A brand new Prince
While Hollywood busies itself with the big screen version of Prince Of Persia, based on the original PlayStation 2 Sands Of Time game, developer Ubisoft Montreal has moved on to a whole new stomping ground, raising the bar for platforming brawlers the world over and unveiling a new breed of Prince.
The story this time around sees the new Prince returning from an expedition that yielded vast amounts of treasure only for him to be trapped in a strange and powerful sandstorm that transports him to a mysterious garden where he meets Elika.
It's here that the Prince discovers that the Tree Of Life has been destroyed and a devilish god of darkness has been set free to wreak havoc on the lands. From here, you embark on your journey as the Prince with Elika by your side to liberate the lands from the evil shadows corrupting it.
The puzzle solving, acrobatics and combat elements that made past Prince Of Persia's such a joy have all made the transition, but there are a number of defining differences too. Firstly is the presentation: 2008's Prince Of Persia has been crafted using cel-shading, and the game's plot is entirely non-linear meaning you can go straight ahead and explore the world before embarking on missions.
The Prince also has some extra help in the form of a new supporting character called Elika, who stays by his side at all times during the game, saving him from death in combat or if he should slip whilst in the midst of acrobatic exploration. Elika, should you be nearing death, or slip and fall, will simply return you to higher ground or your most recent save point, or protect you while you regain your strength.
She is also extremely useful when it comes to making much bigger jumps by using her magical powers to help propel you further over those large gaps or to those hard to reach areas that a standard jump could not normally reach. The approach to combat differs vastly, offering up its own set of unique challenges. Gone are the days of duelling with multiple hordes of enemies; instead this time around combat is primarily one-on-one, much more intimate, which means that each fight you partake in as the Prince feels a lot more like a boss battle.
The Prince still battles with a sword and with the newly added gauntlet glove he can now grab enemies and hurl them into the air, offering up a slick way to perform combo attacks. He also has the power to call on Elika to launch magic at his enemies and can perform some swift dodges should things get a little too heated. The trick to survival in the much tougher brawls, and there a few, is to juggle attacks with dodge, throws and Elika's powerful magic attacks.
Fights can be quite lengthy if you fail the first time. When your health depletes you will fall to your knees whilst Elika keeps your opponent at bay allowing you to regain your strength at the cost of seeing your enemies' health restored to maximum too.
The gauntlet, the attachment on the Prince's arm is not only a combat tool but it serves more prominently as a great device for exploration and slick acrobatics. You can use it to climb, run along walls, leap from one to another or simply slide down them, breaking a high fall.
With similarities to the hugely successful Assassin's Creed, developer Ubisoft Montreal has crafted a stunningly rendered world with a truly unique look that offers up a great challenge for newcomers to the heralded Prince Of Persia series. And for anyone returning to the franchise, you will most certainly be in for a treat as you take control of a new Prince Of Persia unlike any that has come before him.