Prince of Persia-The Sands of Time (2003): Take it back
Updated: Jan 7, 2019
Ahh, the great Ubi30 event, that little yearlong deal where Ubisoft was giving away some of their best (and not so best) games in the Ubi library, it was the year I had to install Uplay onto my poor PC. Beyond Good and Evil did not work at all so I am withholding the review of it until I get a copy that works. The Crew, I did not play enough of to get my thoughts together (all I can say about it was it wrung as much engagement out of me as a documentary on cardboard) the same goes for Assassin’s Creed 3. Rayman Origins I loved dearly but I want replay it before reviewing it. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time will be the first Ubisoft game on Uplay I will now review and....it was so close to being great.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has the titular unnamed Prince assisting in the conquering of a rival kingdom who has two powerful artifacts, namely the Dagger of Time and the Hourglass. After the Prince is tricked into releasing the Sands of Time by The Vizier the palace and surrounding area are ravaged by the sands destroying all life with the exception of the Prince, the princess Farah and The Vizier. The Prince has to team up with Farah to stop the sands from consuming the whole world.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a good game; let me start off on that. The interactions between the Prince and Farah are generally charming and have a realistic feel. The voice acting is a mixed bag; which is par for the course when it comes to late 1990s-early 2000s video game voice acting. The Prince and Farah are very well performed; the entire cast in fact is pretty solid. The only exception being a guard who speaks with an extremely out of place fake northern England accent in a Persian setting screaming his lines in such a way that was grating to my poor ears. This part of the game is short and he is never seen again so no harm done.
The platforming is fun and challenging, when the game is at its best you can have the Prince acrobat his way across the levels that is not only enjoyable to see but easy to do. All you need is W A S D and left mouse button to wall run and vault. Many of the levels are puzzles that you have to parkour around in order to solve. The combat is also very fluid and enjoyable while still being challenging, with the right mouse button to attack and left to block mixed with the ability to vault over your enemies while using the environment to your advantage is fun demanding and unique. I do love how at each check point gives you a short overview of what is to come helping you with the traps and platforming. It is thematically consistent as well as helpful.
But sadly this is when things get messy for me. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has one of the worst cameras I have ever come across in a AAA game, when it was not behaving sluggishly; refusing to turn when you wanted it to forcefully preventing you from doing so because it is getting stuck behind walls, pillars, curtains, monsters etc. There were times when I could not see what I was doing because my view was obstructed by wall or was set in such a way I could not see anything. This made fights annoying because of the continua disorientation and obstruction. I could not always see the enemy wind up because the monster was out of my field of view. Or the game would shake as if struck by an earth quake because the camera was in struggling to get itself out of the floor.
I was at war with the stupid camera for the entirely of my play through. When the camera is not plotting against you then the game is good, if not great. But that was a rare event. It was a problem that got so bad I could not finish the game because it placed too many demands on the camera to behave that I could not get past it. The space was too cramped so the camera kept getting caught in walls and floors, focused on the wrong parts of the room so I could not see the attacks coming and as a result I just got swarmed and beaten down because the camera was trying to adjust itself but kept changing its mind halfway through. I hate that camera. I hate that it had to bring down such a good game. I hate that it made the game unplayable. I want that camera to burn in a fire.
I did not want to do this to Sands of Time. I really did not, for there is a good game when the camera is not bringing it down. I doubt it would have gotten into my Hall of Fame but it sure as hell will not with the camera. I do not know if this problem is there on the consoles or even back then because people would have pointed it out back then if it had existed.
I don’t know what happened. It could be that it is Ubisoft and they did not bother updating it for modern PCs, like what happened with Beyond Good and Evil. I really don’t know...
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