MacDirectory Magazine

Summer-Fall 2009 (#42)

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MacDirectory 141 GAME REVIEW PRINCE OF PERSIA The Prince of Persia series was created in 1989 by Jordan Mechner, working for Broderbund. Since then, there have been two reimaginings of the franchise, both by Ubisoft. This review covers the most recent version, which is the first in a new series. You need not have played the previous titles to enjoy this version. The story begins with the titular character wandering through the desert, looking for his gold-laden donkey named Farah (which is a sly nod to the first revision), when he encounters Elika, a princess on the run from her father. Unable to evade him for long, the two prove unable to prevent him from opening a seal and releasing a demon named Ahriman, who is intent on capturing the princess and covering the land in darkness. One of the first things you'll notice about PoP is its fantastic visuals. Every aspect of the graphics have been rendered in a gorgeously lush style that evokes the feel of charcoal drawings. The color palettes are similarly evocative, really giving the feel of desolation to the landscape, and immersing the player in the game world. The attention to detail extends to the user interface as well; the borders and incidental elements all bear a florid, illuminated manuscript style that really helps maintain the feel of inhabiting the exotic Middle East. The next thing you'll notice is the dialogue between the two main characters, which is well-written, and spoken with a great deal of verve by the voice actors. The Prince has an endearing roguish quality to his personality — somewhat reminiscent of Han Solo — and his casual, easygoing ways contrast sharply with Elika's more mature, concerned, and steady tone. This makes for many lively exchanges between them, and gives the player a good sense of these characters as real people. Finally, the game's movement and combat mechanics are really the stars of the show. Ever since Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the series has focused on the prince's movement as the defining characteristic of the gameplay. Whereas the original series was presented in 2D, the 3D nature of the succeeding series demands new control schemes, and it must have been a challenge to make it as intuitive as it is to move the Prince around the environment. Essentially, navigation requires two elements working in conjunction: control of the Prince, and control of the game's camera. Fortunately, the game lets you assign these controls to whatever keys work best for you. The default controls require simultaneous keyboard and mouse usage, which can prove a little disconcerting if the mouse sensitivity is turned up too high; fortunately, this too can be managed. On top of the basic movement, which includes esoteric concepts like running horizontally along the walls and using the Prince's clawed glove to climb sheer cliffs, there is a separate system for combat. The Prince carries a sword that he can use in several ways to deal damage to opponents, and these attacks can be combined with his claw to inflict even greater damage. And on top of that, these attacks can be combined with the magical powers of Elika, who is much more than she seems. The combos are really key to mastering combat in the game, and pulling off a long string of them is really satisfying. The newest iteration of the Prince of Persia series is fun, evocative, and well worth the purchase. Be warned, however: it's a download-only product of over 7 GB. Make sure you're prepared to wait for it all! WORDS BY KEONI CHAVEZ Name Prince of Persia Web Site Price $49.99 download Pros Combat mechanics are exciting and fun. Excellent voice acting Cons Elaborate controls take a while to get used to. Demands high-end system for best play experience. Summary The newest in the Prince of Persia franchise delights with its reinvention. Rating ★★★★ MacDirectory 141

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