On September 10, Ubisoft announced a remake of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Fans of the series are now actively discussing the future game (especially how it looks in trailers), but for us this announcement is a good reason to recall the history of the Prince of Persia series, which was released on Kanoba in the first half of 2020.
In its 30 years of existence, Prince of Persia has had a huge impact on the gaming industry. Without Prince, we would hardly have seen Assassinʼs Creed, Mirrorʼs Edge, Tomb Raider and other games, whose creators were inspired by one of the first works of American game designer Jordan Meckner. This is the second part of the story of Prince of Persia, where we will talk about the cult Warrior Within in Russia and its direct sequel, The Two Thrones.
At the March 2004 DICE Summit in Las Vegas, Ubisoft confirmed that it was working on a sequel to The Sands of Time. And on the same day, it just so happened, the author of the series Jordan Meckner approached his Hollywood dream: the rights to film The Prince were bought by producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean, Bad Boys), who hired Meckner to write the script for the future film …
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Where did Prince of Persia go after The Two Thrones: film adaptation, remakes, new “Sands” and a VR game
And in the studio Ubisoft, responsible for games about Prince, in the meantime, work was in full swing. Even at an early stage of development, the developers decided to significantly change the style compared to the first game, but at the same time retain all the best that was in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time . So, in the “eastern” setting, elements of Gothic and architectural motives of Babylon and Mesopotamia appeared. In addition, the developers drew inspiration from The Lord of the Rings and even the Silent Hill series.
Also, producer Yannis Mallat noticed that in the first part, the Prince, in fact, canceled all his adventures, rewinding time to where it all began. Also, the fabulous mood of “Sands” clearly did not fit the new style and did not reflect all its seriousness. Therefore, the team invented such an unexpected scenario move: the Prince was to be paid for meddling in fate – he had to die.
One of the early trailers for Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
Based on this idea, the design of the hero himself was radically redesigned. The prince, who was previously an inquisitive adventurer and joker, has turned into a fierce warrior in the 7 years that have passed between the events of the two games. His body was covered with scars and tattoos, a sullen face betrayed him as a person always ready for battle, and his skill in using cold weapons increased many times over.
Remember Prince of Persia: Warrior Within?
Changes in the character of the Prince were reflected in the combat system, which now acquired a huge number of combinations combining brutal chopping and acrobatics. Enemies could be cut off their heads, their bodies cut into pieces. The opponents themselves, the sand monsters, became much more creepy: in hoarse voices, they continually shouted humiliating phrases against the Prince, piled on him in a crowd, growled and shouted.
The main find related to the gameplay, however, was the character – the demon Dahak, personifying fate itself. Knowing no rest, he non-stop pursued the hero to kill for interfering with the passage of time. It was unrealistic to defeat the demon in battle, so the Prince went to the mysterious Isle of Time to once again return to the past and prevent the creation of the Sands. Only in the way the hero hoped was it possible to get rid of the restless pursuer.
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within , known in Russia as “Prince of Persia: Fight with Destiny”, was released on November 30, 2004, however, although it overtook The Sand of Time in sales in the first months, reviews on it were mixed. Gray tones, swearing, blood, emphasis on battles and busty rivals of the Prince in armored bras unpleasantly surprised those who were expecting a traditional platform game with puzzles in Arabic style.
Nor was Jordan Meckner impressed, who told WIRED magazine: “The new artistic direction that brought the game an M rating was not to my liking. I didn’t like the story, the dialogue, the voice acting, or the way it all looks. ”
But those who did not have any problems with all this fell in love with the new game, and, despite the bugs, continued to explore all corners of the Island of Time in order to find secrets to achieve the “real” ending. And while the players were enjoying everything that Warrior Within had to offer, its creators began to crunch to release the completion of the trilogy within a year.
Return to Babylon
The leitmotif of Prince of Persia 3: Kindred Blades (this is how the third part was originally called) was the opposition of darkness and light within the Prince himself. This topic, by the way, was first raised back in 1989, when the hero stepped into a magic mirror that created his shadow copy.
The early version of the third part had two key differences from the final game – the open world and the appearance of the Dark Prince. In Kindred Blades, he looked like an ordinary Prince – long-haired, he only appeared when the player started the character on fire. Over time, the environment of the dark alter ego crumbled like sand – by this the authors wanted to show how the creatures generated by the Sands see the world.
Kindred Blades demo shown at E3 2005
None of this made it to release. Already in the final stages of development, the plot and the general tone of the game changed, and the topic of the split personality was simply forgotten. She was replaced by another idea: the Dark Prince appeared due to another interference in the time stream. Everything else – including the setting, locations, enemies and interface – remained almost unchanged.
Kindred Blades Trailer
At the same time, as the developers tried to find the line between the “fabulousness” of the first part and the “bloodthirstiness” of the second, they added new elements to the gameplay. This is how “quick kills” appeared in the game – short QTE-actions that could be performed before opponents noticed the hero. In addition, the team added a chariot race to the third part.
As for the Dark Prince, the gameplay for him was largely reminiscent of the episodes from the second part, where the hero put on the mask of the Sand Spirit, only this time a new weapon was added – the whip. The doppelganger used it both in battle and in order to jump on platforms. True, in the dark form, the Prince’s health was constantly decreasing – and it could be restored by extracting Sands from killed enemies or broken jugs. And to return to the previous, human form, you had to go into the water. There was no free switching between the two Princes – it only happened within the framework of the plot.
At the end of development, the influence of The Sands of Time in the concept still outweighed the second part, and as a result, this led to the fact that the Vizier again became the main villain: he killed the Empress of Time, which recreated the Sands. And in the fight against the “old” villain, Farah again joined the main character, familiar from the first part. The return of the Vizier and the girl was explained by the fact that in the new timeline there was no Sands of Time at all, as well as the events of The Sands of Time.
When the game was released (December 1, 2005), many had problems understanding the timeline in which the events of Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones took place . Those who understood the plot also had problems with some of the mechanics. Someone did not understand why in the game with an emphasis on well-developed battles, they made QTE, these fights are preventing. Others argued that the gameplay for the Dark Prince was too simple. And almost unanimously everyone insisted that the chariots should have been removed from the game at the very beginning of development.
Nobody, however, is perfect. Fans of the series turned a blind eye to the shortcomings – largely because of the perfected central mechanics, which boiled down to battles and acrobatics. The narrow streets of Babylon could be safely called a stone jungle, where many ledges and beams made it possible to quickly move through locations, practically without touching the ground. And the plot, although he began to eat his own tail over time, adequately completed the story of the Prince: the hero defeated the Vizier and his dark side, and became king.
The high ratings have made Sands of Time one of the most successful and highly acclaimed trilogies on the sixth generation of consoles. And while Warrior Within and The Two Thrones didn’t set any sales records, they certainly helped keep The Sands of Time in front of players long enough for the first part to sell over 14 million copies to date.
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