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Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow & The Flame (DOS)

73
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Zovni (9360)
Written on  :  Mar 03, 2004
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Summary

Time to show those pressure plates who's boss all over again.

The Good

PoP2 ups the ante over the classic original hit by generally taking the same basic formula, technically upgrading it and coating the whole thing with a larger and far more thrilling sense of adventure.

As in the original, you play a dashing persian prince caught in the power struggle of the Grand Vizier Jaffar (tm) who wants to take over the throne by marrying the king's daughter. You get caught in the middle and get to play the hero simply because you are in love with that stupid princess which may be cliched but has served a certain plumber more than enough times, right?. Anyway, you thought you had killed the bozo in the original and having married the babe thought your problems looong gone. However the Vizier is back from the dead and magically disguised himself as you. Branding yourself as an fake you face death at the hands of the palace guards, and in a mad escape from the palace you end up stranded on some far away land while the princess (once again) awaits death in two hours at the hands of Jaffar. Ahhh... I smell some pressure plates waiting to be activated and some Vizier's ass waiting to be kicked.

The first obvious upgrade over the original comes in the technical front end. The sound and music is just ages away from the original, but what's really is amazing is the graphic upgrade. I mean, the game just looks beautiful when compared over the original and that's considering the already amazing character sprites and their fantastic animations. Now, thanks to fully VGA graphics, the sprites also sport vivid colors and such details as distinct clothing and weapons. And the backgrounds are now vividly detailed locations that set a much more distinct tone than the generic dungeon background of the original, with varied color schemes and details that set them appart from the rest. Truly the game is gorgeous, including the most beautiful examples of early VGA bitmap graphics and setting the tone in every screen including the beautiful cloudy-sky opening screen or the "meanwhile" screen that shows how much time the princess has and which takes the form of a magic tree that slowly loses it's leaves...

Gameplay-wise not much has changed from PoP, with the game still being a non-scrolling platformer with the same tight controls and carrying the same blend of jumping puzzles, trap avoidance, puzzle solving and swordfighting that made the original such a hit. There are however minor additions to the formula, mostly in the form of deeper puzzles that incorporate different elements aside from the ever-present pressure plates and which include different objectives such as getting a magic sword, activating a machine or releasing a magic carpet as opposed to just moving on to the next level as in the original. You also have the brand new feature (awarded to you mid-game) of separating your shadow from your body which deepens the gameplay by incorporating new strengths but also limiting your actions (being weightless means you cannot activate those plates for instance).

The really big improvement from the original in my opinion however, is the amplified scope of the adventure. I mean, for as fun as it was, the original game was just a dungeon crawl. PoP2 takes you out of the dungeon and takes you through all sorts of exciting locales from the Persian marketplace to an abandoned island, to a ruined temple to a magic castle, etc. etc. You'll get to face human guards as well as skeleton warriors, eagle humanoids, snakes and other supernatural creatures while you'll also get to ride magic carpets, flying unicorns and other adventures in your quest to return to Persia and kick Jaffar's ass. There's no question about it: Prince of Persia's sequel takes grand adventuring to it's limits and provides a much more thrilling and varied experience than the original.

The Bad

I'm not really complaining about it, but dammit the game is hard!! Just as the original, this game belongs to the time when men were men and uh... gamers were gamers! I mean, a time where each game was like 50-70 bucks a piece and didn't come in spiffy Game of the year editions with added mods or when you couldn't just log on to gamefaqs to learn how to overcome some level or just execute the level-jumping cheat. In other words: this is a hardcore game for hardcore gamers. If you think you can kick it's ass just because you got yourself a PS2 for christmas and rule The Sands of Time, then think again dude.

The Bottom Line

An even more beautiful version of Prince of Persia with a bigger sense of adventure and the same yet minimally improved (but improved nonetheless) legendary gameplay. Just as the original: a classic of classics.