Prince of Persia
The Two Thrones

Format: Xbox

3 307210 202468
Age Restrictions: 16+
09 December 2005

You are the Prince of Persia. Upon return to your kingdom, you find your homeland ravaged by war and yourself a fugitive in your own land. Your battles have transformed your kingdom and given rise to a deadly Dark Prince, whose spirit gradually possesses you. Play two sides of a divided soul - the Prince and his darker self. Only by unleashing their distinct powers and skills can you cast off your fugitive existence and restore peace to your land, and to your soul...

The Two Thrones is the latest instalment in the Prince of Persia series of games. I've said it before, in my review of Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, but this series of games can be frustratingly annoying if you don't like being spoon-fed. There's no feeling of actually being able to explore your environment. And once you are faced with a dead end you know that the answer has to be right in front of you (actually it's usually above you).

Sure it looks great, and plays fantastically, but there are a few too many problems with this game.

Firstly there is way to much trial and error for my liking. And when you slip up and get killed, more often than not, you are transported back quite a way. This means that you have to repeat boring jumps and attacks before you can continue.

I also found a few bugs. On one occasion I leapt onto a pillar to be greeted with a female computer voice droning on about the games developers; I managed to get trapped on the top of a pole; on one of the levels, after swinging between two pillars, the Prince kept falling to his death for no reason - other times he wouldn't; it took me ages to work out how to get the slow motion function to work (we aren't given instruction for review copies). The onscreen instructions stated that you had to pull the left trigger button... but that was wrong too. To get it to work you have to tap the left trigger button (pulling it simply reverses the sands of time).

There's also a problem with the control options. You can't switch the up and down controls (something that annoyed me throughout the whole game). If you're used to setting up your controls in this manner then you may find it a hindrance.

No doubt all of the gaming mags will love this (as they did with the previous two games) but in reality it's just a pretty, but rather unsatisfying Tomb Raider clone that doesn't really allow you to explore your environment too much.

This game differs from the previous instalments in that the addition of the Dark Prince means that you have a whole new set of skills to master. Also the camera angle problems of the past games have been ironed out - no longer do you suddenly find that the camera angle changes in the middle of a tricky manoeuvre (well, not as frequently as it did previously). Now, at critical points in the game, an icon flashes up to indicate that another camera angle is available to you. When you push the white button, this function usually show you where you have to go in order to further the action.

There are nice touches (which sadly aren't very well realised). The horse and carriage section is a nightmare to control - you'll be smashed to smithereens in seconds. The Dark Prince drops dead just because you haven't managed to get far enough, quick enough. And the huge boss, that you have to defeat in the amphitheatre, is good fun - if a little too simple.

The limited number of different enemy to attack, along with the all too familiar landscapes (which on occasion make you think you've been here before) are also sticking points.

However, in spite of these moans, I found myself strangely addicted to The Two Thrones. This is certainly an improvement on the previous two games. Hopefully the next one will actually be really good.

Ray Thompson

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