Within the timeline of Prince of Persia (POP) games, Forgotten Sands is placed sometime after the events of Sands of Time and before Warrior Within. The Prince is sent on a quest by his father to seek training from his brother Malik. However, after arriving at his destination the Prince finds out that his training will have to wait since his brother’s palace is under invasion from a large group of raiders. In a desperate attempt to turn the tide of the battle, Malik releases the power of King Solomon’s army and inadvertently unleashes the sand army. From here on end it is pretty much business as usual for the Prince— fighting sand-monsters, negotiating traps and ravines, and scaling dizzy heights.
Marches and the battles
The Prince gets his powers over the elements and time through a piece of a medallion lodged in his breastplate. Along with the series-staple ability to reverse time, the medallion also allows the Prince to solidify water. Using this ability to control flow of water, the Prince can shimmy over waterfalls or use pillars of water to get around. Further into the adventure, the Prince encounters a crumbled and ruined city and here the medallion has the ability to ‘repair’ broken pillars and missing chunks of floor. Finally, the medallion allows the Prince to trust himself vertically over small distance, which is a toned-down version of the flying ability from the last POP game. All of these new abilities combine with old techniques to deliver a fairly fresh and challenging platforming experience.
Combat on the other hand is a quite mundane due to a bare-minimum, hack-n-slash system with magic thrown in for crowd control. There are a handful of enemy types in this game; however they are all slow and lumbering, adding very little to the challenge. It is quite common in the game to be outnumbered and flanked by enemies on all sides. But even in such situations magic can be used to quickly and effectively turn the tide of the battle in your favour.
Fallen enemies and smashed pottery leave behind collectible coloured orbs. Red orbs regenerate health, blue orbs refill the magic gauge and yellow orbs can be used to purchase combat and magic upgrades.
Sequences of combat and platforming are interspersed with puzzles that are mostly about pushing levers in the correct sequence. Any POP game cannot be complete without traps and this game has a few old and some new traps to negotiate.
A familiar fable
From the very first level, right to the end of the game, Forgotten Sands feels like a tribute or a compilation of the first three games in the ‘Sands’ saga. While it was nice to see the developers returning to the original setting and reverting on the attempt to reboot the franchise, Forgotten Sands is a bit too much like its predecessors. This game has picked up elements from all the POP games thus far and added just a couple of new ideas that really affect game-play. Story-wise, this game is of little consequence since we already know what follows after this in Warrior Within and Two Thrones. Moving the storyline forward—instead of filling up gaps—could have been more prudent choice as it may have given developers more freedom with game-design and players more satisfaction at the end of it all.
On the first play-through the game can last between seven to ten hours depending on your platforming skills and more importantly, familiarity with POP games. After beating the game, you have the option to play the game all over again with all the unlocked upgrades carried over to the new game. Besides this, beating the game also unlocks challenge mode against waves to enemies.
Game-play in Forgotten Sands is an infinite improvement over the last outing; however it is nowhere close to the bar set by Sands of Time. While the setting of this game was ripe to relive the greatness of the original game, it falls short mainly due to weak storytelling, combat and music.
Genre: Action, Adventure
*Platforms: PC (MS Windows), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable
PC (MS Windows):Rs. 699/-
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360: Rs. 2499/-
Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable: Rs. 1499/-
*Reviewed on Xbox 360