Saturday, August 27, 2022

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (PC) Review

I finished this game on Tuesday, June 3, 2008, 2:14:00 PM. This review was first published on GameSpot on March 14, 2009.

Prince of Persia Warrior Within is a sequel to Sands of Time. The story picks up seven years after the Sands of Time.

The Prince finds himself hunted by the Dahaka, the guardian of the timeline. Anyone who opens the sands of time should die, but the Prince escaped his fate, and the Dahaka who is a reincarnation of fate, tries to ensure that the Prince dies as he was meant to.

Seeking counsel from an old wise man, the Prince learns of the existence of the Island of Time, where the Sands of Time were created, which is ruled by the Empress of Time. The Prince sets sail for the Island of Time to attempt to prevent the Sands of Time from being created. The mysterious island is said to contain several time portals which enable the Prince to travel back in time. He believes that if there are no Sands of Time, the Dahaka will cease to exist as well.

The story has taken a much darker turn this time around. The Prince is no more the young and restless chap he was in Sands of Time. He is weary, scruffy and very angry.

The premise of the story is very interesting to me, but the way it is told was very convoluted. I was really confused some way through the game about my objectives, and I was playing through the levels not knowing what was going on. This made the game less immersive.

Although you understand the bigger picture of the plot, you are never quite sure the exact reason you are doing something. This is a result of the complicated story telling. Having said that, the story is unique and I quite enjoyed the ending and reading about the plot that I had missed during the game.

The level design is very interesting. Rather than taking the player to different locations, the whole game is set in a big palace. While you get to explore the palace, which is quite big, you get to do it in different time periods – the past and the present.

Traveling through time will greatly modify the levels; in the past, the palace is shown in all its glory, and in the present, it is a vine covered derelict with walls crumbling apart, and in a state of ruin.

I like the concept of showing the same levels at different times. It brings a sense of nostalgia. Having said that, the complex story telling disorients the player and the objective is not quite evident. This means a lot of needless backtracking. Of course, not all players might feel find this as a problem.

Combat is something I enjoyed for most part. The much publicized freestyle combat is a lot of fun. It was a little difficult to get all the combos right at the exact time you want to execute them, and often the combat turns into furious button mashing, yet it is very entertaining. Sometimes you got to pull off some really cool moves unintentionally – that is a very sweet feeling. There are a lot of combos to perform, and the game sets up quite well to execute them. The quality of animation is superb.

But like all other aspects of the game, there is a flip side to this. Certain parts in the game are very frustrating, especially when you don't get to have better weapons, and you get to see the Game Over screen very often.

The camera sometimes plays tricks and it is not possible to align it the way you like, making it harder to control the character. The controls are camera dependent, meaning W does not always mean forward, so should you ever be hanging onto a pillar and need to a jump to a ledge, if you do not align your camera right, you might leap to your death. If you have enough sands though, it's always possible to rewind.

I got the feeling that the game was unduly challenging sometimes because of the game play issues rather than the player's ability.

The boss fights are tedious at times and it requires a lot of retrying, which was very frustrating for me, especially because the camera has a mind of its own, and decides to act a little crazy during a crucial fight.

I understand that having checkpoints in a game will make it exciting for some, but there were times when I wished it had a proper save system and I wouldn't have to go through the same part over and over again.

Graphics in the game are very good, and they are very scalable, so older computers can handle this game very well. The environments are both vibrant and colorful or dreary and desolate depending on the time period.

Puzzles are for the most part are very well designed. Puzzles for the same level change with the time period, this is because they are environment based, and the environment sometimes vastly differs with time.

The choice of music for this game is very strange. I loved the music in Sands of Time and I was hoping I would see (hear) more of the same, but to my surprise, there was Rob Zombie playing in the background. I am a fan of heavy metal music, but in this case, it's definitely out of place. I would have loved more of the Persian/Middle Eastern kind of music in this game.

All said and done, Warrior Within is a solid game. I do not have second thoughts about recommending this. Keep in mind though that there is frustration in store for you, but it's a great journey.

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