Psuedo review: Prince of Persia: The Fallen King

Discussion in 'GBAtemp Reviews & Guides' started by dib, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. dib

    dib GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

    May 1, 2004
    United States
    I'll just get the most obvious points out of the way: their art direction shamelessly borrows from Zelda Wind Waker (when in Rome...) The story is trite and generically conveyed via splash screens. The protagonist is unappealing. Meh.

    Since this is a 2D Prince of Persia game, comparisons are inevitable. Many elements here in the traps and corridors are reminiscent of the original game. The relationship is akin to Symphony of the Night placed next to the first Castlevania.

    So if anybody is willing to give it a chance despite the fact that the story should be considered toxic, then this game is another feather in the cap of the DS. These are touch screen controls as they should be, and I'm the one typically lambasting developers for stapling the TS input onto existing game models--sometimes at the expense of superior traditional controls.

    The difference is that while games like the Spiderman series are in the habit of injecting tedium into their games by requiring extraneous efforts on the TS to substitute what pressing the A button would accomplish, this game is designed from the ground up with TS in mind. In other words: here, it _works_. Your character will navigate the 2d environments and interact with objects in a highly intuitive and polished manner.

    As a platformer, it's essential that the physics and controls be functional and free of nuisances. The capacity for errors generating frustration is great if it requires too much precision, or is so relaxed that it begins mistaking your intent for the wrong maneuvers. But they appear to have found that sweet spot, and you will easily bound up vertical shafts by wall jumping with taps on opposite sides. You'll tap below your character to accelerate a descent, or on a ledge to climb up. Tap off a ledge to hang down, double tap across a gap to leap it, or on the ground to roll, etc.

    Designing fulfilling stages in 2D is not an easy task, but they succeed in creating winding levels and offering plenty of varying obstacles across the linear progression from start to finish. On top of this, it has that more unquantifiable+intangible quality, the one called 'fun'. The gameplay is mixed up slightly with the addition of a partner, which adds more touch screen abilities if triggered by the shoulder buttons. The 3D engine isn't pushing the limits of the system, but it is functional and keeps the framerate up, and they apply old tricks like foreground masking to stow hidden areas throughout.

    So ultimately every aspect suggests that Ubisoft has been paying close attention to the library of games for the DS to date, and seized the opportunity to make some improvements while offering their own take on this new format pioneered by the likes of Phantom Hourglass. But rather than feel like your typical, somewhat sleazy ripoff of a more notable commercial title by a franchise product, the connection to the series roots with a genre they helped popularize makes it feel like it belongs here.

    It's not without it's negatives because the engine isn't above the occassional peculiarity. For examle: while trying to jump to a moving platform, sometimes I'll miss it but still hang on the edge for a moment before falling. It's not a deal breaking grievance, but simply testament that no engines are ever perfect. The combat is also mostly a token offering. Fighting enemies carries about as much weight as any other obstacle: you just click on them. So don't expect any dashing swordplay or depth in that department.

    I was not expecting to enjoy this game nearly so much, and unfortunately I don't expect others will either. Already many are quick to dismiss the game on the controls alone, and many more probably won't bother picking it up. So this is definitely fodder for 'most underrated' lists everywhere by those that do give it a chance. I cannot guarantee that everybody will find it so immediately accessible and endearing, but I certainly recommend giving it that chance.
  2. GeekyGuy

    GeekyGuy Professional loafer

    Former Staff
    Jun 21, 2007
    United States
    Seemingly fair review. I fall into the category of the few who are diggin' the game. It has its frustrations and some of the level elements aren't the greatest concepts, but in the end, the fun PoP platforming is there, and more than that I can't ask for.

    I do disagree with you, in that I think it's the dialogue that's "toxic," not the story. There's actually a pretty decent tale here, and it has a decidedly Middle Eastern vibe to it. But yeah, the dialogue must have been written by someone very young with very little experience.