skrutop's Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (Xbox) review

Warrior Within drops the PoP series off a cliff.

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (WW) just went wrong somewhere. It's really a combination of a few different things, but where The Sands of Time (SOT) just felt right as a whole game, WW does not. The major areas that I paid attention to are the new combat system, the puzzles and how difficult they were due to sloppy controls and poor camera angles, the unwise change to an "extreme" theme, and the crappy audio on the Xbox version.

The game itself hasn't changed that much since SOT, with the exception of how combat handles. There's a whole system of moves and combos based on button presses, which is a step up from the simple 6-hit combo and stab with the dagger from SOT. You can pick up different offhand weapons and dole out major amounts of two-handed justice, but in the end the experience is still repetitive. There are a few moments where battles are mixed up, but mostly you'll just use the same tactics over and over again.

The time powers aren't all that different from before. Likely, you'll find that the "rewind time" and "slow-motion" powers are all you'll need. You can go into a Wolverine style berserker rage, and do an earthquake style attack, but really you'll keep your sands filled to use when you mistime a jump.

The puzzles themselves are a carbon copy of the stuff that you did in SOT. The biggest difference that I found in WW was that the camera was always in the position that made it the hardest to judge distance. I'm sure the camera angles looked spectacular from a cinematography standpoint, but they really sucked in terms from a gameplay standpoint. This might fit in with the new "dark" theme, which I'll get to in a bit.

The biggest problem with the puzzles was that the controls felt sloppy. It could be that I couldn't judge distance as well, but I never remember making as many poorly timed jumps in SOT. In WW, it felt like I was pressing the button a half-second too late, so I adjusted accordingly. I can count on one hand the number of jumps that I missed by jumping early. I can't count on ten people’s hands the number that I missed because I jumped late.

The "extreme" theme was horrible. I guess you're supposed to think of the Prince as being a total badass, but it was forced. I liked the somewhat soft and younger prince from SOT; he had charisma. The new Prince has a permascowl and looks like he's trying to be tough and pissy. I'd rather think of the Prince as an acrobat first and a fighter second. Ubisoft, however, disagrees with me.

Lastly, the Xbox version had audio glitches, which were mentioned in the GS review. They happened constantly. The audio, particularly the background music, would just suddenly cut out. It was really, really annoying. Supposedly the 'Cube doesn't have this glitch; I'd get that version. If you're interested in having Xbox Live support, don't bother. The features are worthless.

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