Review – Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands isn’t a marvel. In fact, it hardly makes any leaps and bounds. If you were to hold it up next to The Sands of Time you would find that the game is very similar to its spiritual predecessor. This is hardly a bad thing. The Sands of Time was an excellent platformer, and The Forgotten Sands is also an excellent, albeit slightly flawed, game.

The Forgotten Sands is set after the events of The Sands of Time. The Prince, whose exploits are unknown to his family, arrives at his brother’s palace to find it under attack. Swinging from one high point to the next, the Prince finally infiltrates his brother’s palace and finds his brother, desperate to stop the invasion, about to unleash a mythical army. This army, Solomon’s army, is unleashed despite the protests of the Prince, and rather than being under his brother Malik’s command, it operates on its own, swallowing up the kingdom and turning everyone to sand. The Prince sets out to right his brother’s mistake and maybe gain some recognition from his family in the process.

The game’s visuals look great in certain sections and passable in others. The game is built on the Assassin’s Creed II engine, and in sequences such as the opening palace scenes, it’s prowess is on full display. Beautiful fountains spout water, white marble columns shine in the sunlight and brightly flaming arrows pierce the walls. Unfortunately, the majority of the game is spent in dull brown environments that don’t take advantage of the engine’s strengths.

In addition, the game’s platforming elements, while excellent, suffer from stiffness in the character’s movements. The Prince should be as agile as Altair or Ezio from Assassin’s Creed. He runs along walls, jumps from column to column and even hauls himself up stones sticking out of the side of buildings. Yet, his movements aren’t fluid, which is frustrating after glimpsing the beautiful fluidity of Assassin’s Creed. The Prince, as an agile warrior, simply doesn’t feel as agile as he should be.

However, the platforming itself is still undeniably satisfying and fun. There is a challenge to solving many of the platforming puzzles, and when things are going right, it is an absolute blast to move the Prince along walls, over gaps and down banners. He isn’t as agile as Ezio or Altair, but the platforming elements of The Forgotten Sands are uniformly excellent in design and difficulty. They aren’t too challenging, but were many, many times during the game where I was in awe at the beauty of their implementation into the landscape, and I felt like I had accomplished something when I finished a section.

In addition to the Prince’s standard arsenal of running, jumping and rewinding time, there is also the ability to control elements, in particular, water. This is excellently integrated into the game via waterfalls and fountains. The prince has the ability to freeze water for a period of time, allowing him to run across waterfalls, jump onto the top of a fountain spray and there is also an element of fighting against time as the water effects only last so long, requiring creativity to complete objectives.

Combat is fun, if simplistic. The Prince can jump on top of enemies, kick them over, and attack them with a sword swing. Holding down the attack button leads to a power attack that works well against stronger foes. Everything is easy, which is just fine considering that the strength of Prince of Persia (and the best elements of the game) is the platforming, not the combat.

The Forgotten Sands is an enjoyable platformer that easily brought a smile to my lips numerous times during gameplay. It isn’t perfect, but it is well worth playing.