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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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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