Walking through the Ubi Soft booth, there were two items that really grabbed a showgoer's attention. The scantily clad women draped in mesh clothing attracted people to the booth; Prince of Persia 2 kept them there. Luckily, a developer was on hand to walk us through the demo and answer our questions regarding the highly-anticipated sequel.
For Prince of Persia 2, the development team wanted to retain elements from the last title while using innovation to bring it to a new level. Gone is the soft bloom effect that defined Prince of Persia, replaced by a shaper, darker and more realistic art style.
Since his last adventure, the Prince has matured into a "master warrior", one who can now throw enemies or capture them for use as shields. His fighting style has become much more acrobatic and can now attack while performing other actions, such as wall running. Environmental interaction has also been integrated into combat, demonstrated when the Prince swings around a pole, decapitating two nearby enemies in the process. As enemies take damage, they gradually turn a shade of brown. At this point, the Prince can execute his new finishing moves through a series of complex button presses. Once an enemy returns to sand, quite impressive as the enemy literally turns back to sand, the Prince can pick up their weapon. We saw the Prince wielding dual swords, unlocking a new set of combat moves. Since weaponry is replaceable, it has also been made consumable. In other words, weapons can break. The focus of these changes was to break up the monotony of combat that plagued the first title, and it certainly appears they have succeeded.
Combat and puzzle solving are now more integrated. No longer will you fight a large horde of enemies before solving a puzzle - rather, you will now fight enemies as you solve a puzzle. While this may sound frustrating, it works rather well to keep pacing even. As you solve various aspects of a puzzle, you'll find more enemies as you proceed further.
Speaking of puzzle solving, adventure elements also have also undergone a stylish evolution. Much like Tarzan, the Prince now uses only one hand to swing on a rope. We witnessed the Prince running across a wall to a drape, sliding down the drape, jumping onto a switch, and then swinging onto the ground executed in one fluid motion.
Of course, the Sands of Time return, and are now more useful in puzzle solving. One example placed a spinning water wheel between the Prince and his destination. By using the Sands of Time, he was able to slow time and run between the gaps in the wheel. While new powers are promised, only one was revealed to us during the course of our demonstration: rewinding time on a much grander scale.
The story deals with the Prince attempting to prevent the creation of the Sands of Time. You see, thanks to his prior Sands of Time usage, the Prince avoided his preordained death. This upsets the Warden of Time, as no human can change their destiny. Thus, the Prince must be removed from time itself. That is, unless he can prevent the Sands of Time from coming into existence, therefore avoiding the entire issue.
To do this, the Prince must travel into the distant past. For example, while exploring a destroyed fortress, the Prince wanders into a pillar of sand. The following cinematic shows the fortress rebuilding as time is rewound. Upon emergence, the Prince finds the fortress as it once was, giving him the chance to affect the future by changing the past.
Of course, the Warden of Time pursues the Prince across time. Much like the Nemesis from Resident Evil 3, the Warden cannot be killed. Upon encountering the Warden, the Prince must find a way to impede his progress and escape.
Towards the end of the demo, the Prince encountered a large enemy covered with armor. The only way to hurt this behemoth is to run between his legs, and attack his open backside. After taking enough damage, the creature falls to his knees. Now, this is where it gets really cool. The Prince them hops on the foe's head and begins bludgeoning his noggin. Obviously, the creature is not fond of this and attempts to throw the Prince off. You actually have to avoid the creature's swipes as you attack his head. Finally, as the creature falls, the Prince plunges his sword deep in its skull, returning him to sand.
Prince of Persia 2 is shaping up to do the sequel thing right, addressing the flaws of the first while bringing it to a new level. With a Christmas launch planned, the PoP2 team certainly has enough time to ensure a quality title. Look forward to it.