We recently visited Ubisoft's lovely Montreal offices and obtained detailed information
on the latest Prince of Persia game, subtitled The Two Thrones. Aside from that exclusive preview, we also provided a nicely cut video interview
and a quick feature on the game's new art direction
Today we're going to top our continuing Two Thrones coverage off with updated impressions of a more recent build, compilation movies of action contained in that build, and a few music tracks to prove once and for all that Godsmack and its special brand of rockin' have been removed from the Prince's royal presence.
According to official materials accompanying our rev, Two Thrones is at varying states of completion. Music and sound are about 60% done, graphics are roughly 80% complete, AI is at about 70%, special effects are hovering around 70%, and the camera is also said to be approximately 70% optimized. This is all according to the developers, not our own estimation. And yet despite the unfinished nature of the build, comprised entirely of eight disparate maps, Two Thrones is still very enjoyable. This is because the base mechanics are quite awesome indeed.
The major addition to this year's Persian adventure is the speed kill system. It's a method to bypass lengthy combat scenarios by quickly and viciously dispatching enemies via a rhythmic mini-game. Simply, if the Prince gains an advantage over his enemy, by catching them unaware, he'll be prompted into a context sensitive series of actions that allow him to take down foes with dazzling and brutal swipes, stabs and slashes. The coolest part about the speed kill system is that's a direct extension of the already terrific platforming.
Let's say there's a group of guards patrolling a nearby area. When the Prince approaches a certain point, an icon will prompt him to snap into a panoramic view of his immediate vicinity (puzzles and combat encounters are no longer spelled out by non-interactive cutscenes). Once the Prince gets a good lay of his land, he can climb, swing, run, vault, roll, scurry, shimmy, and dangle his way into a position that grants him an advantage over his opponents. The only way to obtain this advantage is to use the cool platforming. And since the successful implementation of the stealth kill is so freaking satisfying versus the often challenging multi-opponent combat, players will definitely want to get into platforming so that they can do all the speedy slays.
This integration of rhythmic speed killing into the backbone of Prince's fantastic platforming should significantly add to the franchise and more seamlessly tie together various components of the game without detracting from any single aspect.
Of course, non-lethal adventuring is still present in great abundance. And though we haven't been propelled into an engaging story, because our build is made of just those eight little levels with no connection to one another, we have at least scrambled through decadent palaces, burning streets, rumbling caverns and breathtaking rooftops.
At several points we were funneled into more planned and scripted events. The first of which was the memorable chariot race, in which a pursued Prince has to escape a legion of sand infected monsters by driving a wild horse drawn chariot through Babylon's perilous streets and back alleys. The control here is very smooth and the on-rails racing complete with boarding soldiers and daring leaps of faith resembles a fast action scene from Indiana Jones, or perhaps that car chase from the original Mummy, where zombified humans threw their own safety to the wind and attempted to claw up the speeding car.
The second major event we encountered was the infamous gladiatorial boss. This lumbering jawless giant wields an enormous scimitar that's more girder than blade. He uses it to swipe across the ground with titanic power, while his boulder-like fists hammer and jab at the Prince and his massive ungainly paws grab and toss our hero around like a lifeless ragdoll.
The camera here centers on the 50 ft. behemoth, built like a stout mountain. It also hints that we'll need to run around the sides of the arena looking for way to gain an advantage over his enormous frame. Once we found the correct path, a few quick leaps and swings let us jump clear across the arena and grapple onto the beast by plunging our dagger into its sickly hide for leverage. The rest was a quick God of War-ish mini-game of stab and seek. After repeating this process a few times from a few different angles, we managed to stab out both of the creature's eyes, double him over, mount his back, and tear gaping wounds from neck to knee. It was pretty cool -- way cooler than leather skank from Warrior Within, anyway.
It's just unfortunate our build isn't more complete, because we really, really want to play more. The boys behind PoP have always stated that they save the easy stuff for last. Tying the missions together, voicing it all, scripting the cutscenes, and liberally applying the developer's trademark style and polish is easy to them. But these new base mechanics...the fluidity, the responsiveness, the new animations, the integral speed kill system, the enhanced platforming...hot damn does it ever look good!
If you don't believe us, check out our attached compilation video.
Personally, I was a huge Sands of Time fan, but was rather disappointed by the generically darker Warrior Within. Its excessive combat and uninspired boss fights saddened me and the music...Heaven help us! That being said, I anticipate Two Thrones more than any other action platformer on the horizon. I sincerely believe it will rekindle that graceful magic fans of the series found Warrior Within neglected. I believe also that the new additions will reinvigorate the franchise and lend a greater sense of empowerment to players. I also think Ubisoft is doing a wonderful job with the art and music. The art we've already glanced at. As for the tunes, Ubi was considerate enough to provide us with a few tracks you all can stream for free. Enjoy them and praise the company's decision to axe all things Godsmack.
The Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones soundtrack will be available for free to gamers who preorder any version of Prince of Persia via the official Prince website. [LINK]
Additionally, the soundtrack will also be available to gamers who preorder their copy at EB Games, GameStop or Game Crazy.
Please note that the game will be available on December 1st for GameCube, PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox at an MSRP of approximately 50 dollars, American.
Here're a few songs from the soundtrack:
Track One -- 3:52 [STREAM]
Track Two -- 4:21 [STREAM]
Track Three -- 4:27 [STREAM]
Expect more Two Thrones details as we near the game's release. This should include updated impressions, more videos, more features, a full review, and even some sort of video review. It's content for a king...or Prince.
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