|Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones (2005)
Available for: PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube
Well, here we are at the end of the “Prince of Persia” trilogy. It’s been a long battle, but the finale is finally here and in fine form. In this episode, the Prince of Persia returns with his love Kaileena to his home of Babylon, only to find it ransacked and decimated. What the holy hell? Soon, all sorts of trouble ensues, with Kaileena ultimately being kidnapped and killed by the vizier, releasing the Sands of Time, which alternately bonds with the vizier to make him a larger than life god, and with the prince as well, giving him a sudden case of the split personalities. Finding himself with the new powers of the Dark Prince, who wields a mean weapon called the Daggertail, the Prince of Persia is off and running to exact revenge on the vizier.
This edition of “Prince of Persia” is exactly what that last “Tomb Raider” game should have been like. Controlling the prince is effortless, and there are tons of environmental puzzles to work through. Along the way, the in-game help system will assist you when ever a new move is required, telling you exactly how to pull it off successfully. At first, this seems a bit annoying and ‘easy,” but there are so many moves and combos in this game, that it’s good the help system is there. After a while, all the moves become second nature. With a quick study of the lay of the land, it becomes easier and easier to employ the correct tactics to get through a section of the game map.
Of course, the downside to this (as it always was with the “Tomb Raider” series as well) is that this takes an awful lot of trial and error practice in certain scenes. It’s a godsend that the prince can use the Sands of Time to actually rewind time if he finds himself getting killed, and gets a few chances to try again, but if that sand runs out, don’t be surprised to find yourself restarting way back before the point where you died. I guess it’s the theory of “practice makes perfect” put into action, but it also makes the game moderately frustrating at points. It’s also a case of timing. So if you don’t hit that X button to spring from a window’s shutter after running along the wall and defying gravity, you’ll either find yourself dead, or at the bottom of a puzzle once again.
All that aside, the real action is in the combat. “Prince of Persia”’s combat system is smooth and rather remarkable. You can perform stealth kills by sneaking up on enemies and hitting the square button a couple times. Or, you can jump right in and start rolling about with all sorts of speedy acrobatic moves that can make mincemeat of the baddies in no time at all. The prince can also pick up the enemies’ weapons after they have been defeated and use them to his advantage. But how about that Dark Prince? Well, he comes in in situations where the normal prince couldn’t be nimble or tough enough. A wild transformation takes place, and the Dark Prince is out to wreak havoc with the Daggerrtail, which basically a long chain with some blades on the end of it. But beware, the Dark Prince lives on the Sands of Time and these will slowly be depleted, so the player must smash baskets and objects to find more sand to keep him alive.
There are also a few chariot races, and of course boss battles, to break things up. I did notice some annoying graphical slowdowns during these moments as the disc was accessed to load extra material. But apart from that, the game looks great, the voice acting is just fine, and the soundtrack is as good as anything you’d care to hear in an adventure game. The replay value might not be high on this title, but it’s a fun experience the first time through. In all, “Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones” is a worthy conclusion to an action-packed trilogy. Now if only those “Tomb Raider” guys could also learn when to give it a rest.