by / May 23rd, 2010 /

Prince Of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (X360, PS3)

The Prince Of Persia franchise may have expanded into the realm of Hollywood, with the big budget movie, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, currently in the cinema, but the latest chapter in the un-named Prince’s adventures goes back to basics for an enjoyable action platformer. While 2008’s Prince Of Persia introduced a wealth of new gaming elements to the series, including a free-roaming scenario, The Forgotten Sands harks back to older games in the series, such as 2003’s Sands Of Time.

When he decides to visit his brother, Malik, our hero find’s his brother’s city in the midst of being over-run by invaders. Desperate to halt their progress, Malik unleashes an ancient army, made of the desert sands, but soon finds that the magical hordes are far more dangerous than the human foes they were released to defeat. It’s up to the Prince to halt the progress of the Djinn army and their demonic leader Ratash, who’s one seriously powerful and nasty fireball-hurling individual.

The combat could have been handled better, mind you. When the Prince finds himself confronted by multiple enemies, which happens frequently, it tends to descend into an exercise in button-mashing, but the puzzle solving and platforming more than make up for any defects in the fighting sequences. There’s the usual mixture of wall-running, climbing and column hugging, alongside the ability to rewind time and freeze water, while the game also introduces RPG elements into the mix: our hero garners experience points in battle, which can be exchanged for upgrades, such as stone armour and ice attacks, as well as increased health and magic.

The Forgotten Sands looks beautiful, the voice-acting is top notch and the gameplay has the classic platform appeal that made earlier POP titles so successful. OK, so the plot won’t win any awards for originality and the game’s linear level design does take away the freedom of the open world approach introduced in the most recent title in the series, but once you get past the opening levels (which will carry a strong sense of déjà vu for anyone who played Sands Of Time), this is hugely enjoyable fare, with stunning locations and incredible set-pieces, including a truly memorable sequence set in a giant astronomy tower.