Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within
Posted 27 February 2005 - 10:00 PM
Arriving only a scant year after the phenomenal Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within had some big shoes to fill even before its release. Placing the emphasis on a darker theme, and in the process negating the Persia element of the name, Warrior Within was released. The Prince, the returning nameless protagonist from The Sands of Time, now returns in this adventure with the elevated goal of not dying. Since he was supposed to die in The Sands of Time, The Prince is now hunted by fate itself in the form of a terrifying creature called the Dahaka. Years after his adventure in TSoT, he now travels to the Island of Time to find the Empress of Time in order to stop the Sands of Time from being made. As you can tell, time is very important in Warrior Within.
If you played the previous game, this will be pretty similar, as the two play much alike. Don’t expect any real innovation or improvements a la Halo 2, this is pretty much the same game as last year repackaged with a new lighting direction. Ubisoft heard the complaints about the fighting in the previous game, and I can safely say that it has in fact been greatly improved. Despite the PoP series having never been about fighting, it is now. While the game plays mostly the same as the previous one, there have been some changes aside from the fighting engine. There has been less of an emphasis on the adventure aspects of the game, which is a big letdown, and the improved fighting and fighting engine does not nullify that letdown. While the camera in the previous game was great, I found myself fighting with it more than anything. I’ve made lots of blind jumps, fallen off cliffs, and generally fallen to my death due to a very annoying camera. The difficulty has also been ramped up, and enemies will now viciously rush and attack you when you’re down, causing an increase in death as well as frustration.
That Mature rating on the box seems to stand for “desperate attempt to appeal to a more mainstream audience and gain more sales”, because the game could’ve easily been rated Teen like the previous one. The violence is upped with decapitations, blood, and an odd amount of strange S&M sex appeal, which is apparent even in the game’s first cutscene which features a girl wearing a thong that has been apparently been absorbed by her butt. I personally don’t see a need for all these “Mature” themes, as it doesn’t do anything other than further remove yourself from the Prince of Persia experience. In fact, the game doesn’t even feel like a PoP game, you’re not in Persia and the Middle Eastern themes are gone entirely, all of which just help the game’s downward spiral into a generic action/adventure game.
You’re still running along walls and slicing up enemies, but none of it feels fresh. The game simply lacks the charm that made the previous one so great. The enemies require more strategy and the traps are more varied as well. Boss fights are another new addition, and occasionally you’ll be battle a giant boss, which proves to be somewhat challenging and does offer a nice sense of variation. Unfortunately the character development is poor and, despite the Prince’s angst ridden journey to save himself, it leaves you feeling detached and generally not caring about him or any of the other shallow characters. Being chased by the Dahaka offers an immense amount of tension, causing your adrenaline to race, which I found to be a highlight of the game. However, Warrior Within also contains something which is pretty much blasphemy as far as game design goes: backtracking. There is a lot of backtracking in Warrior Within and many times I found myself lost and/or frustrated. Most times you’ll have to backtrack to change the time period from the past to present or vice versa, and this feature is more annoying than innovative. The linear adventure the previous game presented was immensely more satisfying than this one.
The graphics looks pretty much the same as the first one, but all the artistic flair of the first one has been removed for this darker adventure. The environments are darker and more brooding, but that really isn’t what Prince of Persia is about. The textures and technical aspects of the graphics are all pretty well done, but they are barely an improvement over the first one.
The Prince still is very well animated, since it’s basically the same animations as the previous game with a few new enhancements. The character design as a whole is a letdown as well, there’s just nothing special or charming about it. Moods presented by levels aren’t varied, as they’re mostly just dark and boring. Certain parts of the game do look stunning, such as the garden levels, but I would’ve liked to see more of these. The majority of the levels still present an exaggerated nature and look decent overall, but the lack of a Middle Eastern theme is disappointing.
I’ll come out and say it right now, the audio in this game is bad and doesn’t fit with the gameplay at all. If you’ve ever played Dynasty Warrior or Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders and have encountered badly matched soundtracks with generic rock, add PoP: WW to the list. The game now features Godsmack for no apparent reason, possibly to appeal to the MTV generation audience, or maybe just to annoy you and make you think you’re playing Prince of Suburbia: Angsty Warrior. Regardless of that, I don’t like it and it doesn’t fit. At all. A Middle Eastern themed soundtrack like the previous games would’ve been greatly appreciated, because it’s called Prince of Persia for a reason. The music is full of generic and boring guitar riffs, a natural sideeffect Godsmack’s involvement, which just further takes you out of the experience. While the music is bad, the sound effects are pretty much the same, and your favorite clangs and slashes are all here, which helps add to the experience that the music tries so hard to take you out of. One good thing is that subtitles have been included in this version. The voicework, being the other big part of audio, is also unfortunately a letdown. The main characters’ voices are functional, but overall unsatisfactory. Random enemies will blurt stupid one-liners at you, and the Prince sounds far too angst-ridden. The dialogue in general just sounds much too forced, as does the rest of the audio of Warrior Within.
Keeping the controls pretty much the same was pretty smart, as the controls of PoP were and are excellent. With the advanced fighting system, however, some things don’t work as well as they should have. Some of the new fighting moves are clunky and take a bit of getting used to. You no longer have to jump into a wall to bounce off it for an attack, you just run up to it and hit an attack button, which may be easier and more seamless, but it also presents many opportunities for mistakes. In more than one occasion I’ve found myself trying to slash an enemy only for The Prince to bounce off the wall and fly off an edge. Overall the controls just feel a bit too clunky.
Left Trigger - Use sand powers
Right Trigger - Block
Left Thumbstick - Move
Right Thumbstick - Rotate camera
B - Kick
X - Attack
Y - Use/action
Black - First person view
White - Landscape view (see everything)
The game itself is a bit longer than the first, but it isn’t anywhere near as fun. A lot of frustration, accompanied by tediousness and quite a bit of trial and error, makes replaying this a low priority on your ‘things to do’ list. The lack of charm, along with many other little things, makes replaying the main game something I wouldn’t recommend. However, in a Ninja Gaiden-esque move, Ubisoft has included two Xbox exclusive modes: Time Attack and Arena Combat. Time Attack is just what it sounds like, you race through the levels and post your high scores online via Xbox Live. Arena Combat is essentially a survival mode where you post your scores online. Downloadable content is supported, but as of yet nothing has been released. Adding replay value in the form of online play is a step in the right direction, but neglecting the main journey to add it isn’t.
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within is simply a disappointment, especially when compared to its predecessor. The main adventure mode has too many flaws, all of which keep it from being as fun as it could’ve been. The graphics are the same as they were last year, and the new “darker” style that has been taken is just plain bad. Adding to that is awful and unfitting music that serves only to take you out of the mood. The fighting scheme and replay value have been improved, but it’s far too little to save this game. Warrior Within is a letdown in too many ways. One of the biggest problems is the large amount of glitches, which include graphical and audio glitches, freezing, certain things not happening, which don't allow you to progress, and so on. I'm amazed by the vast amount of glitches that this game made it out the door. If you really want a good action/adventure game, you’d be better off sticking to The Sands of Time or the phenomenal Beyond Good & Evil, both of which are be cheaper and more satisfying than Warrior Within. Let’s hope Ubisoft invests some more time in their next game, for all our sakes, and the sake of this once great series.
Gameplay - 8.3
Graphics - 7.6
Audio - 6.2
Controls - 8.7
Replay - 8.5
Overall - 7.8
Posted 28 November 2005 - 02:24 AM
Edited by Death In Darkness, 28 November 2005 - 02:27 AM.
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