Prince of Persia   The Two ThronesI’ve been an avid follower of the Prince of Persia franchise since Ubisoft revived the legend with its ground breaking Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time back in 2003. This was followed up by the blood-thirsty Prince of Persia: Warrior Within and now Ubisoft finally brings the Sands of Time trilogy to a close with the absolutely stellar Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones.

If you arent familiar with any of the preceding two Prince of Persia titles, then you basically need to know that the game is a 3rd person action/adventure title that involves a lot of acrobatic jumping, navigation/environment puzzles, trap circumvention, a solid combat system and a whole lot of very cool time related powers.

The story of the Sands of Time trilogy began with the prince’s army attacking and conquering the capital of the Indian empire. In the midst of the battle, however, an evil vizier caused the release of the sands of time, wreaking havoc over the city and the surrounding countryside. The prince and an Indian princess named Farah battled together to defeat the vizier, bottle up the sands, and restore the world to a normal state. The story continued in Warrior Within, where an embittered Prince set sail for the Island of Time, seeking sanctuary from an unstoppable time creature called the Dahaka who pursued him endlessly because of his part in unleashing the sands of time. There, the Prince battled not only the Dahaka but also Kaileena, the Empress of Time.

The Two Thrones begins with the Prince returning to Babylon from the Island of Time with the mortal Kaileena as his new lover (this part of the plot may be confusing to those who didn’t see the alternate ending of Warrior Within). As they pull in to the harbor at Babylon, the duo finds the city under siege. Their ship is wrecked by the invaders, and Kaileena is captured by the enemies. You quickly find that the vizier is back and responsible for the uprising. He murders Kaileena and unleashes the sands of time upon Babylon, and the Prince must battle to regain his kingdom and avenge Kaileena’s death.

Apart from the sheer joy derived from controlling the monkey-like prince (with the usual tight controls youve come to expect from the franchise), probably the most outstanding feature from this set of games has always been the ability to rewind time, allowing you to correct any mistakes you make. The game literally records your progress while you play, and should you invoke the rewind time option, your playback is rewound and you are left at a point in the past (whenever you decide to stop rewinding). – All the usual powers and moves have been retained, but one or two new jumping aids have been introduced which do go a far way in increasing the variety of environmental puzzles on offer.

The most profound change in this game has to be the introduction of the princes twin – identity, the Dark Prince. A different weapon and slightly different move set makes for an enjoyable switch from the Prince and adds a new level to a tried and tested game platform.

The game also introduces a speed kill system which allows you to practice sneaking up on enemies, initiating a speed skill sequence in which you need to time a button press in order to take them out. This adds a welcome element of stealth to a game, but you will be pleased to know that you don’t have to use it unless you actually like skulking around.

As per usual the environments are breathtakingly gorgeous. Expansive, detailed environments keep the eye busy and the variety is wide enough to ensure you never get bored. The character models are all beautifully rendered and the animations are generally quite fluid and well done. However, I must make mention that the PS2 suffers horribly from slow down, particularly in the sections where you play as the Dark Prince. It would seem the rendering of his whip is just a little too much for this old hardware to bear.

I just wish they’d replace the stupid animations employed when breaking objects – it has always looked kind of out of place to me.

Sound wise it seems as if all the old voice actors have been retained, making for perfect continuity. The sound effects are rich and vibrant as always and the strong musical score fits the era and location just perfectly.

The campaign should take you around 10 to 15 hours to complete, but don’t be surprised if you race through it easily enough – the difficulty level seems to have been lowered slightly, especially for the jumping puzzles in my opinion. That could of course just be because I am fairly familiar with the franchise already, so I am slightly biased. The story maintains the same epic feel as the previous two instalments and marries the first two titles seamlessly into the third. The humour and action that Prince of Persia is known for has been maintained and to be honest, you will be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable title.

Do yourself a favour and pick up all three, it is most definitely money well spent. Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones is a worthy finish to this wonderfully enthralling trilogy.
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