The PSP received a barrage of releases late in 2006 and one of those was Prince of Persia Revelations from Ubisoft. Despite its original sounding name, Revelations is a port of the second game in the modern Prince of Persia series, Warrior Within. New areas, great visuals and solid acrobatic gameplay make for one of best action games on the PSP, but technical problems once again blight a game ported from home consoles.
Being Prince of Persia: Warrior Within in all but name and a few new areas (a few hours worth at most), the story is the same as it was on consoles and PC. The Prince sets sail to the Island of Time on a quest to find the Empress of Time and alter his fate. Despite the limitations of the handheld, this is a modern Prince of Persia game, just as you'd find on consoles and PCs, with the controls working well on the PSP. You get the same rewinding time power, slow-mo power and others, and battle the same sand creatures, but new areas do offer something different to those coming to the game having already played Warrior Within.
With changes being minimal, it's safe to say that those displeased with the Prince's second outing on consoles won't be thrilled by Revelations. The game retains a strong emphasis on combat and a rather out of place hard rock soundtrack, but some great acrobatic sections are mixed in frequently enough to keep the game entertaining. Certainly, anyone coming to the game after The Two Thrones (the latest original offering in the series) will have an easier time adjusting to the gameplay - the third game in the trilogy mixes elements from the first two games - but why Ubisoft decided to port the second, and most poorly received, game instead of the much loved Sands of Time is a mystery.
Quibbles with the game's combat aside, the game plays well on the PSP. Despite the lack of a right analogue stick, the camera is only really an issue during your first hour with the game as you get to grips with the new button layout. It would be foolish to suggest the game is as easy to control as on the consoles, but given the control limitations of the PSP you'll find very little to complain about. The PSP might not be best designed for 3D action tiles, but Revelations certainly shows that it's possible. Without direct control over the camera with a second stick it's harder to run through the levels at pace, like you could on consoles, but once you slow down and make good use of the camera controls mapped to the shoulder buttons and d-pad, you'll have few problems.
Visually Revelations demonstrates what the PSP can do, with large areas, well modelled enemies, plenty of particle effects and some great lighting. Sadly, it also features some pretty low resolution textures that look rather ugly when viewed from up-close and a few texture seams are more noticeable than they should be. The frame rate isn't perfect either, but rarely affects gameplay. It's a shame that the game as a whole has a rather grim style and can't show off the impressive engine to better effect.
While the visuals have minor problems, the game's audio is a bit of a mess. The rock that accompanies the on-screen action is hard on the ears by itself, but the audio in this PSP version frequently stutters and often cuts out completely. Combine this with slightly longer than usual initial boots and pauses mid-level while the game loads (occasionally at inopportune moments) and it's clear that Revelations wasn't quite ready to go public. To be fair, load times once you're into the game aren't all that bad, but it still takes far too long to get going.
The one thing Revelations has going for it above other PSP titles is that it has the genre pretty much to itself, at least in Europe. It's also a lengthy game, with the new areas adding a few more hours, meaning you'll be looking at 15+ hours of gameplay. Its home console heritage can also be seen in the handheld unfriendly save points; a few more save points would have made for a better portable experience, with less reliance on the PSP's sleep mode being necessary.
Prince of Persia Revelations is one of the strongest action adventure titles on the PSP, but it's far from being a landmark title. Solid controls and smart visuals only go so far when the game itself infuriates more times than most people will put up with. If you happen to be a fan of Warrior Within and fancy playing more or less the same game on a handheld, you won't be disappointed, but when Ubisoft could have made the Prince's debut PSP title so much more enjoyable, it's hard not to play Revelations while harbouring some bitterness.