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TGS 08: Hands-on with Ubisoft's gorgeous Prince of Persia

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Surprise number one: Microsoft's Xbox 360 booth at Tokyo Game Show this year is hopping. No, I didn't count heads; but by the looks of things, Microsoft seems to be attracting as many people, if not more, than Sony. 

Surprise number two: outside of the huge area for Square Enix's The Last Remnant, Ubisoft's upcoming Prince of Persia had one of the longer waits before you could get your hands on the controller. Standing in line waiting to play, I struck up a conversation with a Japanese citizen, a producer at Sandlot, the folks behind the B-movie-excellent Earth Defense Force 2010. While he said he was a fan of Ubisoft's Prince of Persia series, he said the titles weren't very popular in Japan, but something about this new title had caught the attention of quite a few. 

Hit the jump for our first hands-on impressions of Ubisoft's gorgeous new title in the series, simply called Prince of Persia

Visually, Prince of Persia is gorgeous; yesterday, Chad posted video of the Tokyo Game Show trailer, and I can confirm that it looks just as beautiful when being played. The title truly is a beautiful painting brought to life, with fluid animation, and subtle details in the world like lines of wind or fluttering butterflies. When the action is up close and tight, you can see some jagged edges in the dark outlines of objects; but when the camera pans out, you could swear you were looking at a piece of concept art.

The playable demo area showed a good mix of combat and platforming, with more of a focus on the latter. Making the Prince hop and jump should feel familiar to anyone who's played the previous titles, and the environments are set up in such a way as they act as puzzles in and of themselves -- the challenge lies in not only finding the proper path through the wide open areas, but executing well-time jumps and such. 

While playing, you're followed by an A.I. controlled companion, Elika. While Ubisoft ran the risk of having her be a slightly obnoxious addition that requires constant babysitting (see: ICO), that's not the case at all. Elika is quite capable on her own, following behind and keeping up as you jump, climb, and shimmy. In the demo there was never a need to help her along, in terms of platforming; outside animations like the Prince putting her on his back while he climbs, or automatically reaching to grab her hand and help her up, she was completely self-sufficient.

Elika does serve a purpose, and that's of course to help the player move through the world, among other things. By pressing the "Y" button mid-jump, Elika will teleport to your position, swinging the Prince to reach a far out location. This came in to play more than a few times, as many areas were unreachable without her help.

Using Elika, the game has a curious checkpoint system, as well. There didn't seem as if there was any way to "die" during the platforming sections platforming. If I made misstep and fell from a height, the game would quickly cut to a close-up of Elika reaching out her hand to grab the Prince, teleporting me back to a safe area. The transition from the potential death to safely happens quickly, and provides a good way to keep the player in the game, rather than showing a black screen or "game over" text.

There were a few areas of combat as well, which unfortunately seem to be the weakest aspect of Prince of Persia. While Warrior Within and Two Thrones embraced action, bringing deeper combat to the simpler framework of Sands of Time, this new title seems to go back to some basics. One button made the Prince attack, one would allow you to juggle an enemy in the air, and one button was used to guard.

All of the battles played out essentially the same: I'd tap A to unleash a flurry of combos, sometimes tossing in a juggle for good measure. Every once in awhile, I would get knocked back, and a quick time event would appear -- press X to dodge an enemies strike, or rapidly tap A to win a sword clash. Elika also comes into play, and you can order her to unleash flashy attacks by tapping a button. 

I'm a bit skeptical that what I played on the TGS floor could carry the entire game; I'd hoped that the combat would have been more fleshed out. Still, there's no reason to think that Prince of Persia won't in the very least be a solid action-platformer experience. Plus, anything this easy on the eyes can't be that bad, can it?

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Nick Chester
Nick ChesterFormer Editor-in-Chief (2011)   gamer profile

Editor-in-Chief @ Destructoid.com nick at destructoid.com  more + disclosures


 


 



Filed under... #Previews #PS3 #Tokyo Game Show #Xbox 360

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