Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prince of Persia Warrior Within Review

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within for the PlayStation 2 was a great game at the time.  It was long, had great controls, good graphics, amazing level design, extensive fighting mechanics, and overall delivered a testosterone raging action game with sections of puzzle platforming thrown in.  This game was definitely a great addition the series…then six years later Gameloft makes a deal and decides to port the game to the iPod touch and iPhone.

Gameloft took a game that was great six years ago and…kept it the same…

This had great potential.  With a little bit of work we could have a renew in the popularity of the prince of Persia series that once was.  Instead we get a complete re-hash of the game with very little changes apart from the menu and controls.  Now this action has good aspects as well as bad.  The game is great and the full game is here, however, the graphics, loading, and controls were not perfected to the extent they could be.

And now for the breakdown…

I do not have much to say here.  The graphics are down right awful.  They try to fool you by having an opening cutscene that is quite pretty but most of the cutscenes are made of in game graphics and are not in any way easy to watch.  The textures are bad and repetitive and the characters appear to be made of polygons.  The worst aspect of the graphics, however, is that the ledges and poles that you will swing and jump to all seem the same.  Since you will be spending a lot of time on these ledges you cannot help but feel that you are getting a cookie cutter type game here.  Again in 2004 these were forgivable, but Gameloft could have at least re-rendered much of the game to create graphics that were not quite as dated.

In my opinion this is the reason why you would by the game.  It is the same game that was great when I was a kid, and its appealing factors have not aged with the graphics.  This is high class action platformer.  You will be going back and forth from doing summersaults over enemies as you come down to slice them in half (all in slow motion of course) to entering a room that you must maneuver around by running on walls, leaping from ledges, swinging on poles like an Olympian, and hanging from cracks in the wall.  As soon as you are done you will be thrust back into action where you can perform your desired acrobatics to stylishly take down the foe that has just appeared before you.  There are some pretty satisfying ways to finish off your opponents.  Flipping over one opponent to decapitate them from behind is pretty cool.  There is some repetition where you will see the same rooms and will have to repeat the same platform routine but I did not think it was excessive.  Additionally there is a massive daemon that attacks you, and you must flee using the same techniques of running on walls, leaping across gaps, and swinging on poles to escape and reach safety.  These sections are intense and add exciting gameplay.  However these can also be frustrating if you make a mistake and die.  Fortunately there is a button to rewind time when you die and retry that jump that you missed by an inch.

The controls are a mixed bag for this one.  The console game used every button to make the character move effectively.  They did the best they could at taking all of that functionality that had to be there and fitting it on one screen in a few buttons.  Because of this however, we get many actions that are executed with the same button depending on the circumstance and movement of your character.  For the most part this works, but since this game highly relies on its platform mechanic I found many situations where I would be trying to run up a wall to activate a button and instead would run across the wall off of the ledge to fall to my doom.  This didn’t happen all the time, but it was enough times for me to make sure I was perfectly lined up before jumping (it is a good thing you are allowed to rewind time).  The virtual pad was also not as responsive as it should be and I found myself running into a wall on occasion and getting stuck for a few seconds…because of this there were several places I would have to reactivate a switch that opened a time sensitive door because I was stuck on the other side of the column surrounding the door.

The art style is good with the sepia-tone setting with sharp contrasts of red.  This is nice but there is really nothing special about the menus or overall presentation.  There is voice acting but there is not a lot of dialog in the story.

This is another sore subject for this game.  The load times are lengthy and there are frequent load times during the gameplay where the game will freeze while a red spiral spins in the center to load the next section.  The problem with this is that it sometimes falls in a strange area (ex. while you are leaping across a gap or running through blades).  This can cause some undue damage or deaths.  I did experience times of slowdown on my 2G iPod touch.  I also had some crashing during loading screens which frustrated me.  This game just did not seem optimized in any way for the iPhone or iPod touch.  It also takes up quite a bit of space if you are concerned about that (i would advise downloading from appstore on your computer, but I didn't).  The game will take up a whole 698.7 MB of space so make room before attempting to download if you do it directly to your device.  I can't help but think that if gameloft spent a little more time with this then they could have reduced these errors  and lowing as well as decreasing the memory it consumed.

This is a hard one because though it will take you a long time to complete and the gameplay is quite entertaining, you are receiving an unpolished product.  At $4.99 you defiantly need to think twice before you buy.  I honestly have played this app quite a bit and have enjoyed it more than I have enjoyed any other app in a while.  I am also one of those gamers who don't mind dealing with some graphical and performance issues to get to some great gameplay.  It also must be said that Gameloft should get some kudos for porting an entire console game onto the iPhone.  With that in mind I can forgive some of the games shortcomings.

Prince of Persia Warrior Within is a great game... it is amazing that Gameloft has now proven that a full sized console game can be put on the iPhone.  There are many shortcomings in the performance and graphics of the game.  But, if you can get past the long loading screens and forget about the pixelated Prince then you will find some engaging gameplay to this action platformer.  I recommend this game... but only to a select audience.  If you are like me and can forgive a games graphical and performance issues as long as the gameplay is great, then get this game.  If you are someone who throws the controller at the TV every time your game lags online (yes I'm talking to YOU!) then probably don't want to waste the money.  Also if you have the game already and loved, then consider revisiting the console version instead.  However if you want a portable version, this works well and it is only $4.99 compared to buying the PS2 version for $20 at the video game store.

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