‘What’s that music? It’s Nu-metal? NU-METAL!?!?! And why is he dressed like a Goth. Ah, Ubisoft, why hast thou forsaken me!’ and so on. Look at any computer game forum since the first preview of Warrior Within and you’ll find similar statements. Yes, the Prince is back, only this time he has more weapons, dark clothes and a sexy new haircut. Oh, and Linkin Park strumming away in the background or something. Compared to Sands of Time, it looks like a very different game, focusing on combat more than puzzles. Its looks, gulp, mainstream. Though has it really changed that much? And for those who did buy and love the first one, will Warrior Within bring you back for more, or have they changed too much? We take a look at how the game is progressing.
When the wonderful Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was released last year it met a weak response, yet for those that did buy it, was regarded as a true gaming gem. It was a cross between a platform and puzzle game, successfully bringing a more than ten-year-old franchise bang up to date. Due to weak sales though, it seems that there has been an attempt made to make the sequel appeal to a far wider audience. Or at least, that’s what the marketing campaign would have you believe. Upon actually playing the game, it’s a different story.
Warrior Within feature’s the same Prince as we’ve seen in the previous game, some years on, combat hardened and haunted by the events in the Sands of Time. This neatly explains where the Prince has gained all his new skills. And certainly, the combat has become more pronounced, but fear not, the puzzles are back in full force. Based on the few levels we played, one combat heavy and one with a mixture of both, the change seems to have been integrated perfectly. The combat works well, and critically, looks the part. It takes everything that was great about the Prince’s fluid movement and translates it into the combat. He may have new moves, but he is still the Prince you will recognize from the previous games, as he jumps off walls or throws enemies at each other. There is also a selection of secondary weapons to collect, increasing the Prince’s combat abilities for a short time.
The Prince’s new moves don’t stop with combat though. He’s got a few more tricks up his sleeve that are bound to help in solving the thorny puzzles later on in the game. A particular favourite is the ability to slide down curtains or banners with your sword. Graphically, it’s a darker version of the first game. Still undeniably beautiful, but the darker look isn’t as eye catching as the soft tones of the Sands of Time. The Prince does look fantastic though, and it would be impossible to fault his animation and design, as he jumps and rolls through the levels.
Whether the game itself will be able to strike a balance between these elements throughout the whole game is the big question and although there is a mixture of both in the demo, the combat is much more pronounced. If Ubisoft can straddle both critical and mass market appeal, as they’re attempting, we could see something really wonderful, something which would be a worthy sequel to Sands of Time. Though, from what we’ve seen so far, it should be an enjoyable ride, either way.