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SummaryOne of the best games of 2003
The GoodPrince of Persia: The Sands of Time has you in control of The Prince (he has no name other than that), who tells a story of how he unlocked The Sands of Time. It clearly borrows elements from Sacrifice, with the Prince giving past-tense voiceovers and when you die, the Prince says "That's not how it happened," but it does this better than Sacrifice, since death messages often change due to context, such as falling, being slain in battle, getting impaled by spikes, etc.
The opening level is the Prince's story of taking the Dagger of Time during a battle. The battle ends with the Prince's father conquering the enemy, and taking some of his treasures, including the Sands of Time, which are inside a large hourglass. A vizier who betrayed the conquered emperor tricks the Prince into using the dagger to unlocking the Sands, which turn everyone except the Prince, the vizier, and a slave girl named Farah into sand monsters.
During the game, the Prince joins forces with Farah to undo what he had done. Much of the game consists of acrobatics, which the Prince is quite good at. As well as the classic jumping and hanging onto ledges, the Prince can tumble, shimmy across ledges, walk across beams, swing on ropes and bars, run up and along walls, and rebound jump off walls to get to higher ground. Oh, and he can climb up columns and poles and jump off of them. He will occasionally have to do this while avoiding a variety of traps, such as saws, spikes, chomper thingies, flying swords, and many other bladed and pointy things.
There is also combat against sand creatures. After the first level, the Prince will no longer fight regular humans. Sand creatures cannot be killed normally. They must be beaten into submission and then stabbed with the Dagger of Time (or frozen with it and then cut up several times). Stabbing a stunned creature with the Dagger recharges sand and power tanks, which allow you to use the dagger's special powers. The dagger's most useful function is to rewind time to before the Prince's death should you make a mistake. It can also freeze an enemy, slow down time, and speed up the Prince to breakneck velocities.
Combat has its fair share of unique acrobatic moves. The Prince can vault over an enemy and attack them (and if you do it fast enough, you can even go in with a quick stab with the Dagger to retrieve sand. But some stronger enemies cannot be vaulted over, in which case you will need to jump off a wall and vault over them that way. There is also a way to shoot yourself off the wall and knock down all enemies in your path. The game controls quite well with the keyboard and mouse, and I sincerely doubt there will be any time that you wish for a gamepad.
The graphics are amazing. The original Prince of Persia was famous for its smooth animation, and The Sands of Time does it even better. I can't remember a single time when the Prince's animation seemed unrealistic. Framerates almost never slow down, so you can truly appreciate the graphics. The water effects are amazing. While you'll only be seeing pools and ponds rather than oceans, the effects for them are stunning. I don't think I've ever played a game in which water actually REFRACTS LIGHT.
The sound and music is excellent as well. The voice acting is very well done, and the sound effects are excellent, complete with echoes in large areas. The music ranges from classic Arabian to somewhat anachronistic heavy metal, and it is all quite enjoyable.
And did I mention the world is completely seamless? I didn't experience a single loading time besides a short one before starting a new game or loading a saved one.
The BadThere is one thing that must be noted: THERE IS NO SAVE ANYWHERE FEATURE! The Sands of Time is easier than its predecessors, though that's not saying much. A quicksave feature would be welcomed with open arms, especially in a later level in which you lose the Dagger.
And did I mention that it's easier, but that's not saying much? Many people think this game is easy, but I found it to be quite a challenge. Combat can be extremely difficult, and certain acrobatic sequences are exercises in frustration.