Prince of Persia: The Fallen KingESRB:
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Touch Screen Compatible
While at the Ubisoft booth at E3 in LA this year, I had a chance to sit down with one of the developers of Prince of Persia: The Fallen King for the DS and give the game a spin. Overall I was impressed with the demo as the 2D platformer showed lots of promise. Having recently reviewed Prince of Persia for the Xbox 360 I was very curious to see how the Prince would make the transition from next-generation console to Nintendo’s handheld gaming machine. There is no way The Fallen King could measure up to the look of its Xbox 360 counterpart, so I did not go in with over-the-top expectations. My main goal going into this review was that I was interested to see how this game would play out on the DS and if The Fallen King should go under Christmas trees galore next week. Let’s find out shall we.
Visually, Prince of Persia: The Fallen King is a decent looking game. It won’t blow you away but at the very least The Fallen King does the franchise proud as it manages to look pretty darn good on the DS. Considering the limitations of the Nintendo’s dual screened wonder the developers managed to do a wonderful job maximizing the hardware. Not only does it stay true to the overall look and feel of the franchise but also manages to make a game which is a little more kid friendly.
For starters the characters seem to have a cute and ‘cartoony’ feel to them. They are miniature versions of their big brother on the Xbox 360 or PS3. The character animations do not blow you away as they do on the home consoles, but the more kid friendly look is executed quite nicely. Many hard core Prince of Persia fans may not like how the game has taken a different approach with the characters, but I believe it was a necessary move to attract the youngsters. My only concern would be that the characters could have been a little bigger. But I admit I am nitpicking a bit here.
The majority of The Fallen King takes place in desert lands, temples, cavernous ruins and large caves. It is all in 2D and nothing is incredibly innovative in this department. That being said, it suits the game. The only drawback would be many of the areas can seem similar to others. For instance many of the large cavernous regions are hard to differentiate from one to another. I would have liked to have seen a little more variety in this area. Nevertheless, they look good and the areas are nicely laid-out and very clear.
In terms of the sound, The Fallen King is a pretty good sounding game. Granted most DS games do not blow you away in the sound department and The Fallen King is no different. However, whether it be hopping from one ledge to another or slicing a boulder, the sounds in The Fallen King suit the game. The games soundtrack can be very repetitive and will grate you after awhile. Yet, it is what I expected. There is also no voice work in the game but instead you get scrolling dialog text. This is a bit of a setback but likely more reflective of the limitations of the DS. The combat sounds can also be a little lackluster at times, however at the end of the day The Fallen King is solid in the audio department.
The Fallen King closely resembles the storyline in the Xbox 360 version of the game. It is set in a land rooted in ancient Persian mythology. Our hero, the Prince, finds himself in the middle of a battle between good and evil, unfortunately evil is winning the battle. The Prince, along with Zal the Magus (sorry fellas the sexy Elika has been replaced with Magus), must embark on a journey to defeat the corruption and stop the evil king before he spreads his corruption across Persia. Of course the story goes much deeper than this but you get the point as The Fallen King boils down to a simple story of good versus evil.
The story provides a decent premise for the game but I had a difficult time staying interested. I found it somewhat linear and simplistic, not to mention I did not find myself getting attached to any of the characters or the banter between the Prince and Magus. As noted earlier on, the story is told via scrolling text usually displayed at the beginning and end of a level. The DS version has a much deeper story than I envisioned but bottomline I never found myself really getting into it.
Where I really got my real enjoyment out of the game was traversing the various levels in the game. Moving your character is accomplished with the stylus and you use no buttons or analog pad to control the Prince in any manner. At first it feels awkward but once you get used to the controls it works quite well. The stylus is used to guide the Prince along ledges, walking, sprinting, slicing boulders with his sword, and battling enemies. The game’s first few levels do a nice job with an in-game tutorial of sorts as you progress and the instructions were so clear and understandable that even my 6-year old daughter had no problem picking up the and playing the game.
The Fallen King is a 2D platformer. There are a lot of elements missing from the home console versions. Nevertheless, the heart of the franchise with all the jumping, climbing and death defying moves we have come to love are here in the DS version. The levels are linear, however getting from point A to point B can be lots of fun.
As with the Xbox 360 version of the game, the combat system is not as satisfying as it should. Defeating characters is far too easy and you are limited in terms of the different types of combat combinations available to you. Fighting mechanics essentially amount to moving the stylus in a singular motion on the DS's touch screen or just tapping the enemy with it. This action moves the Prince's sword in a slicing motion. Most enemies take only a few blows and don't give you much of a challenge. On the other hand the boss fights can be a bit of challenge but it does not take you long to figure out how to beat them. I should mention however the little ones may have some problems with the boss fights.
As you progress in the game you are introduced to Magus and eventually have the opportunity to take control of him. All you have to do is press any button on the DS. This allows you to take control of the Magus and his powers. Unlike the Prince, Magus can fire energy orbs to assist the Prince in not only defeating enemies but opening passageways as well. There are also some interactive objectives where the Magus’ powers are put to the test in order to get to the end of a certain objective.
There are no light seeds featured in the The Fallen King so once you have completed the game there really isn't much in the way of replay value. There is no online multiplayer component and no co-op mode. A co-op mode would have been fantastic but sadly such a mode is absent.
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