Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: April 3, 2007
Ever since the introduction of the Wii's intriguing controller, lots of developers have wanted to try out their franchises with motion-sensitive controls, and as with all endeavors, it's been hit and miss. Ubisoft has decided to test drive its Prince of Persia franchise on the Wii, but they played it safe by tacking on motion-sensitive controls to a game that's already been released. That's right; Prince of Persia: Rival Swords is actually the third PoP game, Two Thrones, which you probably played on a last-generation system nearly two years ago.
While the second game, Warrior Within, diverted from expectations by focusing on his internal struggle, Rival Swords puts the spotlight back on the Vizier, who aims to control the Sands of Time. As you're sailing back to your palace, you see that it's under his control, so you set out to reclaim your kingdom. In no time, you become infected with the sands, and your alternate personality rears its ugly head.
Similar to the last couple of titles in the franchise, Rival Swords is all about platforming in the most acrobatic way. Each area is laid out so that you must wall-run, climb columns, shimmy, jump, and flip around poles to get to where you need to go. The jumping and wall-running are performed by pressing the A and B buttons, respectively. Your little crush, Farah, returns from Sands of Time, so many of the puzzles will be an effort to meet up with her whenever you both get split up.
Some new ways of getting around are also introduced. At times, there are shutters open which you can wall-run to and then press A to jump diagonally off of them. Moreover, you can latch onto some gold panels located on the wall by swinging the Wiimote to use your dagger. Of course, transforming into the Dark Prince adds one more level of gymnastic transportation, as his chain can be used to latch onto certain objects to swing across areas.
The combat has been fleshed out a bit to add a stealth feature called Speed Kills. When you're near an enemy, the Prince crouches down so you can creep toward the foe. If the enemy's back is turned and you're close enough, you can swipe the nunchuk downwards to initiate a Speed Kill. The Prince slashes the enemy a number of times, and with each stab, time slows and you have to swing the Wiimote downwards to pierce. Unfortunately, this system necessitates quickness, which is sometimes difficult to achieve with the Wiimote. It can become extremely frustrating when you want to Speed Kill an enemy but it doesn't feel like the game is registering your movements.
When can't sneak up on an enemy, though, attack 'em head on. As the normal Prince, you have the Dagger of Time, but you can also pick up any weapon an enemy drops and use it as your secondary weapon. However, this sword, mace, or axe has a damage meter and will break after extended use. When you are transformed into the Dark Prince (which seems to happen at random), you don't have the use of a secondary weapon but can use his chain to attack by moving the nunchuk. Using the movements of the Wiimote and nunchuk, you can do plenty of combos by swinging them in the right order, but this can quickly degenerate into simple arm-flailing to survive the fights.
It wouldn't be a Prince of Persia game without sand powers, right? Nothing is new here, but you can still turn back and slow down time and use a knockback attack in battle. Collecting sands becomes even more important in this game. In the Dark Prince form, your health is constantly draining, and you can only replenish it with the sands. It is an interesting concept, but the first time you transform, you will probably forget about the health drain and die.
A new addition to the Wii iteration of the game is the chariot race. While you only have to race a handful of times, the controls are very tight and make it tough to turn. This becomes an issue when you need to avoid barriers lest your chariot explode, because once that happens, you must turn back time to undo the mistake of stupidly running into a blockade.
I have to say that the environment is not that appealing to play in. Every place seems filtered in a drab, sand-like color (boy, I wonder why), and it makes the entire game slightly dull. While the cut scenes look great, the graphics were not beefed up at all and are not an improvement from Two Thrones.
It's kind of annoying that Ubisoft misled the public by giving this a new name of Prince of Persia: Rival Swords, when it's simply a port of Two Thrones with tacked-on motion controls. While some of Prince's acrobatic movements are decent with the Wiimote, the combat — especially the Speed Kill — suffers badly, and overall, the game performed better with a tradition control scheme. If you haven't played Two Thrones, the third Prince of Persia title, go ahead and buy it for the Gamecube, seeing as you can play it on your Wii anyway — and for a much cheaper price tag.
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