Prince of Persia 3D
When gamers first beheld the original Prince of Persia, they were astounded to see the most fluid, lifelike animations ever to grace a PC game. The story wasn’t exactly original – it was basically Arabian Nights – and the 2D running, jumping, and climbing had been seen in plenty of games before this one. But the animation was so darn realistic and the graphics so much better than anything done before that it just didn’t matter. Prince of Persia was arguably the first hint at the sort of animation magic the right person – in this case, the now-legendary Jordan Mechner – could squeeze out of the computers of that era, and proved that the PC was truly a legitimate platform for first-rate arcade gaming.
A sequel in 1993 added SVGA graphics and backgrounds that created a pseudo-3D depth of field, but the action was still essentially 2D. Now the Prince steps boldly into the world of 3D graphics with Prince of Persia 3D – and while the action, story, and puzzles are solidly enjoyable, the latest version doesn’t quite have the full dramatic luster of the original. Part of the reason is that the past couple of years have seen a slew of good games that revolve around the same sort of acrobatics featured here; another is the technical glitches.
The story this time still has plenty of that Arabian Nights flair: the Sultan has been tricked into promising his daughter’s hand in marriage to the son of his Vizier, who for some reason is now a Kilrathi-like tiger-man. Since the princess is already married to our hero, the Vizier frames him for murder and tosses him into a dungeon; just like the first two games, you’ve got to find a way out of your cell, save the Princess from a couple of close calls, and kill the cat guy to save the day.
Prince of Persia might be his title, but our hero looks more like a samurai these days as he wields his deadly blade. He also gets to use a pike, double blades, and a bow, the last being crucial for solving certain puzzles. There’s no spurting blood, and combat is pretty rudimentary, but it’s surprisingly fun;.
Unlike the first two installments, Prince3D takes you away from the Sultan’s city to new vistas, using a Tomb Raider-style perspective. Besides dealing with all the usual traps (pressure plates, floor spikes, crumbling walkways, guillotines, and so on), you’ve also got to master new techniques such as swimming and climbing ropes. Still, the gameplay emphasis remains squarely on the big three: running, jumping, and climbing. And while there’s fun to be had just doing that, Prince3D can be maddeningly frustrating at times.
A combat glitch causes the Prince to tuck his weapon away whenever he changes planes – by stepping onto stairs, walking up or down ramps, or jumping from a small ledge – and you’ll frequently get sliced and diced as you struggle to re-arm him. Add in a few random crashes, and it’s easy to see how your enthusiasm can start to wane. These aren’t fatal flaws, but they do keep a good game from being a great game. Even so, action fans should find some value here.
System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95
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