Tech. Music. Games.

Prince Of Persia: Sands of Time

Here’s the second of my WotR reviews. I think I might have done more stuff for them, but it’s probably lost to time…


There was a time when I was impressed by sexy animation alone - Saturday lunchtime to be exact - as I was playing the original Prince Of Persia as a prelude to a credit card-bending trip to Game.

What I can’t believe about Sands Of Time is how evocative it is of this original platforming masterpiece. From the first climb and jump (which is nicely presented with unobtrusive tutorial aspects) you know you’re The Prince. Or, in my case, MC Hammer. It’s the trousers.

So, there I am testing out the controls when all of a sudden the Hammer wall-rides 30 feet to a platform I’d barely noticed. Time to sit up and pay attention. And that’s what makes Prince of Persia so great. There are plenty of genuine attention-demanding moments in this game.

The cinematics, camera blurs and fixed views all bring out the vast scale of the environments, but there’s never a point where this daunts you. Need to get to a door four storeys up with only pigeon nests and light fittings to grab hold of? No probs. Hammer will probably slip in an extra backflip off the pigeon’s beak for good measure.

This is platforming goodness on a new scale. Everything from the past updated to the new. It never feels scripted, you never feel that you can’t grab hold of that ledge and you never feel like you’re playing a game.

And then there’s the combat. Ooooo, the lovely combat.

Initially, waving your sword about feels lacking in control - you don’t pick the combo for instance, you wave the stick in the general direction of where you want the kick-ass, leaving the fleet-footed 80s rapper to do his thing. But a few well placed text messages later and you’ve got the game Buffy The Vampire Slayer wished it was. I’m telling you now, there is no better combo than a 6-foot run up a wall, followed by a graceful backward flip with a mid-air slash and sand-sucking stab of death. Only takes three button presses, that.

So the sands, then… Yes, you can rewind time about 20 seconds - which makes every platforming mistake and fighting fuck-up a mere practice run for the crowd-pleasing display of joypad prowess that is to follow. Yes, you can slow down time as a whim for when you’re really showing off. Yes, you can stab enemies and force them into matrix-like bullet-time while the world around them continues at normal pace. Yes, you can do all of this whenever you want.

It’s a lovely, lovely feature and empowering to say the least. But it’s a minor thing compared to the goodness in this game’s heart. Everything about it oozes high production value and attention to detail. From the visionary moments at Save Points to the epic scale of the architecture. But, more importantly, for taking a cherished idea from yesteryear, supplying it with a new pair of baggy trousers, giving it a stern talking to about family responsibility (and how crap 80s rap really was), before throwing it out into the brave new world.

Lara Croft? You can’t touch this.