Prince of Persia®: The Sands of Time
Developer: Kudosoft | Publisher: Ubisoft | Release Date: 2003 | Genre: Action / Adventure | Website: n/a | Purchase: Steam
After two excellent games in the series it was surprising how long it took the prince to star in a 3rd adventure. What’s even more surprising is that they even considered making a fourth game after the abysmal failure that was Prince Of Persia 3D. Thankfully they did though, as with Sands Of Time the slate is wiped clean and the series is firmly back on track. Sands of Time kicks off in medieval Persia as the prince helps his father attack an Indian Maharaja’s castle with the help of a traitorous vizier. Striving to prove his honor and bravery the prince retrieves a magical dagger from the castle’s vault. Amongst the spoils of war is also a huge hourglass housing the “sands of time” which, along with the captured Indian princess, Farrah, is carted back to Persia. Disaster strikes along the way when the party stops for a visit at a fellow noble’s castle and the prince inadvertently releases the sands of time transforming everybody in the castle except himself, Farrah and the vizier into slavering sand monsters. Now with the aid of his incredible acrobatic skills, his former enemy Farrah and the magical dagger the prince must right his wrongs and undo the damage wrought by the dagger. This job is made considerably easier when he discovers that the dagger controls time itself.
The first ever Prince of Persia only required you to escape a dungeon alive and save the princess, but Sands of Time is a lot more complex and engrossing. This time round the entire castle with its many tricks and traps are there to be explored and the princess is usually right next to you kicking ass in battle. I don’t quite know where Sands Of Time fits into the series’ time line, but since it’s so enjoyable it doesn’t matter. Besides the original games came out so long ago few of today’s gamers will probably even recall how revolutionary they were for their time much less their plots.
Graphically SOT is amazing and with the right hardware you’ll wander through the corridors of the castle with a perpetual slack jaw. This game may have its roots on console, but there are so many cool details and cutting edge animations it’s almost bursting at the seams.
Since the original games were renowned for their incredibly lifelike animations it’s only fitting that SOT continues this fine tradition with some of the most fluid and impressive animation’s I’ve ever seen in a game. The prince is more agile than a monkey and you’ll have plenty of chances to check out just how nimble he is, whether it’s in combat against multiple foes or simply while dodging traps, running up walls or swinging from ledges. This is one of those games where words simply can’t do it justice and you’ll have to play it for yourself to appreciate just how stunning everything looks. One castle might not sound like much, but the game is filled with cool areas, indoor and outside, which will dazzle your eyes with their beauty. The creatures you fight also sport pretty mean designs and having the beautiful Farrah tagging along doesn’t hurt the eyes either. If there’s a fly in the ointment it has to be the camera which is incredibly fiddly at times and despite three different view styles can still be very obtrusive especially in confined spaces. Its’ something you learn to live with but still…
Every game needs its gimmick to set it apart and SOT has one of the coolest since Max Payne gave us bullet-time. With the dagger in his possession the prince can manipulate time itself, allowing for slow-motion, freezing enemies, looking into the future and rewinding time. You need sand to replenish it so it’s not something you can abuse, but rewinding time when you make a mistake is an awesome idea and gives you a lot more freedom to try out stuff. Since you can only save at certain spots you’ll treasure every chance you have to rewind time, but it all adds to the incredibly cinematic feeling this game has. If you thought shooting baddies in slow motion was cool wait until you cut them in half with a large sword or leap over their backs and slash them from behind. The amazing visuals coupled with the awesome animations and the time slowing effects all adds up to one great looking game. Add in some excellent lighting effects, cool particles and well you get the idea by now I’m sure.
Gameplay is basically split up into combat, acrobatics and some minor puzzle solving. Battles usually have you surrounded by hordes of sand creatures all slobbering to get at you so blocking, jumping and dodging plays an important role during combat. Having Farrah to protect at times also adds to the challenge, but usually just when you think you can’t possibly face another enemy the combat is over and you can continue with your quest. While there are some tricky puzzles involving levers, switches and light beams the most challenging aspect of the game is usually just making your way from one point to the next. With the castle falling apart around you normal progress is impossible, forcing the prince to perform gravity defying leaps and daredevil stunts just to reach the next exit. The game has such a huge sense of scale that some of the heights will literally give you vertigo. The controls take some getting used to at first as the prince is incredibly acrobatic as I already mentioned and knowing when and where to perform all those skills can be tricky. You’ll be running along walls, jumping from pillars and vaulting across gaps in no time however, and this is one of those games where it’s almost as much fun to watch as it is to play. Unless you have a fear of heights that is…
Another area where the game excels is the audio and the eastern sounding tunes fit the game perfectly. The game is mostly silent, which adds to the haunting, desolate feel of the castle, but during combat some rocking riffs kicks in and during adrenaline fueled moments the pace also picks up. Voice acting is pretty good and I laughed out loud a few times thanks to the conversations the prince has with Farrah. Torn between falling in love with her and not trusting her (the prince is after all responsible for the attack on her home and her capture) you’ll hear plenty of monologues the prince has with himself trying to figure out what to do next. The game also has some neat twists that will make you sit back and go “cool!”
I could go on and on how much I enjoyed this game (despite some minor niggles) but the bottom line is this is one of my favorite games of all time and if you love a good game you’re likely to feel the same. Unfortunately Tomb Raider will never be the same again after this.
*Review originally published in 2003.
- Supported OS:Windows® 2000/XP (only)
- Processor:800 MHz Pentium® III or AMD Athlon™
- System Memory:256 MB of RAM
- Video Card:64 MB GeForce™ 3 or higher, or ATI® Radeon™ 8500 or higher, Matrox Parhelia™. (GeForce4 MX not supported)
- Sound Card:DirectX® 9.0 or higher compliant sound card
- DirectX Version:DirectX® version 9.0c or higher
- Hard Disk:1.5 GB available hard disk space
- Supported Peripherals:ThrustMaster FIRESTORM Dual Analog 3
- Note: For an up-to-date list of supported chipsets, video cards, and operating systems, please visit the FAQ for this game at: http://support.ubi.com.