Prince of Persia in the test - a new jack of all trades in the Orient
How fitting: Scheherazade, the heroine from the fairy tale collection Thousand and One Nights, practically invented the cliffhanger. It was only because she always stopped at the most exciting point with her tales that King Shahriyâr let her live - the curious despot wanted to know how things would go on. It has always been similar in the Prince of Persia games, which are inspired by oriental myths: players wondered where and how things would go on in the level, and the hero was always attached to cliffs and similar things. In this regard, the current Prince remains loyal to the series. But in some respects the developer Ubisoft Montreal is also breaking new ground - for example by sending you back to familiar ones during the course of the game.
Also on GameStar.de:
»Watch or download the Prince of Persia test video
»View the Prince of Persia screenshot gallery
»Read the technology check on Prince of Persia
In what is now the seventh Morgenland Adventure, linearity goes flat, you will have to revisit some of the levels that you have already mastered. Also different from its predecessors: Tasks are repeated all the time - players have known this since Assassin's Creed and Far Cry 2 as "Ubisoft Syndrome". After all, Prince of Persia packs his scheme F into a story that is understandable and romantic at the same time and comes up with two consistently likeable leading actors who are allowed to carry out the most charming squabbles in a game for a long time.
Princess Elika has a problem: The evil god Ahriman, locked in a tree for centuries, wants to get rid of his shackles and plunge the country into everlasting darkness. Only when the magically gifted Elika transforms destroyed oases into blooming landscapes again can the god and his four favorite damned be stopped. Fate wants a nameless warrior to get lost in the desert and stumble into Elika's graceful arms. From then on, the two go together to fight the threat - initially with reluctance, which soon gives way to tender love ties.
With the new Prince of Persia, Ubisoft is reflecting on a core element of the first and third Sands of Time parts: romance. Heartwarming and funny dialogues relax between the daredevil and Elika. They are set to music so exceptionally well that sometimes the spit stays away. Unlike its predecessors, however, the exchange of words is not always automatic. If an Elika symbol flashes in the lower left corner of the picture, you can start a dialog, but you don't have to. If you do not do it, you will miss a lot of wonderful squabbles (such as a wonderful game of "I'm seeing something you can't see"), or you will fragment the conversations about the game to such an extent that they sometimes seem out of place.
»Gallery: Prince of Persia - Prinz & Elika
Although the acrobatics in the new Prince of Persia are at least as spectacular as in the predecessors, everything is much more relaxed. You have to press a maximum of two buttons to send the young man over gorges, climb walls, slide down with a magic glove or even briefly run on the ceiling. Using magical plates, which you unlock gradually, the hero can even sprint up walls forever or fly over half levels.
In the previous series, the prince and princess often traveled through the Orient together, but the breakneck gymnastics was mostly reserved for the male part of the duo. In the new series offshoot, Elika automatically follows every canyon, down every slope, up every wall. Even more: only with the help of the lady can the hero master particularly wide abysses. All it takes is a push of a button and Elika appears in the air as if by magic, grabs the nameless warrior, hurls him onto safe ground and lands there immediately. The companion is also used if a jump has failed and the gymnast threatens to fall to his death. Using magic, she always pulls the hero back onto the last podium, automatically. So there is no such thing as death.
»Gallery: Prince of Persia - acrobatics
Two against four
While the game only ever sends you down a few enemies, that doesn't mean that the battles are easy. Without (spectacularly staged) combo attacks you will not be able to damage the normal slime monsters or the four boss opponents significantly. The guys simply got too good block arts from the developers for that. In the case of a boss opponent, you can't do anything else until the last argument (you meet Ahriman's four favorite henchmen six times) than push him over edges or bury him under rubble.
Even in the fights, Elika is more than just a decorative accessory. A correctly timed keystroke is enough and the young woman rushes at the opponent. Or it automatically saves the hero from hopeless situations. But you should urgently avoid that, because the opponents always gain health, which logically lengthens the fight.
»Gallery: Prince of Persia: The boss opponents
Heal, heal daisies
If you have survived a boss fight, Elika can heal an oasis. Flowers and grass then sprout there. And balls of light appear everywhere in the level section. You have to collect them to unlock further areas of the world and to activate the magical plates mentioned above. Stupid: If you collect more than the required light balls, you have none of it. There are no bonuses in the game.
You can get a lot of balls by simply doing gymnastics around the area as usual, but some are tricky to get to. And some can only be reached with the help of the magic plates. This means that you have to travel again to the sections you have already visited in order to bag enough energy balls. But practical: you can teleport back and forth between the healed oases as you wish. That saves a lot of walking - which you can have Elika show you in case you get lost. However, the good one is a bit confused at times. In any case, she sent us in the wrong direction several times. That sounds more tragic than it actually is, because the areas are manageably small. In addition, there is always - unlike the previous ones - a route back.
In terms of graphics, the current Prince of Persia is also new. Prince, Elika and Monster do not look like the usual polygonal creatures, but rather like animated concept art. However, like very successful and very well animated concept drawings. The same applies to the environment. Instead of hard edges, everything seems to flow a bit into one another, like a watercolor. Overall very consistent, even if the level of detail is a bit puny at times.
Speaking of »liked«: Although the tasks are repeated over and over again, the unusual visual approach, the fantastic setting and the two heroes breathe life into the game enough to keep it motivated until the end that is both satisfactorily successful and discreetly open (the credits come before but unlike Assassin's Creed cancel) continue playing. We liked it a lot.
»Watch or download the Prince of Persia test video