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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time PlayStation 2

Published by Ubi Soft
Developed by Ubi Soft Montreal Studios
Released: Out Now
Price: £39.99

As games become more and more sophisticated in terms of their graphical detail there are many challenges that games developers must face. Although I am no games developer I would imagine it can prove to be a real nightmare taking a series that was simply superb in it's original 2D format and attempting to translate the exact experience to a 3D game. Since 3D graphics came on the scene we've seen many well loved series bite the dust when the transition has been made. Prince of Persia 3D on PC was one of those that didn't live up to it's 2D prequels. Ubi Soft haven't given up though and thank goodness they didn't because with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, they truly have created a classic.

The game begins with the telling of how the Princes' father, King Shahraman made a calamitous error by attacking an Indian palace as he rode through India with his Persian army. During the attack the King and the Prince are confronted by a traitor to the Maharajah, a Vizier and are told of the great treasure called the Sands of Time. The Prince decides to take it on himself to find this treasure but little does he know that it's a trick and that he is about to unleash havoc. The Vizier simply wants the Dagger of Time to enable him to carry out his own diabolical scheme. The Prince does not know that the Sands of Time are not to be messed with and that it corrupts every thing it touches. Only with the Dagger of Time can the evil Sands of Time be defeated.

The Dagger of Time is indeed a powerful weapon and allows the Prince to do some remarkable things. For instance if he is killed then he has a limited amount of time to simply rewind time and bring himself back to life. The Dagger of Time also has the power to slow down time so you can take your enemies out (kind of bullet time style). Other powers include the Power of Restraint (which can freeze an enemy), the Power of Haste (which stops everything whilst the Prince is given the chance to slaughter multiple enemies without taking damage) and the Power of Destiny (which allows you to have visions of the future). The powers are not limitless though and their use will empty the Dagger of it's magical sand. The sand can only be refilled by collecting sand from defeated sand creatures (animals and humans that have been corrupted by the Sands of Time) and sand clouds. The more you use the Dagger though the more powerful it becomes.

Of course whilst the Dagger of Time is very useful the Prince is not useless without it and has some rather nifty abilities of his own. The Prince can navigate gaps in the floor by simply running on the wall for a short distance. This allows him access to places that no other could reach. He can also leap large expanses and hop from column to column in acrobatic fashion. You'll also see him hang from ledges, do miraculous jumps and flips in the air and pull off an impressive range of attacks. The jumps and traps are retained from the earlier games and the Prince will have to deal with spike traps and revolving blades galore, as well as having to deal with a variety of both human and animal sand creatures. The control system is very good and none of his special moves feel too difficult to perform and as a result you'll just want to keep on playing.

The PlayStation 2 is often thought of as being graphically inferior to both the Xbox and GameCube but time and time again we have seen that it really comes down to the skill of the developers. The Sands of Time looks magnificent on the PlayStation 2 and truly is a work of art. I can honestly say I don't think I've played a better looking game on the console. The lighting and occasional blurring effects are very impressive and not once does the game ever suffer from slowdown, which is an incredible achievement as there are games that look nowhere near as good and have terrible performance. The game even boasts detailed textures which are usually missing on a PlayStation 2 game. The character models again look excellent and animate superbly. In short the game is visually gob smacking.

Well we have ascertained the game truly is a classic but there is one rather large fly in the ointment. For all it's superb gameplay and graphical splendour, it's disappointing to see that the game has no subtitles. Only tutorial messages are shown in text and these will help you learn the controls and techniques that are available to you. None of the cutscenes are subtitled though and to make it slightly worse the game is narrated by the prince in a style that makes it seem as if the events have already occurred, so when you are killed he'll say it didn't happen that way etc. Of course you can still play the game and enjoy it without the story but it takes away from the overall package, which is a shame.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a very impressive addition to the Prince of Persia series. Unlike Prince of Persia 3D it manages to capture the feel of the old 2D games and yet bring new elements to the gameplay too in the shape of the Dagger of Time. The game also includes a special bonus as well. When you complete the game you'll have access to the original Prince of Persia which for most gamers will be reason enough in itself to buy the The Sands of Time. It is a shame that the story is kept from deaf gamers with the lack of subtitles but if you are a fan of the series even this disappointment will not prevent you from enjoying the game.

Overall Game Rating: 8.4/10
The Sands of Time is an excellent addition to the series and only the lack of subtitles puts a dent in the rating. The addition of the original Prince of Persia as an unlockable extra is a very nice touch though.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Again we have a game where the story is kept from deaf gamers because of a lack of subtitles.