Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft.  Release on December 2, 2008, PoP marks the beginning of a new trilogy in the series.  It establishes a new story with a new cast of characters and stands in stark visual contrast to the games preceding it.

The story opens with an unnamed man venturing across the desert with his treasure laden donkey, Farah.  A sandstorm erupts and soon the "Prince" is separated from his fortune.  He then finds himself in a mysterious ancient kingdom.  He soon meets the princess of the kingdom, Elika.  Elika has been resurrected by her father, the king.  As a result, an ancient evil by the name of Ahriman has awoken and corrupted the land.  The Prince and Elika must heal the corrupted land in order to seal Ahriman.

The game world is broken up into multiple zones with four distinct areas.  Each area is guarded by one of Ahriman's generals, the Hunter, Concubine, Alchemist and Warrior King.  To heal the lands, the Prince and Elika must traverse the world and defeat the respective general guarding the Fertile Grounds.  Healing the grounds revitalizes the world around it, changing the drab lifeless environment to one teeming with vibrant color.

Visually speaking, Prince of Persia is nothing short of a work of art.  It is absolutely breath taking in its scope and beauty.  From start to finish, it was an absolute joy to experience this world.  The game makes use of cel-shaded graphics to a degree I've never seen before.  You would be doing yourself a disservice by not experiencing this radiant example of game design.

The game plays very similar to recent games in the series.  There is an incredible amount of free running and platforming to do.  Fortunately, it has been made incredibly easy to do and everyone can experience the joy of watching the Prince and Elika gracefully dance through the world.  The two of them must work in tandem to navigate the many varied environments in the game.  To progress, your runs must be perfect.  There is no room for error if you wish to advance.  Fortunately, if you do make a wrong move, Elika will always be there to save the Prince.  She will literally pull him from the brink of death.

This also applies to the many battles the two of them will find themselves in.  Much like the way they traverse the environment, the Prince and Elika move with a grace and beauty that make them terrible to behold in the eyes of their enemies.  Combat is combo based with the Prince using sword and grab attacks, Elika using magic and the two of them performing mesmerizing acrobatic maneuvers.

The only low to the game is the ending.  I don't want to spoil it for you, but it leaves you wanting more.  More in a good way, but the wait in between games is making me nervous about the future of this series.  The game was released in 2008 and it's been nearly three years at the time of this review.  There hasn't been any mention of a sequel and that would be an absolute tragedy if this story remained unfinished.

This entry in the Prince of Persia stands as a pinnacle in gaming.  In my mind, it joins the ranks of such classics like Shadow of the Colossus and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.  It is a requirement to play this if you enjoy the art form that is gaming.  So do yourself a favor, immerse yourself in the fantastically crafted world.