adventure of possessing a dagger that can rewind time. The Prince is agile and able to climb walls, avoid gaps in the terrain, climb columns, sneak on ledges and basically, negotiate any type of terrain or obstacle. When it's time to dispatch enemy guards, the Prince is equally up to the task and is able to perform elaborate fighting moves. All this can be manipulated by the gamer very easily with an excellent control scheme on a dual shock PS2 type game controller. One innovation that was introduced in the series was the time rewind function. If the Prince misses a jump and is falling to his death, instead of reloading the game from the last save checkpoint, the player can rewind time and attempt to make the jump again. This time the storyline has the Prince feeling the ill effects of time manipulation. Through exposure to the Sands of Time, the Prince now has an active split personality that manifests itself physically.

 

What this means for the game is that the play switches back and forth between the two personalities; the dark, aggressive more sinister personality, and the light, regular more compassionate personality. This second personality is a large part of what is new in the Two Thrones and what keeps this entry in the series fresh. When you morph into the dark Prince, you have a new weapon; the Daggertail. This blade on the end of a chain allows for some new combat moves when taking out a group of enemies. It also allows the Prince to grab on and swing from poles and fixtures on walls.

 

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With the rewind function, in past games, there was very little pressure to get past any given terrain. Sure there were some cases where the floor would collapse beneath your feet if you didn't jump or run across quick enough, however, you could rewind and prepare yourself as much as you wanted before actually taken on that bit of terrain. When you are turned into the Dark Prince, your health constantly drains so you have a limited time to negotiate the terrain and get to the next point in the game where you are 

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transformed back into the regular Prince. Although your health is constantly falling in this state, you are given some grace time as you can gain energy back by absorbing sand, which can be found in breakable containers lying about, or by killing your enemies. Still, the added pressure forcing the player to move quickly through certain sections of challenging terrain is a fun slightly nerve wracking experience.

 

Generally, a flaw to the series has been that the fighting sequences of the game, although visually spectacular to behold, are still somewhat repetitive and drawn out. While this is still true, the addition of the fighting sequences where the gamer gets to play as the Dark Prince add more variety to these parts. Now with the Daggertail, the Prince has some great new moves that he can perform to knock down and take out enemies. One particularly neat trick is to use the Daggertail to latch on to a column, pull the chain tight and then to run around that column, taking out anything in the area between the Prince and the column. Of course, while as the Prince's normal self, you still have access to a great number of spectacular moves and combos. Although by the end of the game these will all seem like nothing new, while playing through the game, the fact that you do have easy access to these cool moves makes the fighting parts of the game more than bearable.

 

prince of persia the two thrones          prince of persia the two thrones

 

In many occasions, although fighting enemies is difficult to avoid, you are given the opportunity to avoid a fight altogether by taking down the enemies with stealth kills. These are reaction type events where by pressing a button at the right time, you can quickly take down an enemy quickly and silently. At the same time you are treated to a wicked cool execution animation. These stealth kills can also be a series of kills all attached into one longer stealth kill. In one particular stealth kill that spanned two enemies, the Prince dropped down on one guard, knocking him down, jumps to another guard, stunning him, jumps back to the first guard and finishes him, and then jumps back the second guard with a spectacular flying strike to finish the sequence. These are reaction type events, so if you miss your cue to press the proper button, or if you press that button too early, the stealth kill will be interrupted and this leads to an animation where the Prince is usually caught in mid jump and thrown to the ground. If you miss a stealth kill, you'll just have to deal with the enemies the old fashioned way. Stealth kills while in the Dark Prince state are a little bit easier to perform but are less rewarding. They are usually simple button mashing sequences that don't require good timing, but rather, a strong thumb. The kills are more brutal, but less spectacular in nature.

 

The true meat of the game and where the game is most fun however is in the challenges presented in getting around the levels.

 

Each area is designed in a linear fashion where the Prince must simply get from one point to another. To do so, the prince is able to climb sheer walls by using his dagger, perform spectacular acrobatic jumps, run along walls, hang from ledges, swing from overhanging poles and more. Armed with this myriad of actions, the level design really shows off the Prince's abilities, by having the gamer perform all these actions through simple commands. The satisfaction in overcoming each level is in seeing the available pieces in reaching your destination, and stringing together the Prince's moves to successfully reach your objective. For instance, there might be an overhanging ledge that is too high to reach. On the wall perpendicular to the ledge, there may be two fixtures which the Prince is able to jump and hold onto with his dagger. When seeing these pieces to the puzzle, you can quickly gain access to the ledge by jumping up from one fixture to the next and then run across the wall to grab on to the ledge. By providing the gamer with a wide variety of moves and elaborate levels, the designers have created exceptionally rewarding three dimensional puzzles where the key to success is in the gamer's mind as much as their hands.

 

The Two Thrones doesn't rewrite the Prince of Persia series in the way that the Sands of Time did, however, it doesn't need to. The new elements added to the Two Thrones are enough to make this third installment as entertaining as the first one. One improvement through the series however that I did find somewhat disappointing is the graphics as these do not seem to have improved over the time since the Sands of Time was released. This disappointment though doesn't prevent me though from wholeheartedly recommending the Two Thrones and the whole series to gamers. As an action adventure game, this most recent iteration of the Prince of Persia series is one of the best series of games for the genre.

 

- Mark Leung

(February 23, 2006)

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