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Grab a seat
The Two Thrones even gives you a choice
BY AARON SOLOMON

Donít worry, theyíve pretty much dispensed with the crappy metal soundtrack this time around. That should come as welcome news to those who loved Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time as much as they hated its sequel, Prince of Persia: The Warrior Within. The Prince here is also in a slightly better mood than he was in Warrior, though itís hard to crack a smile when your city lies in ruins and youíre suffering from split personality.

The third title in the series picks up immediately after the events of The Warrior Within. The Prince and his new love, Kaileena, sail home to Babylon to find his city burning, the work of the dastardly vizier, the long-thought dead enemy from The Sands of Time. Kaileena is killed; that unleashes the sands of time on Babylon and turns the vizier into something straight out of the imagination of Vincent DíOnofrio from The Cell. Oh, yeah, it also leaves you horribly scarred and able to make a dramatic transformation at all the most convenient times.

The task is a simple take-back-the-city story set to atmospheric Middle Eastern music. Itís really about jumping and climbing and running along walls ó everything youíve come to expect from any Prince of Persia title. Environmental puzzles still rule the day, and the camera periodically switches to a landscape view (when prompted) for those situations that require a little more stealth and finesse. The fighting in The Two Thrones is still a hectic delight, though once again the instruction manual is filled with three pages of what amounts to a glorified road map for button mashing.

One of the main points of this game is the opportunity to play also as the Dark Prince, though the commercials are a bit misleading, since you can do so only when the story calls for it, such as when you need to make a quick exit via some hanging light poles with your new daggertail, at which point a transformation animation takes over. Itís an arbitrary way of incorporating the Dark Prince, but that doesnít make all the wall running and light-pole swinging any less fun. The excitement level rises a notch at these points, as the Dark Prince needs to fight and then absorb the sand energy of his foes. Otherwise he dies a dramatic video-game death.

The other major addition to the Prince of Persia canon, apart from the Burnout-meets-Ben-Hur-style chariot races, is the " Speed Kill " feature, where you sneak up behind your enemies and wait for your dagger to light up like Sting (Frodoís sword, not the Tantric sex master). You can attempt to Speed Kill multiple enemies at once; if youíre successful, theyíll dissolve into piles of sand, leaving their swords and maces behind for you to pick up. If youíre too late in hitting the button, youíll have to face your foe the old-fashioned sportsmanlike way, but if you have enough sand in your inventory, you can rewind time and try, try again.

The game looks beautiful. Aside from some occasionally awkward (especially during some boss battles) camera angles and not-so-smooth Dark Prince controls (not to mention the curious point at which an Asian women begins reading through what sounds like staff credits), itís a flawless affair.

Final Score: 8.0/10


Issue Date: January 6 - 12, 2006
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