Prince of Persia 4 in the test - grandiose reinvention of the Persian prince

Author: Petra Schmitz
Date: 2003-12-05 12:17:00
Imagine a mix of Tomb Raider and Matrix - is not possible? But! And Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is playing absolutely fantastic thanks to the extraordinary level design and orient scenario.

Dear reader, listen to our story from the Arabian Nights. It is a fairy tale full of heroism, deadly threats and love that has never been more magically captured on the PC. From a time when scimitar rattles were still rattling in the Orient, mystical empires were in constant dispute and youthful princes in harem pants could cause a huge mess.

In the 3D action game Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, a prince craves recognition and single-handedly pokes a magical dagger from the palace of the neighboring sultan. Then he rams the knife into the hourglass of time. The grains of sand pour out and transform the perplexed witnesses into soulless zombies - except for an evil vizier, the sultan's daughter and of course our prince. He just wants to undo his act. To do this, however, he must somehow get to the top room in the tallest tower of the huge palace ...

Athletic boy wonder

The path to the destroyed hourglass is one of the most arduous we have ever tackled in a computer game. This balances out the repertoire of movements: The prince runs along walls, climbs huge heights with multiple hops, jumps from pillars onto ladders, then back onto pillars.

And hits somersaults that Lara Croft couldn't even have dreamed of. So we master the walls of the palace equipped with rotating saw blades, overcome bottomless abysses and dodge rhythmically swinging, spiked wooden beams. Sometimes the slowly closing level output creates time pressure.

You control the character with the mouse and keyboard. Dexterity and good timing are both required. If you lose the overview despite the automatic camera, you can adjust the perspective manually. Occasionally, however, such as in tight spaces or near a wall, the rework refuses to work, and you can only hope that the next jump does not end in death.

Back to the past

The theft of the magic dagger has a unique advantage: you control the time! The weapon can turn back the action by 20 seconds, for example to undo the fall to death.

As soon as the prince dies, the program counts down the valuable time travel seconds - recognizable by a countdown in the top left of the picture. You must then press the rewind button as quickly as possible. Otherwise you may not be able to play back far enough and the youngster will not end up on safe ground. If the 20 seconds have elapsed without being used, you will land earlier in the level at an unnoticed saved point. You can only secure yourself at the numerous and fairly distributed light columns.

For rewinding, the knife needs sand energy, which you can shred off killed zombies or charge using special cones of light. The more cones you have, the more times you can rewind. This will empty one cone at a time, but you can refill it. And: on the cones you improve the dagger, which initially only has four rewind options. You will only find all the cones of light if you carefully examine the palace.

Dagger slow motion

If the attacks get too violent, let the time count down for about 20 seconds by pressing a button. Then the unrestrained youth is superior to his lazy adversaries. If you hit an opponent with the dagger, he hovers defenseless in the air for a few seconds and you can crumble him to dust with two blows of your sword. Both special moves also consume precious sand energy.

Matrix in the Orient

The fights are some of the best in the action genre. Often up to six opponents come at the same time, circle you or conjure up behind you. No problem: You can win against mutated harem ladies, eunuchs, strong palace guards or huge vulture blends with rapid actions. Lightning-fast parades with a curved sword (in the right hand) and dagger (left hand), overhead jumps, somersaults and multiple kicks make the king's son a worthy opponent. Matrix-Neo has to cry when you push off a wall with a run-up and throw the next opponent to the ground with your swing. Then kill him with a single stab in the back.

Palace of Riddles

Like Indiana Jones 6, Prince of Persia 4 challenges your gray matter. For example, you should cross the destroyed garden. But the doors are locked, only the huge bird house is freely accessible. You can get an overview by zooming out of the scenery or briefly looking around in the first person perspective. A few adrenaline-pumping jumps and pounds later you stand on the roof of the cage. If you don't know what to do next, short visions of the future, which you can call up at memory points, help.

You can read the entire test in GameStar 01/2004 or online as a pdf in the magazine archive.