It’s no secret that Prince of Persia’s latest platforming adventure, The Forgotten Sands, was largely forgotten by the consumers. Even for a game that was, technically, a movie tie-in the sales were poor. Combined with Ubisofts typical attitude towards the price of their software (that it should drop and drop quickly) the game hit clearance-shelf level prices fast. While largely panned as a full price title, does POP: TFS have what it takes to make its way into your backlog on the cheap?
The game is full of subtle gems and pitfalls, both literal and non. The combat feels incredibly slow and clunky at the beginning. The first couple of levels had me constantly saying to myself, “For a character that is supposed to be acrobatic, it sure feels like he’s wearing cement shoes.” Luckily this changes drastically after the key plot element, that whole unleashing an army of ancient undead sand zombie demon warriors thing, when the combat stops being a burden and even fun. It won’t be till many upgrades and levels later that a large group of enemies can’t just slash and hack away at you without mercy, but the upgrades do seem to be just a bit ahead of the enemy difficulty and it is very easy to go the entire game without ever dieing due to combat.
In fact there in lies another problem; the game is easy, too easy. Even on the hardest (default) difficulty I only managed to die a couple of times and even then it was often from either an odd camera angle or the sometimes less than accurate controls while jumping from ledge to ledge. It was not uncommon that I would point left, hit jump and then find myself jumping forward or to the right and inevitably to my death. Once the time control element comes into play it becomes easier to avoid death and therefore avoid an aggravating checkpoint restart, but it uses magic and also makes a couple of achievements restart. The most peculiar choices come from the actual controller scheme; rather than using common button layouts that many platformers use, POP switches a few up. The most notable and headache causing is that jumping from one ledge to another is done with LT rather than A, with A always being a jump in the opposite direction of the wall your are hanging from. More than once I jumped to my death when simply meaning to climb up a ledge.
There are however some simply enjoyable parts of the game. While the dialogue, specifically the self-narration gets a little “Spider Man” on us at times, most of it is delivered well and with a bit of “cheeky” humor to it. (For lack of better words) The levels are largely identical in terms of appearance through most of the game, but they flow together absolutely seamlessly in most cases, making for one long game experience rather than the typical “cinematic – level 1 – level 1 complete – cinematic – level 2 – etc.” experience most games offer. Uniformity aside, the game looks good, especially for a “movie tie-in” game, and navigating the world takes just enough timing to be fun. Achievements are easy, and with a little effort, and maybe an item guide, you could easily get all 1000g in one play through. Without making a serious effort you can easily get over 800g in a single play through. The game is short, but in a rare case this feels like a good thing; the length feels appropriate. There isn’t much if any filler to extend the length and nothing feels “left-out” story wise.
In short: The Forgotten Sands is a good time. It’s a quick, easy, but fun platforming romp in ancient Persia full of demon sand warriors to fight. The platforming is solid, the combat only hinders enjoyment in the first couple of levels, and the story, while not about to win any awards, will satisfy. The presentation is not spectacular, but also not lacking and more than fits the need of what the game sets out to accomplish. A great game to pick up and play through in a weekend before trading it in or donating to a friend.
Final Rating: 6/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Approximate Time to Completion: 8-10 hours
Gamer Score Earned: 870g
Price Bought at: $5
Recommend Purchase Price: $5-$10