Well right now I think I'm near the end, but because of a fatal lack of foresight as well as sheer stupidity by the developers, my game is permanently stuck. I had read Kotaku's review and one of the complaints was the simplistic autosave feature and lack of save slots and with how glitchy and patchable games are these days, something will go horribly wrong and you can't load back an old save. Well LO-AND-BEHOLD (sp?) I just got the Djinn to enter my sword and was climbing up Solomon's Tower, jumping from vulture to vulture, when I slipped up and died. I get transported back to the dungeon level down below with all the axe pendulums, and the gate ahead is completely shut. That's it for me. Game over. I can't advance past the gate, and I am definitely not starting a new game. For those not aware, aside from the autosaves, this game is extremely streamlined to the point where you can't backtrack past any gates or doors and god forbid if one of the developers screws up and places an autosave in an area where the gate should have been shut from behind but instead is right in front of you. /rant /rant
Even though it is not based on the movie, this game felt like a rushed movie tie-in nonetheless and has none of the PoP charm and feels so third-rate and methodically uninspired I wonder how it even got green-lighted.
Story: If you didn't like the last PoP because the Prince sounded like a high-school dropout and the writing and dialogue was grating and paper-thin, you should be happy that the Forgotten Sands isn't even pretentious enough to try and match it. Instead, they have looked towards such games as Halo, Killzone, and Gears of War for their script standards. You won't find more than just short simple lines and dumb reasoning and idiotic behavior among the cast. The cynical quips that the Prince is forced to tell himself to fill the void of a conversing duo with chemistry is just plain childish and completely forced. The story is propelled by that awful plot device where the characters have alzheimer's and don't explain anything and talk to each other as if they were speech impaired and undergoing dementia, leading to one misunderstanding and missed opportunity after another, not that there is much to talk about since even if the lines were filled in thoroughyl, the storyboard isn't much better than "Mario goes save the Princess. The End."
Graphics: First off, this is probably the worst looking of any of the 4 Prince of Persia 3D games, and I don't know how it can look worse than an 8-9 years older last-gen game. It may have that 720p sharpness and widescreen glamour, but that's all it has. The game doesn't try to hide the fact that you are running around in a giant box and clinging onto more boxes and solid, squared objects. The environments look so generic and fake that it is laughable at times. When the prince goes into the famed gardens of his brother's kingdom, he exclaims "it is far more beautiful than I remembered it" or something to that effect. The garden is nothing more than a set of unembellished platforms with water spouts inbetween for freezing and a couple of squiggles of green along the wall to claim the poorest excuse of a garden I have ever seen. The rest of the game is just plain barren dungeons and drab, spaciously bare rooms. I still can't believe a game this day and age can be so low-fi and look so bad it shames even old PS2 games.
The animations are just as bad. They are all jerky and poorly mapped out, like some first generation 3D game with stuttering and cartoony quick movements. The spell effects that some review sites say make the combat interesting have such low polygon counts and sharp corners they might have been taken straight from Final Fantasy 7, particularly the fire and ice powers.
Gameplay: All of the Prince's old tricks are back, but with a new twist! The only positive thing I will say in this entire review is that I like the new water mechanic as well as the make invisible object visible mechanic, which adds an extra layer of complexity when swinging or wall running from one area to another. It adds an element of timing that I find interesting but isn't too frustrating. Now there ends the positives. It's only downhill from here.
For starters, the camera has gone berserk. When you move it around, it feels like its attached to a tether ball and is flailing around when it should be steady. In their quest to streamline the game yet again, Ubisoft has placed fixed camera angles throughout the game, and I'm not talking about the old cinematic panorama views from the old games. Instead, this fixes the camera to the point where you don't need to explore at all since you will always be facing the right direction and not jumping into an abyss if you don't bother to look first, but they implement it so unevenly that a quarter of the time, the camera will get stuck using the previous fixed angle, and you're forced to jump towards the screen into nothingness anyway because you can't see ahead and you can't move the camera.
The fighting and movement controls are manageable, but they feel so sloppy I wonder if this isn't some sort of clone game made by another developer who doesn't have the original code. The controls aren't very tight and the Prince tends to veer off course, falling off ledges and running into things like some unwieldy fat man who can't control his own momentum. You can't slowly step towards an edge since his step size is so large. This screws up a lot of my jumps since I end up clinging in a shimmy position instead of sailing across a chasm.
Another major issue is that they screwed up the direction controls, making them very backwards and unintuitive. When you shimmy on ledges and the path turns 90 degrees, it would be common sense that you would press the joystick upward to continue shimmying, because the path moves upwards (or further away). But no, they made it relative to the Prince instead and not what you actually see on the screen, which is really stupid. This means you either push left or right. The same goes for levers. When you finally latch onto a lever (because the Prince has butterfingers in this game), you don't rotate the joystick like every other god damn game does so perfectly. Instead, you push up to push the lever forward, and down to pull the lever. They just love breaking things that aren't broken. To spite you.
The most frustrating control scheme is that when you are clinging to a ledge and want to jump to a higher ledge, in every other game you can push jump, but in this particular one pushing jump will make you fly like a bird straight into the air only to fall 1000 feet below. Normally if I wanted to kill myself off, I would pull towards myself with the joystick and press jump. Yet another annoying feature I find about the game is that somehow, the Prince has this BRAND NEW gravity defying move where he can cling to the wall after wall jumping and scurry up the wall for 10 feet like Spiderman before losing his superpowers. Why he can't just walk up walls or fly without wings, I guess they are saving these next features for the followup game.
As far as actual platforming, although it isn't bad, it feels largely uninspired and with little originality or difficulty. It might even be easier than the previous PoP, in some instances, and all the streamlining doesn't help.
Combat: The Prince's fighting movements are inaccurate and jerky. It takes more than one try to even swing a sword at a stationary pot, much less individual enemies. The PRince seems to be wielding a giant 10 ton club and not a light sword, and added with the shoddy auto-facing makes things very unpredictable. This is all in an attempt to streamline the game, yet again. Just throw out any finesse or real control altogether, because the monsters are easy and with the auto-targeting, its a one-button mashing one-handed affair. I don't think there's even a block button. There's also just one Boss type in the entire game...
Audo/Music: Not much to say about the audio. Nothing new here. However, the music is sub-par and sounds bad, not matching the atmosphere and being out of place. There was this track that probably had only four notes repeating indefinitely. That didn't help matters. Edit: Oh wait, there's something extremely amateur also. The music will frequently cut off for a few seconds and come back on, and sometimes the volume goes out of whack. It's almost like a bad connection.
Summary: In short, the new Prince of Persia Forgotten Sands feels like some shady third party game made to imitate a Prince of Persia game, almost like a Chinese clone of an Apple product. Terrible graphics, backwards and loose controls, bland platforming (aside from the water and memory powers), broken save function, pre-K story and script, one button jerky Dynasty Warriors combat, lackluster sound, uncooperative camera, and a general cheap feel and package make this a NO in my book.