Set some time after the events of the infamous Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time (and sometime before the not-so infamous Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within), this is a return to the franchise's glory. And when we say "return" we mean return. The first few hours are unmistakably Sands Of Time in HD such is the reverence to the formula in The Forgotten Sands.
The narrative revolves around the Prince's brother, whose royal palace is under-siege. Seeking a reconciliation with his sibling, the Prince endeavours through the under-fire palace, happening upon his brother just as the decision is made to unleash an ancient power against the attacking forces. Naturally it all goes wrong and everyone turns to sand. Not good.
Prince Of Persia: The Forgotten Sands' campaign takes about six-to-eight hours to play-through.
Prince Of Persia: The Forgotten Sands' greatest strength is its fluidity. There's a strong direction to the game's platforming mechanics, with solid controls and well chosen camera angles delivering an exemplary fluid experience. The controls are perhaps the greatest strength towards enhancing this sense of dynamism - with R2 mapped to wall running, L2 mapped to time-manipulation and, X to jump. The game has you flicking between the controls as you leap between walls, run across frozen water, and wall-kick yourself up to nearby ledges. It's all completely contrived, and suffers from a lack of variety later on, but it's hard to deny the excitement provided by leaping through massive hall-ways of obstacles.
The Forgotten Sands looks great, with detailed environments and well considered level design. It suffers a little from a paint-by-numbers vibe later on, but what's in the game is extremely pretty. There are some good vista shots to, that show off the strength of The Forgotten Sands engine. The game's dotted by some stand-out set-piece moments, that have you traversing through an environment literally crumbling around you. These are The Forgotten Sands best moments, and when they come will leave you grinning from ear to ear.
Invoking the sense of Persia with a relevant theme is not particularly difficult, but Prince Of Persia goes the extra mile, delivering a score that's both evocative and catchy. Sadly, the British voice actors don't lend much to the sense of location.
Once you get used to Prince Of Persia's combat mechanics, it starts to open up a bit. The game revolves around the ability to charge sword attacks by holding the Square button and chaining. Despite the combat improving over time (with the unlock of new abilities), it still manages to feel imprecise and, for want of a better word, spongey. It just doesn't feel like the Prince is ever doing damage.
The Forgotten Sands is as polished and well-designed as you could hope for, but even that fails to deter the feeling that you've seen it all before. Aside from a few tweaks here and there, and the HD graphics, The Forgotten Sands is really nothing new. It's good, but familiar.
While jumping between frozen water fountains and swinging on bars is enjoyable for the first four hours or so of The Forgotten Sands, the formula begins to grate later on. This is partly because of the game's inability to mix things up, but also because the mechanics are already so familiar.
Whatever Ubisoft choose to tell you - Prince Of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is a movie tie-in. It's therefore refreshing to see a movie tie-in grounded in great video game mechanics - though the source material naturally helps. Prince Of Persia: The Forgotten Sands lacks ambition, in that it is more of what's come before. Alas, the game's fluid and dotted with stunning set-pieces. It's a solid platformer, and a decent entry in a revered franchise.