Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was a landmark game. Not just for platform and action games, but for me personally. This was the first game of only two games I have ever rented, beat the game and then once I was done, went out and bought the game. On the whim of a commercial I thought was interesting, I decided to give it a go. Once the game had ended and I was treated to one of the greatest end credits songs I have ever listened to, I immersed myself into this universe. I spent the next years of my life following the series, following the voice actors' careers and waiting for news on sequels. I own the soundtrack; I constantly quote lines from it. Bottom line, this series changed my life as a gamer. So coming into it, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands comes from a legacy of great games, so it is natural that it has big shoes to fill. Ubisoft had a great task ahead of them. Sadly, it is not on the same level of playing The Sands of Time, but it is still good to see that the Prince from that story hasn't lost his touch.
Story wise, The Forgotten Sands acts as an interquel between The Sands of Time and Warrior Within. During those seven years, the Prince decides to drop in on his brother, Malik's, kingdom for some training at the request of their father. However he arrives while his brother is in the midst of fending off an invading army. Hoping to turn the tide of battle in his favor, he decides to release the power of King Solomon's Army hoping they will fight in his favor. What he gets are sand monsters that ransack him kingdom and turning all of its inhabitants into statues. So, the Prince is given the monumental task of saving the kingdom and driving back the monstrous army.
Driving this story is a wonderful voice cast. The characters do not phone it in. Returning as the voice of the Prince, Yuri Lowenthal is a wonderful inclusion for this story. He was the Prince in the Sands of Time and The Two Thrones, and he still takes to this role as a natural. The Prince is a sarcastic warrior and his Spider-Man like characteristics also return with him talking to himself of the situations he has gotten himself into and reminiscing of his previous adventure. Also the interaction he has with his brother is portrayed quite well. There is a chemistry with these two characters, and you honestly believe their performances as brothers.
The platforming here is as good as ever. The Prince comes this time around with a slew of new powers and they make the normal platforming sections a whole lot more challenging. The Prince can now do things such as freezing water to form areas to perform acrobatic feats on, recall sections of the map that are no longer there, and even at times...fly. The game at first will hold your hand when introducing the new powers, but once you get further in the game, platforming areas will incorporate all of these powers for the sections. As with these new power platforming areas, there are also the iconic trap-filled corridors that the Prince must maneuver his way through. Luckily, these areas are just regulated to about three hallways intervals. The Prince finally needed a break from all the traps. The platforming is tough, and there will be many of times that these sections will be a case of trial and error. Thankfully, an old staple of the Prince's arsenal is back. Rewinding time comes in handy for the platforming. There is no cute princess that will save you every time, so the Prince is once again a mortal being and prone to death. The platforming areas when you have to use all the powers you have learned are quite inventive and take some thinking at times. There was multiple times where I would rewind in frustration for not getting it right. And there were few occasions where I found myself crying out to my screen how I was suppose to past a certain part. It is not that these areas are broken; it just showed me that I needed to calm down and try different acrobatic tactics that I would rarely think of. It takes some serious critical thinking to get past some of the game's later areas. When you are staring down a long platforming sequence and you have no more rewinds in the chamber, your brain does tend to tread a bit more cautiously. Now, while rewinding time hasn't really changed, I did find at times that the power had a mind of its own. There were several times where I would activate the power, and once I released the button for it to stop, it would continue to rewind it against my will.
Combat has seemed to have taken a step down this time around for the Prince. It is still fun at times, but not the great aspect of the game it use to be. Combat has been downgraded to what feels like a standard button masher. It use to be a lot more fluid than what is offered in The Forgotten Sands. The Prince's actions feel to have substantially more weight to them and sword strikes aren't as fast this time around. The dexterous fighting moves of Warrior Within and The Two Thrones such spinning on one hand while slashing at the ankles of your foes with your sword are gone. And they are sadly missed. I would have enjoyed to see those kind of moves rendered on current-gen systems. But the Prince does come with new fighting moves, namely in the form of elemental powers. The Prince can call forth the power of wind to know foes downs, create a stream of ice that can shatter through an enemy's defenses, encase himself in impenetrable stone armor and call forth fire from his feet that can ignite them on fire. These powers are quite useful when surrounded by a horde of King Solomon's soldiers; especially when fighting bosses. But it would have been nice to also see The Prince keep some of his fancier sword techniques. It seems despite the Prince's dislike of magic, he has traded in some of his sword techniques for magical attacks and defenses.
The look of The Forgotten Sands is a mixed bag. Environments vary in looks and aren't stagnant. There is also a wide arrange of colors, from what you would expect from a kingdom in the middle of a desert, to a lush green-filled garden within that kingdom. Character models look amazing. There is quite a bit of detail for each of the main ones especially with the Prince's brother. His armor really does look fit for a king. However, the water effects here are quite drab, especially with how much emphasis there is in this game. When the Prince gets wet, you only see the same sheet of water fall of his head, while the rest of his body looks curiously dry, despite coming from under a waterfall.
Ubisoft felt the need the re-open the Sands of Time storyline and this is mainly for the fans of that series. The core platforming mechanics are back and they are better than ever and provide an exceptional for the most vetted Prince of Persia players. We have the original Prince driving the story and it is always good to hear his voice. However, the combat has seen better days, and graphics are kind of hit and miss at times. Still, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is enjoyable and fans of this series will enjoy it.