Long before Assassin’s Creed snuck onto the scenes, Prince of Persia defined the action-adventure landscape, combining fluid, visceral combat with compelling platform segments. In fact, Sands of Time is widely considered one of the finest games of its genre, and laid the groundwork for countless sequels as well as Ubisoft’s own aforementioned historical stab-‘em-up series. Just have a go at ACII or Brotherhood’s infamous Tomb sequences and its impossible not to see the distinct PoP glow that emanates from the meticulously-timed jumping mechanics and superbly crafted level design.
As such, we were disappointed to learn this week that the status of PoP is firmly on pause, with Ubisoft not committing to any future releases at present. While this doesn’t spell the end of the franchise, it does mean we’re unlikely to see something for the immediate future. A shame, since as great as Assassin’s Creed is, we think it’s about time the dexterous and deadly Prince made a comeback after a three-year hiatus.
Unfortunately, the past few games have lacked the spark offered by the glorious Sands of Time and its sequels. The 2008 reboot packed sumptuously-realized visuals and offered a few new tweaks to the formula – notably the addition of a partner character – but ultimately these elements felt incongruous with the classic Prince of Persia paradigm. It also suffered from bland and repetitive combat, something which plagued 2010’s The Forgotten Sands, which while harkening back to a more familiar aesthetic didn’t really do anything new. This is definitely an area that could be overhauled for the future.
Prince of Persia is at its best when it’s offering platforming as its centrepiece, with combat coming a close second. Some of the best gameplay on offer came in Sands of Time, with satisfying platforming segments punctuating the more action-packed scenes. The storyline is also an aspect that has been heavily praised in the past, and the Prince himself is someone that can be explored further, especially if the developers decide to take the franchise in an entirely new direction.
Of course, rumors of a gritty reboot have been doing the rounds since last year, although it remains to be seen if that will materialize. However, providing Ubisoft can nail down where it wants to take the franchise – and more importantly, stick by it – then we’re definitely eager to see what they come up with.
What do you want to see from Prince of Persia going forward? Do you think the series still has a place alongside the likes of Assassin’s Creed and Tomb Raider? Let us know in the comments section below.