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1 The Forgotten Sands Tries It Again on Sun Sep 12, 2010 11:33 am

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BOSTON — The prince of Persia is going back in time. Again.
The Prince of Persia series has been “rebooted” so many times that at this point it would only merit a news story if Ubisoft produced a new game in the series that wasn’t totally different from the last one. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is aimed directly at me, the sort of person who loved 2003’s The Sands of Time but wasn’t happy with the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.].
“We didn’t just want to experiment, we didn’t just want to put all of Prince of Persia into an experimental game. We wanted to maintain the lovable side of Prince of Persia, which would allow us to take risks with the other games,” lead level designer Michael McIntyre told Wired.com in an interview at PAX.
While Forgotten Sands will be released in May 2010 right alongside the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], it’s not Prince of Persia: The Movie: The Game. It takes place following the events of Sands of Time, not following the path of the movie.
“I’m not even certain of the entire scope of the film,” McIntyre said. “I don’t know if they’re just retelling Sands of Time or going beyond that, I’m not even sure. Our connection with them is just that it’s the same Prince. We haven’t worked with them and they haven’t worked with us; there’s been no need for any of that… We don’t need to make a game of the movie because we already did (with the original Sands),” he said.
While the Xbox 360 demo on the PAX East show floor this weekend is clearly inspired by Sands of Time and by the visual design of the film, it also has some intriguing new gameplay concepts, mostly focused around water.

The Prince can rewind time, of course. So if he falls off a ledge and dies, you can just hold the RB button to zip him back up it. Of course, since you can run out of rewindin’-time potion, you will die if you eat it too many times. Yes, it’s true: You can die in Forgotten Sands. I actually died a lot just in the opening section, although I blame a lot of that on the learning curve of the control scheme. (ProTip: the jump button doesn’t make you jump to the next ledge; it makes you jump to your death from wherever you are.)
Once you (re)learn the basic controls, the demo jumps you to the real thing. In addition to rewinding time, the Prince can freeze the flow of water if you hold the LT button. So a waterfall becomes a sheet of solid ice that he can wall-run across. That’s the most basic of the gimmicks. The rest of the level consists of several different iterations on the freeze-unfreeze concept. Spigots of water turn into horizontal poles that you can jump off of. Vertical showers of water become columns that you can climb. And of course, you can only keep them frozen for a certain amount of time (indicated by an energy bar that you can upgrade during the game).
This is why, McIntyre says, the acrobatics can get more and more complex as the game progresses. It’s a second input for you to master: Not only do you have to jump across the levels, but you have to remember to turn the water on and off with the right timing. Sometimes you might need to unfreeze the water so you can jump through it instead of into it.
The rest of the Prince’s powers are based on the other three elements. The Earth power, McIntyre says, is used when he “goes into an architectural space that was destroyes, and he can see ghosts of what was there before.” The prince can make these “ghosts,” former bits of the building, into solid objects that he can interact with, one section at a time.
As for wind and fire, those will come into play in the game’s combat sections. The name of the game in Forgotten Sands‘ combat is sheer overwhelming numbers. In the demo, I was set upon by a crush of probably 40 or so ghouls, and had to hack and slash my way through the whole crowd. Combat has always been the sticking point of the Prince of Persia games, vacillating between very easy and overly complex. It would be nice if this is the game that nails it.
Image: Ubisoft]

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