Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

(1 customer review)


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Complete Review & Description

Prince of Persia. The name alone conjures up fond memories for most gamers, whether they be for the Sands of Time or one of the original games. That said, they weren’t all good. Some, like Prince of Persia 3D, were terrible, while the Warrior Within was considered inferior to most by many reviewers. Which is why it’s fairly odd that we’re looking at a port of that same game, to a platform that is hamstrung by having less power than the original (PS2 / Xbox) hardware and none of the physical controls that the game was designed for.

Still, what’s the worst that can happen?

For the uninitiated, the modern version of Prince of Persia is a third person action adventure game where, through a smart interface, you get to do amazingly athletic things. By running along walls, leaping across giant chasms and battling formiddable enemies, you’re able to right wrongs (often of your own doing; you’re… shall we say complex?) and generally save the day.

Or so the theory goes.

The Sands of Time, the Prince’s heroic return to the forefront of the action adventure genre and, well, relevance, was a success for a reason. It brought together a slick aesthetic, intelligent level design, smart story and incredibly inventive gameplay which was as elegantly executed as it was brilliantly designed. Basically it rocked, hard, and all but turned Lara Croft on her ear. One of the things about that game, however, was the immediacy of the controls; the oh-so-elegant way in which the game interpreted your mashing as a deft run along a wall or an all-too-spry combat manoeuvre that your foe had no chance to avoid.

The thing about the iPad is that it has no physical buttons at all. How could the designers possibly hope to translate a game so reliant on an array of controller input to something so bereft of buttons? You might guess that they couldn’t. If you did, you’d be right. As seems to be the theme with ports to iDevices, Prince of Persia’s control scheme (the now-standard virtual joystick and buttons) is somewhat sub-optimal for a game of this nature.

Far from a meandering pace, the Prince demands a modicum of precision and relative urgency (say, when jumping across a chasm); things which a control mechanic with no tactile response simply does not afford you. Even something so mundane as jumping onto a small mound so that you might run up a wall engenders considerable frustration as you repeatedly fail to do something the original game (now six years old) made seem like child’s play.

That’s not all.

The original title pushed the boundaries of what was possible on PS2, at least a little bit. It was a good looking game that moved at a fair clip and generally held up well to the scrutiny of cynical game reviewers. Six years on, the same cannot be said for its bastard child. Rather than concentrate on what iPad does well, Prince of Persia instead seems to highlight its weaknesses, looking decidedly gaunt and still performing poorly for it. Frequent pauses as the title loads give you an opportunity to assess the awkward way in which the developers have spent their meagre art budget.

It’s not good but it does do some things right; it is still ostensibly Prince of Persia to play. Yes, it looks rubbish and yes, the controls are like trying to race R/C cars with your feet, in the mud, blindfolded, but once you gain a modicum of familiarity with them you can sort of sense a kind of Prince-ish gameplay buried beneath them.

Difficulty, too, is smartly dialed down. Combat, for example, is a relatively frustration-free-ish experience and has clearly been balanced (somewhat) for the sub-optimal controls on offer.

It’s not even very expensive so it’s hard to feel too hard done by; just don’t expect too much and you won’t be (as) disappointed when you play it. It will leave you wondering how cool a Prince of Persia that was designed around the capabilities of the platform might have been, though.


1 review for Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

  1. Talian

    Very challenging game.

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