STAFF REVIEW of Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (Xbox)

Monday, January 17, 2005.
by Tony Ingrassia

Prince of Persia:  Warrior Within Box art When we last romped through challenging, beautiful, lush areas with our favorite Prince in Sand of Time, one of last years marks of greatness, the experience was more than exciting and well worth the price of admission. Now fast forward to the sophomore effort of the next gen revival from the talented folks at Ubi Soft, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. Our Prince is back and ready to take us on an adventure of a lifetime; does this new and improved Prince dodge the ?Sophomore? jinx? Read on and find out.

POP:Warrior Within is the newest installment of the Prince of Persia franchise from Ubi Soft. Last years Sands of Time surprised many with its visual style and impressive storyline, not to mention the high flying acrobatics our hero could pull off. Warrior Within not only meets the standards set by its predecessor, but surpasses it in a lot of ways. Not without a few minor issues, Ubi Soft shatters the sophomore jinx and hits this one out of the park and into a completely new and exciting world.

Let?s start with the obvious, WW is a much darker game than sands was, not only in scenery but our hero himself seems to have matured and become quite a bad !&%$@#* in the process, not that that?s a bad thing mind you, just that It could have been so easy to keep the style of the game intact and just continue on with the adventure, but our pals at Ubi took the time to recognize what they had in Sands, and kicked it up a notch. The great story telling is back with WW, and the cut scenes are a thing to behold, but none of this would matter if the game play were lack luster.

From the beginning of the game you?re pretty much thrown into the heat of the action, the 1st ?Level? if you will, begins your training of the fighting system and all its new attributes. The fighting system has been opened up quite impressively, unlike the scripted moves of sands, WW offers dual wielding offering up a new set of combos to be executed. Hitting an enemy with a single weapon can start a string of minor attacks or use your athletic abilities to hop over your enemy and execute a new string of combos, from a behind the back strangle hold to a powerful, and quite grotesque, beheading. And if a simple beheading is still not enough, brace yourself for splitting your enemy in half, I?m not talking across the waist mind you, no, no, no, I?m talking from the top of his head to his zipper. Your attack options change once again with your acrobatic abilities, swinging around poles or off walls lends themselves nicely when you?re in a crowd. You can also gather up weapons from the baddies you have slain or from a weapon rack you stumble across, improving your chances against some truly capable enemies as you find your self moving deeper into this story. When I started out I have to admit there was a fair share of button mashing, but as I settled down against my 1st challenging foe and my 5th ?Try Again? I realized that there is a bit of planning and strategy involved depending on who your enemy is.

Speaking of the story, WW has a great story and characters to bring this package together. As those of you who played Sands of Time know, our Prince was supposed to die at the end of the story, now without spoiling too much, fate has decided to make good on its promises to take the Princes life, this time in a very real, very scary creature by the name of Dahaka. How do you get death off your behind, well since all of this started because of the Sands of Time, what if the sands never existed? Sounds simple, but it would be kind of a dull game if it were that simple. The story has some great plot twists and definite ?No Way!? moments. That?s all you get for now, it?s just refreshing to play a game that takes the story and truly makes it part of the game rather than just the ?Framework? of it.

The other aspect of WW is the adventure, wall running and swinging from bars was never so much fun. In WW Ubi takes it a step further and test your exploratory abilitie and your sense of reasoning. Like a big puzzle, some of the areas you need to maneuver are bordering on impossible at first glance, but study your surroundings a bit and you will notice, all be it slight, a way to get were your going. Added to the acrobatic package this time around are curtain drops, sliding down curtains or tapestries slowing yourself down with a weapon dug into it brought back images of Errol Flynn, I know I?m dating myself a bit.

A few things making their return in Warrior Within are the Time Powers and Health power ups. The Time Powers work the same way as they have in the past, with the exception of not having to manually extract ?Sands? from fallen enemies, this time around its automatic, walk by them and they get sucked in. Water is still your friend in terms of health in Warrior Within; drink it up whenever and wherever you can to keep that tank full and ready for the next encounter.

The audio dept of Warrior Within, while being acceptable, is a little off in my opinion. Not that it?s a major thing, but the heavy metal soundtrack was a little over the top in my opinion, I know it probably played into the edgier look of WW, but I think a stronger orchestral soundtrack like the one in Sands would have more to my liking. The dialogue is also in the acceptable department, a little corny some times, but nothing to take away from the overall enjoyment of the game. The sound effects and ambient sounds are perfectly placed drawing you deeper into the games adventure and story.

The newest addition to Warrior Within is the inclusion of Xbox Live capabilities, grant it there are no head to head type games, but the offerings are just as much fun. Time Attack Mode is simple in principle; get through the map as fast as you can. Keep in mind this is the high flying, pole swinging, Prince we?re talking about, and a simple beat the clock turns into a sweaty palmed nightmare, but a fun one. Arena Survival Mode pits you against wave after wave of enemies in a series of arenas, with an increasing difficulty level. All of this gets entered into the XBL Scoreboards and if your good enough you can see your name in XBL history for all of your to admire. And if that were not enough you can download new maps for both Live modes to keep things interesting.

All in all Prince of Persia: Warrior Within is like watching a great adventure story on a Saturday afternoon, with the added dimension that YOU get to be the hero, well crafted and a wonder to look at, I can?t see WW not appealing to all gamers, there is enough excitement and challenge to meet even the pickiest gamers appetite. Once again I find myself offering up kudos to Ubi on a job well done, and pushing that proverbial bar up another notch or two.

No more heavy metal...LOL

Overall: 9.6 / 10
Gameplay: 9.6 / 10
Visuals: 9.8 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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