Princes, questionable

So, I’ve been coming to terms with the news that a family member passed away recently.  It wasn’t entirely unexpected – she was 93 years old and had been having a pretty bad summer of things – but it’s still one of those things that’s a little hard to fully process.

For the meantime, though, I’m going to continue with my habit of talking about games that everyone else played through a year ago, in this case the latest Prince of Persia game and its subsequently-released epilogue level.

The last time the Prince of Persia series got a complete revamp, the result was one of the best games I’ve ever played.  It was atmospheric, funny, suspenseful, and – oh, yeah – right at the top end of my personal difficulty curve.

It was also followed by a sequel that completely destroyed my interest in the series.  Kind of like Tomb Raider II, there.

On the other hand, much like Lara, the prince has gotten another chance at things with a reboot.

Not that it’s the same prince, mind you, or even a prince at all.  He’s actually a thief who specializes in, well, tombs.  So uh, they could have called it “Tomb Raider of Persia”, but that leads to confusion and I guess they figured they’d go with the old name and avoid getting sued for the sake of accuracy.

I played through it last week, and it was, well, probably the prettiest game I’ve ever played.  It’s also pretty damn funny most of the time, though it does occasionally slow down the quips for the sake of occasional dramatic bits, and the prince’s companion Eliza is on the far end of the scale that sidekicks like Yorda are on the other end of.  Nothing against Yorda, mind you, but I can report that I never once felt like knocking off work early and abandoning Elika to shadow monsters.

Oh, and it’s easy.  Super easy.  Seriously.  I mean, it was generally hard to die in Sands of Time, but I wasn’t able to find ANY way to die in the new game.

Not being able to die doesn’t mean that it wasn’t challenging, at times.  The platforming bits do test your reflexes and timing, and you get a deep feeling of accomplishment and reward when you pull off a particularly tricky bit.

So it’s got that going for it, and I highly recommend it.

I’ve seen lots of complaints that it didn’t have a proper ending, and I will admit that the ending it does have is a shameless – TRULY shameless – setup for a sequel.

So when I got to the end, I decided I’d buy the Epilogue levels and give them a run.

I’ve made worse mistakes, but this was still kind of a dumb move.

The Epilogue is 10 bucks, lacks most of the charm of the main game, throws the whole “pretty” motif out the window, and is bloody hard, particularly the combat.  It’s not so much that you do a lot more fighting or that the developers didn’t bother making any new enemy models, it’s that the mindless soldiers you fought so often in the first game gained new abilities, all of which seem to revolve around hitting you through blocks, stun-locking you, and being generally frustrating.

The boss fights, oddly enough, aren’t at all frustrating.  It’s the small fry that are the pains.

Oh, and it ends with a cliffhanger, even more annoying than the original cliffhanger, and there’s no way to make a single sequel that works as a follow-up to the epilogue that will also work as a follow-up to the main game, so I am forced to wonder if they’ll even acknowledge it in future or just try to come up with a compromise.

So to sum up: Buy Prince of Persia, if for some reason you didn’t do so in the last year, play it. enjoy it, and don’t bother with the DLC.

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