The situation appears to be hopeless. The Prince is standing at the top of a high ledge overlooking an enclosed stone pit. He needs to reach a lonely-looking lever that's protruding over the drop, high overhead, but there seems to be no clear way to reach it: Aside from the steep fall, all that he has in front of him are a trio of horizontal water streams, spraying from the adjacent wall. There's nothing else of note, and yet our hero remains unfazed. He steps back for a few paces - just enough for a run-up - then he dashes forward and leaps into the void.
As the Prince sails through the air, something changes: In response to some invisible mental prompt, the water jets freeze into solid, translucent poles. The regal acrobat grabs the first bar, swings, and then throws himself onto the second. As he jumps again, he unclenches the mental muscle that has been keeping the water in stasis. The streams flow back into life - but the Prince has barely noticed: he's reached a wall on the other side of the chamber and is now running up the brickwork. At the pinnacle of his climb he springs backward, turns in the air, and snatches hold of a third water pole that he freezes just in the nick of time. Because he's a flash git, he then does a loop-the-loop before flying over to the target lever. The metal bar slowly sinks under his weight, conjuring a distant mechanical rumble. A gate has opened somewhere. It's time to move on.
Ladies and Gentleman: The Prince of Persia has returned. He toys with time like a cat plays with a ball of yarn, rolling it back and forth on a whim. He defies gravity, scampering away up vertical surfaces in a way that would make Newton weep. He swordfights like the bastard child of Jack Sparrow and Errol Flyn. How would they conceive? I don't know, and I don't want to either. All I know is that he's a total badass - a man who genuinely deserves the title of "Prince." He's a million times cooler than Britain's own princes. The only good prince we have is Prince Philip - and he's only fun because he's a massive PR disaster. True, Ubisoft's Prince can command the Sands of Time - but Prince Philip can unleash a MEDIA STORM, just by opening his mouth. See how the Royal publicity machine quails in fear!
As entertaining as it would be to play Philip in an exciting swashbuckling adventure, there's no doubt that Ubi-Prince is the man for the job. He's been in the fighting n' platforming business since 1989, don't you know, and over the past two decades he's taken on a number of appearances. His last game, 2008's Prince of Persia, was something of a reboot for the franchise - or at the very least, a sidestep from the path that the series had previously been taking: it had a new plotline, a fresh cel-shaded art style and, perhaps most importantly of all, a revised approach to its leap-y gameplay. The jumping and climbing controls were shaved down to a simple two-button system, and thanks to the help of your magical companion, it was essentially impossible to die. Ubisoft hoped these changes would help attract a wider, casual audience to the Prince's adventures - but some gamers were left mourning for the more hardcore, challenging days of old.
If you were one of those people who found POP 2008 too easy, it's time to rejoice: The Forgotten Sands is a return to the storyline that began with The Sands of Time in 2003, taking place within the seven-year gap that leads up to the start of the second game, Warrior Within. This also means that it's a return to the game design of that time - meaning lots of fighting, a comparatively complex control system, and enough demanding platforming to give you a severe dose of arthritis. Furthermore, as I can attest after a morning spent playing a section from the game's eighth level, you can and will die. A lot.
It was a brave but welcome decision on Ubisoft's part to showcase a level from an advanced stage of the game, in that it forced all of us lazy hacks to wake up and actually use our gaming skills - battling through groups of up to 20 or so undead badguys at a time, and springing our way out of some decidedly tricky physical puzzles. It's never easy to pick up on a story when you're coming in halfway through, but from what I can gather the plot is as follows: Princey has gone to visit his brother's kingdom, but just as he arrives a massive army turns up to trash the place. The siblings decide to use the magical Sands of Time to save the day, but invariably this causes massive problems, unleashing an evil force that must be defeated before everyone can sit down for a nice kebab.