Jul 17, 2008
One of the most startling changes to a franchise at E3 is the change in art style and overall direction of the Prince of Persia franchise. Ubisoft was on hand to demo the game in one on one walk throughs. My first question to the Ubisoft representative was regarding the decision to the changes made to the game’s art style and visuals. The PoP team wanted to try something new while remaining loyal to core fans of the franchise. From what I saw in my 20 minute demo the latest PoP is going to be the most enjoyable PoP to date.
The first change you’ll notice is the new modified cel shaded art style. The Prince, Elika, the environments all have a unique look about them in a cartoon esque format but it looks oh so good. The world is now completely open. Off in the distance in the demo level there is a wind mill that appears faint because it is so far away, but in a few jumps over you’ll be standing right on top of it.
The next big change is that Prince has a new side kick named Elika who will follow you around the entire game without getting in your way. Elika serves as a support character in a variety of situations. Sometimes you’ll need to do a team jump to in order to reach distant places that you can’t reach alone. Enemies will have dark corruption armor on them that only Elika can pierce with her magic and so you’ll need to seamlessly change characters to her to destroy it. When a boss is defeated Elika’s energy can cleanse a region of the corruption and it’s one of the most beautiful transformation you’ve ever seen. You’ll have an entire dark section go into the light. Grass will grow, flowers with bloom, and butterflies will roam the skies. However, Elika’s best support attribute is that she’ll save you from dying. Miss a ledge? No problem! Die in a boss fight? Instant rebirth thanks to Elika’s magic. No longer will you start far away from where you died in a PoP game, you’ll be tossed right back into the action. If you were fighting an enemy it will be at the penalty of the enemy regaining health but the gameplay experience is never broken by death. No, sorry you’re dead continue screens in PoP.
Prince of Persia also makes excellent use of vertical game play. All over the dark world there are black blobs called the corruption creeping around and you need get around these. Some of the platforming becomes pretty interesting because of this blobs. In one sequence you’re required to get to a ledge below you but the wall down is occupied by corruption. The Prince has a new feature on his hand that allows him to gripfall all the way down. The gripfall allows you control over the Prince as you slide down vertically to the next platform.
There are also major changes in combat. In prior PoP games you were faced sometimes with daunting odds against you. In the latest PoP game fights will never be more than 1 enemy at a time. But of course, the enemies are stronger and smarter than before. You are also given access to a push ability so if you’re facing a really difficult foe you may be able to help yourself out by using the pushing ability to push them over a ledge. You can upgrade the Prince’s abilities and buy items using the in game currency named lightsies. There’s also a deep collecting aspect to the game. Once Elika converts a portion of the world back to light all the areas that were once corruption are transformed into lightsies which you can collect. Also, new secret or previously inaccessible areas are opened by freeing the world of the dark corruption.
The new twist on the Prince of Persia franchise and the new more user friendly game play and stunning original art style have got me hooked. This one is due out on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC this holiday.