After a very successful run on the last generation of consoles, Prince of Persia has been reimagined for the current generation. At the same time, Ubisoft also hoped to make some bold new inroads on portables as well, an area that’s always been underserved by the Prince. This strategy began with Prince of Persia: The Fallen King.
I was very torn on Prince of Persia: The Fallen King. They tried to do some new things, and they succeeded on some accounts. However, after all is said and done, the mistakes add up to make this a really bad game. Let’s take a closer look.
Prince of Persia: The Fallen King looks very bright. The backgrounds are sharp and look like Persia far more than the recent PoP game does. Therefore, it’s a shame that the Prince looks so blobby. Oh, sure, he’s animated well, but that’s because there’s no detail in him or his wizard friend Zal. None of the enemies, like the corrupted guards that you fight frequently, look very clear at all. I couldn’t tell what I was killing half of the time. Man, I hated the music in Prince of Persia: The Fallen King. It’s hard to describe. It’s droning, boring garbage. Maybe if the rest of the game would have been more atmospheric, it would have added to it. Instead, it just ended up bothering me. The other sounds fare a little better, but this is by far the worst music I’ve heard in a game for a long, long time.
Like most people, I have two feet. I use these feet for a variety of tasks, from walking to running to tapping out a beat to my favorite song (currently “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes). In other words, they are very useful and I enjoy having them.
While I like the use of my feet, they have a very limited skill set. For instance, I am unable to eat with my feet. I cannot breathe with my feet. I cannot use a scissors with my feet. If I would try, the results would be disastrous, messy and, more than likely, very painful.
This brings us to Prince of Persia: The Fallen King. The touchscreen on the DS has a very limited skill set, but within simple constraints, it works very well and can enhance many games. However, this review is serving as a notice to developers everywhere. I want you all to pay attention carefully, because what I am about to say will help you enormously: Just because the DS has a touch screen doesn’t mean you have to use it exclusively for every task ever. I know you like the touch screen, but seriously, it just does not work for every game.
For instance, holding the stylus in front of the Prince makes him run or walk, depending on how far in front of him it is. Here’s the kicker: When he runs up to a gap, he doesn’t automatically jump. No, he HANGS OFF THE EDGE. To make him jump, you have to tap the area of the platform you want him to jump to, and sometimes you happen to hit the correct area to make him jump and sometimes you don’t.
This happens a lot: Sometimes the controls will work great, like when you’re making the Prince scurry up a wall. Most times, they’re so head-slappingly awful that you can’t even imagine who thought of this idea. They result in constant frustrating deaths that sap all enjoyment out of this game. Prince of Persia is supposed to be a game of precision and timing. It needs to be played with face buttons. End of story.
Prince of Persia: The Fallen King is very repetitive. In each level, you need to get to the end of the level. Maybe you fight a boss, maybe you flip a switch, or maybe you just run into a pillar of light that signifies the end. Along the way, you kill corrupted guards, avoid sawblades and learn new abilities.
The most frustrating thing about the gameplay in Fallen King is that there are flashes of brilliance. There are moments when you do a puzzle and think, “Wow! They put some good thought into that!” Then, the puzzle gets followed by YET ANOTHER area where you’re trapped until you can kill X amount of guards by tapping on them until they fall over. I mean, what gives?
Still, they did so some things right. There are checkpoints sprinkled about liberally throughout the levels so that once you pass a particularly frustrating area, you come across a checkpoint almost immediately. While this is great, it makes me wonder: If they knew that a certain area was extremely frustrating, why didn’t they fix it? The whole game smacks of a rush job that would have been better with a little bit more forethought and planning.
There are coins sprinkled throughout each level. You probably won’t be able to gather them all on your first pass through, so you can revisit the levels with newfound powers. The coins can open up doors to other areas, so you might want to get them all. There are also treasure chests in each level, and getting all of the chests in a level confers new abilities, like increased health. It’s nice, but since the controls are so bad and the levels so uninspired, you probably aren’t going to care.