Prince of Persia is back, this time in the form of "Rival Swords" for the Nintendo Wii. This game is basically a straight port of "The Two Thrones" Gamecube game with a new control scheme implemented. Though it does have a different feel thanks to the new controls, does it warrant the purchase of a new game?
There really is no reason for a new name, other than the fact that Ubisoft is trying to add some flair to induce some more purchases. The game has been only subtly tweaked, with the only difference being the control scheme. The Two Thrones was a good game. That said, a lot more than a port was expected from the next-gen entry of the franchise. We'll have to wait for a new adventure. So, those looking for a new game will be disappointed, but those who appreciate some new controls that are actually pretty good will find something in Rival Swords.
Fans of the series will be very familiar with the plotline of the game. In case you haven't played Two Thrones, it's definitely the darkest and most drama-driven story in the series to date. The Prince comes back to Babylon with Kaileena (the empress of time) and finds it in shambles due to all the fighting and war that has taken the land. I won't give away the plot, but the Prince becomes locked in an inner struggle with a dark, evil alter-ego and must fight to find himself again and win back power of the kingdom.
If you've played any recent Prince of Persia games, you won't find a whole lot of difference in this one (except for the controls). The gameplay is all about puzzles, close combat, maneuvering ninja style, and platforming. It's as fun as ever to fly around the levels, doing all kinds of crazy jumps and moves. The experience is improved by the fact that the alter-ego, called the Dark Prince, is actually pretty fun to control. He has a huge, sharp, razor-type whip that you can swing around and use on the biggest, baddest enemies. This bumps up the variety of gameplay, and the story is still engaging, even if it is all still the same as the Two Thrones.
The one thing the Wii version obviously has going for it is the new control scheme, with the Wii-mote and nunchuck controllers. The system actually performs quite well, and if you've played other motion-controlled Wii games, you'll find it stacks up pretty well with the competition. It does take some getting used to, however. The hardest part about the controls is the camera, which can be very frustrating. To move the camera you must turn the Wii-mote left and right, and it's sometimes not at all smooth or responsive. Trying to perform all the moves the Prince has while at the same time trying to rotate the camera can be downright maddening at times. However, the swinging and slashing actually works as well as could be hoped for, and does add a layer of depth and novelty. There are a couple of other additions, such as unlockable game art and cut-scenes, and these add a bit of extra incentive to find secret pick-ups and the like.
The audio in the game is excellent-no complaints here. Voice-acting, music, effects, environments all sound fantastic. There is a definite cinematography to this game, and the storyline is played out very well in rich cut-scenes and acting.
The graphics, in contrast, are nothing to write home about. For a "next-gen" system, the visuals really are a slight letdown. It doesn't really look any better than its current-gen counterpart. The models and environments can be choppy and shaped at times, even though the design of the levels is fantastic and helps distract from the shortcomings. The animations are actually very good and quite smooth, which is essential for this sort of game-and they help keep this game looking good despite the not-at-all-next-gen graphics.
At its core, this is still the same great game we've been playing for years. It comes with all the charm of the Prince's skills, attitude, and acrobatics, and the new controls are quite fun to use, even if they are a bit frustrating at times thanks to the camera control. The fact is that it's still the same game that came out on the PS2 and XBOX. If you are a fan of the series, and have played The Two Thrones, I would recommend playing through that one again and saving fifty bucks. However, if you missed Two Thrones, or are the type of person who craves that motion sensing control, go pick this one up, because even with its flaws it is still Prince of Persia done right.