Prince of Persia: Warrior Within Review

The Prince of Persia series is one of the longest-running series in computer gaming today.  The original PoP dates back to the original Apple II PC.  It sported fluid animations for the prince that were unheard of at the time.  The original game spawned a sequel, but the franchise seemed dead after the release of Prince of Persia 3D.

Ubi Soft resurrected the franchise with PoP: The Sands of Time.  While PoP 3D was combat heavy, PoP: SoT focused on navigating around traps through lush environments with fluid combat against multiple enemies.  PoP: SoT received critical acclaim and Game of the Year nods from several publications.

Now the Prince is back with Prince of Persia: Warrior Within.  WW is set several years after the end of SoT.  The Prince is more jaded because he is being hunted by Dahaka, the Guardian of the Timeline, after the Prince released the Sands of Time.  He has finally decided to take a stand and face Dahaka.  He is willing to do whatever it takes to face his destiny and change it or die trying.

The Prince of Persia series has always been known for its animation, and WW does not disappoint.  Watching the Prince wall run over chasms is amazing.  The Prince raises and lowers himself on ledges realistically.  His acrobatic jumping, running, wall hugging, and weapon swings are incredible to walk in action.  Even drapes flutter when the prince slides down them.

The environments are mostly bare, filled with traps.  During the present, everything has an old, dirty look to it.  The present is decayed, and it truly shows.  Grey and blue colors fill the hallways, depressed by the effects of the past.  Traveling into the past brings light colors into the areas.  Sunlight causes a yellow shimmer throughout the environments.

Unfortunately, there are a few issues.  The PS2 is great at producing particle effects.  However, in the opening scene on the boat, the amount of fire causes so much blurring that it is distracting to the point where it can be detrimental to the gameplay.  Also, the PS2 is starting to show its age.  While the graphics are done very well, there are times when there is some slowdown.

PoP: WW is full of ambient sounds.  Birds squawk loudly.  The Prince’s footsteps echo in the hallways.  Unfortunately there aren’t all that many sounds in the game.  This wouldn’t be as bad of an issue if there was music in the game, but there isn’t much.  When music is playing, it’s a heavy metal guitar riff.  While the music itself isn’t bad, it sounds like the same riff being played over and over and over again.  It’s too repetitious.

The voice acting in the game is done well.  The Prince is done by a new voice actor, and his voice is more gruff and jaded.  The other characters are all very well done and speak with emotions.  However, during the game, the Prince could have used more variety in the lines he has.

Anyone who has played PoP: SoT should have no problem adjusting to WW.  The left analog stick moves the Prince while the right one moves the camera.  L1 activates the sand powers.  R1 performs wall runs and blocks during combat.  L2 activates the landscape camera while R2 gives you a first-person view.  X jumps and rolls.  Square and Triangle attack with the weapons the Prince is holding.  Circle picks up weapons and throws them.

Moving the Prince is easy enough, but getting him to do what you want isn’t always easy due to the camera.  Sometimes he’ll run up the wall when you want him to do a wall run across a chasm, and sometimes the opposite is true.  While this isn’t a problem that often, there are situations when the wrong action causes you to die, which can become frustrating.

If you have played Sand of Time, you will probably enjoy Warrior Within.  The games feel remarkably similar.  The game consists mostly of combat and navigating around the different areas, swinging, climbing, and jumping your way across.  There are traps to be avoided and switches to be pulled.  Most of the game is about getting from point A to point B.

Walking into a new area prompts the camera to show where you are at and a general area of where you need to go.  Finding that route is not easy to find.  A lot of the game involves jumping, switch pulling, wall shimmying, and ledge sliding.

Sometimes the trouble isn’t with the way to get there, but the controls.  Wanting to do a wall run and jump might be hindered when the Prince does a wall climb up the wall instead of a wall run horizontally.  While often this just results in a new try, falling off a ledge into a cliff because of it can be frustrating.

However, there are times when the camera is worse than the controls.  It is difficult to see some ledges or posts that are available to be grabbed.  Maybe I just have poor depth perception, but the levels, especially the levels set in the past, have a lot of hidden areas, and without directing the camera around manually, it’s difficult to find where to go next.

There is a greater emphasis on combat in WW.  The Prince can wield two weapons instead of constantly needing to hold onto the Dagger of Time.  Moving the analog stick in the direction of an enemy while hitting the attack button will attack the enemy in that direction.  This helps when surrounded.  Blocking is essential, and if you don’t learn how to block you will be taken care of in short order.  Again, the camera can get in the way when surrounded by a swarm of enemies.  The combat does seem to interrupt the puzzle solving element of the game.  However, it is possible to run around the enemies if need be.

While the Prince no longer has the Dagger of Time, he still is able to utilize the Sand powers through the talisman Farah gave him at the end of SoT.  The most common power is Recall, which can rewind time for up to eight seconds.  Eye of the Storm slows down time so that traps can be avoided or can fight enemies while surrounded.  Breath of Fate, Wind of Fate, and the Cyclone of Fate are all strong ground attacks that hurt several enemies simultaneously.

Farah was not a likeable character in The Sands of Time.  Her personality just didn’t click well and she only seemed to be a mechanism for assisting in certain room puzzles and firing her bow.  While this resulted in some humorous dialogue in SoT, her presence was rather disappointing.  In WW, the Prince finds a new ally in Kaileena.  She shows up to assist showing the Prince the right direction to go into.

One of the major faults in the game is that you will be traversing over the same areas over, and over, and over again.  You find a “warp room” that can be activated to take the Prince into the past.  Then the Prince moves through the traps and completes his objective and travels back to the present.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Finally, good luck trying to find the hidden rooms to increase the Prince’s life bar.  They are hidden incredibly deeply and behind some difficult traps.  Walkthroughs for these rooms are highly recommended.

One of the biggest complaints of PoP: SoT was that the game was too short.  PoP: WW is a bit longer than SoT, but not all that much.  You can probably complete WW within 12 hours.  There are artwork chests scattered throughout the levels, but they aren’t necessary to acquire unless you are the type of person to get every single thing in the game.  The game does include three difficulty levels, but it seems to affect the difficulty of the monsters you fight more than anything else.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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