French game publisher Ubi Soft is probably best known for their quality squad based shooters such as the Rainbow Six franchise. However, one of their more obscure series, Prince of Persia, has accumulated quite a following over the years, so it only stands to reason that Ubi Soft would bring the franchise back for another run. This newest game in the series is being developed by Ubi Soft's Montreal team, the studio behind the smash hit Splinter Cell.
In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the prince is charged with restoring peace in the land after his father invades the palace of Maharajah, breaking the hourglass of time and releasing an ancient and deadly evil. Now it is up to the prince to master the sands of time and save the land once again. In order to accomplish this he must make use of all his extraordinary skills, and the sands of time.
The nameless Prince has some uncanny gymnastic skills in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. He can jump, swing around poles, and hang off ledges, all with amazing grace. However, his most formidable skill is the ability to use the sands of time to his advantage. Using the sands, the prince can perform a plethora of amazing tricks, such as rewinding time, manipulating enemies and more. At any point in the game, so long as the prince has enough sand, he can use it to manipulate the flow of time to his benefit. He can rewind time ten seconds at a time, allowing him a second chance if he just screwed up. He can also send enemies into another dimension, weakening them as well as slowing them down. Or, if he is feeling like a showoff, he can simply speed up or slow down time, allowing for some very nifty bullet time effects. Perhaps the coolest feature is the ability to use the sands to receive prophetic visions, which will alert the prince to future perils he may face on later levels.
Since sand plays such a vital role in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, it is important for the game engine to make good use of particle effects, and it does. Sand will flow and blow in a very realistic and aesthetically appealing way, which should go a long way in recreating the mid-eastern landscapes the game takes place in. Another nice graphical effect is the way the tapestries hang and move. For this the game borrows the lace curtain effect found in Splinter Cell to create realistic movement, which is important since so many enemies encountered in the game like to hide behind them. There are other motion and animation features in Prince of Persia that were borrowed from Splinter Cell, but the game actually utilizes its own game engine, so there will also be quite a few differences graphically. All in all, however, Prince of Persia promises to look stunning.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is still a ways off, but so far it appears to be shaping up nicely. It's always nice to see a classic franchise get a fresh update on next generation console, and we can only hope that The Sands of Time receives as much time and attention from Ubi Soft Montreal as Splinter Cell did.
7/21/2003 Ryan Hartmann