By Neil Schneider
You leap across a chasm to a flat vertical wall. You grapple across the wall and seemingly defy gravity. Just as gravity starts to take hold and your grasp ebbs away, you leap…but miscalculate your landing. As you fall to your death, you scream “Elikaaaaaa”, and a magical hand pulls you to safety so you can try jumping the ledge all over again.
This is the nature of Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia: a chasm jumping middle-eastern romp of magic, swash buckling, mystery, and monsters.
Known only as the Prince, you are an adventurer who had the misfortune of losing a donkey carrying all your riches in a sandstorm. To add insult to injury, you fall into a cavern and stumble upon a damsel in distress who is running away from sword wielding foot soldiers. After learning the basics of wall crawling, jumping, and acrobatic combat, the adventure begins.
Elika is a Princess, and together you return to her kingdom and witness her father break the bond that keeps a demon named Ahriman imprisoned in the kingdom’s core. With Ahriman’s impending escape, the world is covered with evil sludge called “corruption”, and it is up to you and Elika to restore the prison bonds, bring the land back to its former beauty, and figure out what the heck has gotten into her father!
The kingdom is made up of “fertile grounds”, and is divided into four quarters. Each quarter is protected by a guardian : The Hunter, The Alchemist, The Concubine, and The Warrior. Your job is to defeat each of these guardians so Elika can use her magic powers and free the fertile grounds from Ahriman’s grasp one by one.
Getting from point A to point B is the biggest part of the game. Prince of Persia is an endless adventure of leaping, grasping, crawling, and sliding. It will take some practice, but you will eventually have the finesse to jump on a wall, gallop across it vertically, jump in the nick of time, and slide down a slope only to leap to a dangling pillar…hopefully. Practice, practice, practice!
Once you reach your destination, you need to defeat each guardian. Don’t let the first fight fool you! As you progress, your opponents grow stronger and more complex. For example, you can start with just sword play, but eventually you will have to use Elika’s magic attacks, and then you will need to make instant choices of whether or not to attack with a sword, your gauntlet, Elika’s magic, or a combination of all three.
With each defeat, the guardian will move on, and Elika can release the fertile ground. Once released, energy orbs appear all over the area. You need to capture as many of these orbs as possible so you can unlock portions of the kingdom and complete the adventure.
Did I mention getting from point A to point B gets more difficult too? The walls get slimier with poisonous “corruption”, more monsters appear along the way, and there are a few puzzles that need to be solved.
What makes Prince of Persia unique is the imaginative graphics. It has the look of a skilled sketch artist, with imagery that is enhanced to a level that makes every scene dynamically artistic. I can’t think of any other games that look quite like this.
Unfortunately, while I enjoyed the game, I have to say it was much too formulaic and repetitive. While the scenery is visually stunning with top notch graphics, and the game itself was creative with very diverse environments to explore, all in all I found Prince of Persia to be too simple. There wasn’t enough depth to the story, there were very few roadblocks that required a lot of brain power, and there weren’t enough surprises to make me curious enough to really want to see what happens next. I did finish the game, however!
The iZ3D testing machine is based on the following specs:
AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
AMD 4850 GPU
Vista 32 Bit
iZ3D 22” Monitor
Prince of Persia is success in stereoscopic 3D with no anomalies at the highest settings. The shadows, the post processing effects, the backdrop – just about everything is rendered as it should be.
The only problem with this title is the cut-scene camera angles are inconsistent compared to most of the game play. For example, the game will look great, but when you make a mistake and Elika has to save you from a death defying fall, the separation will be too high around her rescuing arm.
My recommendation is when the Prince is centered on your screen, push the mouse up so the Prince is as close to you as possible. Watching with your naked eye, increase your convergence or pop-out experience until the Prince is just a little doubled. The game will still feature more depth inside the screen, but you will still get some pop-out effects and not have the cut-scene problem described above.
iZ3D’s 1.10 Beta 3 driver currently supports DirectX 9, and you can expect very playable performance on low to mid-range GPUs like NVIDIA 8800 series and ATI 3870 series GPUs.
Our NVIDIA solution is based on the following specifications:
AMD Athlon 64X2 AM2, 4400+ 2.3Ghz
PC2-5300 4GB RAM
NVIDIA 8800GTS 512
Vista 32 Bit
Zalman Interlaced 22” Monitor
MTBS is still awaiting samples from NVIDIA for their GeForce 3D Vision solution. These tests are based on their 182.07 Stereo Drivers for the Zalman interlaced 3D monitor.
The NVIDIA driver has the advantage of supporting DirectX 10 graphics on paper, but you must reduce graphics settings to “medium” or you will get several anomalies during the game.
With the reduced settings, I can find few differences between the iZ3D and NVIDIA experience, with the exception that the glow effects are gone and some post processing effects disappear when played with NVIDIA’s stereo drivers.
The camera angle problem is identical with both the iZ3D and NVIDIA driver solutions, so I recommend following the same advice I gave for the iZ3D solution. However, remember to activate the “convergence” feature in NVIDIA’s advanced settings. Convergence is controlled by the CTRL-F5 and CTRL-F6 keys, not the depth wheel!
Expect very playable performance on an 8800 series GPU or better.
If there was a title that expressed how breathtaking graphics do not always add up to a great game, Prince of Persia would be it. While it will give hours of enjoyment, it will take time to grow interesting, and more time to finish once the interest wears thin.
For a stereoscopic 3D game, it works well with few anomalies on both the iZ3D and NVIDIA solutions. Unfortunately, due to camera angle restraints, you will get a limited mix of depth and pop-out effects in this game on both solutions.
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