There's little disagreement regarding 2003's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time as the series' best overall game of the modern era. The title was able to successfully combine gorgeous environments, intuitive gameplay, and innovative time-control elements that made for a truly memorable experience.
Since 2003, we've seen the franchise go in several different directions, most recently last year's self-titled Prince of Persia game where we were treated to a different art style and female companion.
This week Ubisoft released the latest game in the series, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. Though it has absolutely no connection to the movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, the game reminds us most of what the film was adapted from, The Sands of Time. In fact, The Forgotten Sands takes place during the seven-year gap between it and Warrior Within, so it's clear that the intention of the game was to revisit some of the franchise's earlier roots. We looked at the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version of the game; Wii, DS, and PSP have an alternate version.
Aside from just being able to manipulate time, the Prince is now able to use the power of the elements to make his way through the environments of The Forgotten Sands. He can use these core powers for special abilities like freezing flowing water in order to climb it.
In terms of gameplay, we found The Forgotten Sands to resemble a lot of what we loved about The Sands of Time: satisfying controls complemented by excellent puzzle designs that gradually increase in complexity, keeping the game moving along at a smooth pace. The combat system is different from games past, as it completely abandons any sort of blocking mechanic and instead opts for rewarding consecutive hits. The Prince can also use special moves (that will deplete a magic meter) that can be purchased and upgraded through gaining experience points.
The Forgotten Sands shouldn't take an average player more than 7 hours to complete, which falls a bit on the shallow side compared with other games in the series. We really enjoyed the deliberate allusion to The Sands of Time game and think any fan of the original would enjoy the Prince's latest adventure. There are enough new abilities and powers here to freshen things up a bit, just don't expect much in terms of a compelling story.
Of course, we're not sure how much longer this rehashing of a classic game can continue. The Forgotten Sands ultimately feels more like a throwback than a true evolution, so next time around the Prince better impress or things will get stale quick.
For a live demo of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, be sure to check out.