Prince of Persia: Classic
Build up some speed, making sure your steps are perfectly timed as you climb up a wall and quickly roll past the closing gate. Keep movingÖ always, moving. Next up, a seemingly straightforward transition from point A to B in an empty corridor only to be met with shaky tile after shaky tile. Quickly jump past the spiked floor, over the unknown abyss below. Itís wonderfully flowing; a breathtaking display of athleticism, but as a spike comes crashing down from the ceiling impaling the Prince, the journey comes to an abrupt end. Better luck next time eh?
If youíve played the original before then you wonít be surprised to hear that Classic is made of the very same stuff that had players pulling their hair out nearly 20 years ago on the Apple II. If thereís one thing you can be sure of itís that you will die. A lot. However, unlike the original dying doesnít feel like failure but more a lesson learned, because progress in Classic is made through small steps rather than large strides, regardless of what the flamboyant actions of the Prince on screen may suggest.
Itís when you familiarise yourself with the game that it becomes a joy to play. Moving through stages can reach levels of sheer splendour as onlookers marvel at what is seemingly an effortless exercise. Those of you familiar with the sports Le Parkour or Free Running, will certainly take great delight at watching Prince of Persia: Classic, and in full flow it really is poetry in motion. This of course is all made possible through the animation, which added a previously unseen level of realism all those years ago, and it holds up remarkably well giving Classic a polished feel sorely missing from most full-blown titles on the market.
The original certainly didnít attain its reputation as a hard as nails adventure game for making the players experience a pleasant Sunday stroll in the park. Classic is a tough nut to crack but thankfully Ubisoft have helped Ďnew schoolí gamers ignorant to the Ďgood old timesí of the 1980ís by introducing a checkpoint in each level. It makes for a more forgiving experience, releasing some strain enabling players to fully explore the acrobatic talents of the Prince, without the fear of having to start all over again.
Itís these acrobatics that will play a vital role in ensuring the Prince does not meet his untimely demise. The biggest threat being the many pitfalls and traps littered across the game by Jaffar, who seems to have gone all out to stop you reaching the Princess in the 60 minutes before she is killed. However, arriving to your dearly beloved unfashionably late is okay too as the outcome at the gameís climax isnít drastically different if you complete the game within the hour or not.
Falling or being impaled arenít the only means of dying; combat plays a bit part role in the game too. Just like the 3d iterations (Sands of Time to be more precise) that graced the last gen consoles, the combat seems tacked on in comparison to the well-implemented platforming. It’s very basic in concept, yet frustratingly difficult in execution. It all comes down to well timed presses of the block button then quickly striking your enemy until they die. The frustration part I talked about earlier enters at the moment you draw your sword, this comes as a result of the inconsistent nature of the battle system. Sometimes, button presses yield no on screen action (or itís delayed by a second or two which is just as fatal) and the strategy used successfully on one enemy falls to pieces against an identical foe in the next room. Youíll ultimately come to detest the fighting with running away being the safest option. Cowardly it may be, but at least you wonít have to repeat that one section for the hundredth time.
Itís in the visual department where youíll find the biggest enhancement over the original Prince of Persia though. Since the release of the Xbox 360, too many games that have found their way on to Live Arcade have showed up to the party content with merely wearing the same clothes they had on decades ago, with a bit of HD make up to stop it from being a total disaster. Ubisoft on the other hand, have completely re-done the graphics and itís certainly paid off because the game looks absolutely stunning throughout. Classic has taken the mantle of best-looking arcade title with unnerving ease.
The lack of replay value due to a short single player is perhaps the games biggest problem. If youíre an achievement junkie, thereís the task of getting all 9 life potions, killing a guard in a specific manner and finishing the game without dying to name but a few. But if getting every achievement point you can squeeze from your 360 games isnít a priority then there is very little reason to go through the game again.
Nevertheless, for the short time that the game does last it is an example of how Live Arcade titles should be done and how an old game can be refurbished, yet still retain a nostalgic edge to please all types of players. Pound for pound, Microsoft point for Microsoft point, youíre investing in the best Live Arcade title around.
Eight out of ten
- Best looking game on Live Arcade
- Wonderfully flowing animation
- Intuitive gameplay
- Can be insanely difficult at times
- It's over all too quickly