Archive for January, 2009

“The Year of …………” pt 4 – Survival Horror

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Survival Horror is dead. There, I said it. I know what you’re thinking – I’m overreacting, exaggerating for the purpose of making a point. But the sad reality is that I know that the genre is, at best, in a coma. Not only is it stagnated, as it has lost its sense of identity and it’s purpose of existence.

Admittedly, translating horror into the interactive medium has always been tricky, because unlike most genres horror relies on a sense of discomfort and unpleasantness that can seem antithetical with videogames’ ludic logic, its defining fun factor. In the last years, the fun factor dictatorship has become increasingly prevalent, evolving game design into a form that favors a thoroughly easy, straightforward experience where both challenge and frustration are practically banned, and where each and every moment must be one of pure endorphin stimuli. However, for a good survival horror to instill tension, stress, and fear, it needs to be unpleasant, boring, even silent at times, and game developers have come to avoid these moments like a devil does a cross. By doing so, they have destroyed the very essence of what makes a good horror piece.

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Perhaps even more important for the current predicament the genre finds itself in, is its migration from east to west, which eventually stains its defining matrix. Japanese developers always understood the genre better, not only because they defined it in the first place (see Shinji Mikami’s “Sweet Home“, released back in 1989) but also because Japanese horror films always translated better into the videogame medium than their American counterparts. Because Japanese horror focuses on psychological elements, it feeds perfectly on the interactive dimension, in order to blur the relationship between protagonists and player. On the contrary, American horror lends it self so much to action thrills and fleeting notions of suspense that it eventually makes its interactive translation closer to that of shooter videogames. And with “Resident Evil” now leading as an example for survival horror gone shooter (a trend blatantly notorious in the “Resident Evil 5” demo), it’s hard to have any faith in things improving in the future [more on this issue in my articles regarding horror – here, here and here].

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The only saving grace of the year, of course, comes from the only major Japanese take on the genre: “Siren Blood Curse“, by Keiichiro Toyama (creator of “Silent Hill”). The reason is simple: it’s the only scary game I’ve played this year. It’s not brilliant, mind you, it’s actually a bad game on many levels, but unlike any other release this year, it’s one that shows its creators truly understand the meaning of  the words “survival horror”. First and foremost, in its formal qualities, which it successfully borrows from Nippon horror – its gritty visuals, surreal ambiance and cacophonous soundtrack – all delightfully translated into interactive form. Sadly, the gameplay still seems dated, lacking the elegance and simplicity of more traditional survival horror titles, and most of all, poorly implemented to the point of breaking the eerie mood the aesthetic delivers. Yet in such a dreadful year, it is by far the only unique piece of horror I would even think about praising. Its delightfully scary, freakish and obscure – like all survival horror games should be.

alone_in_the_dark_03As to what went wrong this year… well, everything. The new “Alone in The Dark“, a game that despite a few cool gimmicks managed to throw all its potential to hell thanks to an early release, filled with bugs, game design flaws and stupid control schemes… oh, and also thanks to the overall mediocrity of its artistic qualities, with special mentions to its ludicrous plot, its “24-like” episode structure, and its dramatic, epic doomsday-ishI want to be Roland Emerich” directing style [irony intended]. There’s also “Silent Hill Homecoming“, the biggest insult one could ever make to one of the best videogame series ever designed, which I will not further criticize, lest I become too acid and distasteful for my readers, and, to sum it all up, the yawn-inducer “Dead Space“, which despite my criticisms, can still be seen as a decent action game, just… not a decent survival horror game.

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As to the future, it looks grim. “Resident Evil 5” has more “Call of Duty” in it than it has “Resident Evil” (just look at the screens… they’re bathed in daylight, it’s heresy!) and all other series have withered away. Perhaps the Wii can bring some hope, with titles such as “Sadness” or the upcoming “Fatal Frame / Project Zero“, but it is doubtful they will reach their audience in such a casual marketed console. No matter how sad it might be, the genre is dead… might as well come to terms with it.

[Sidenote: haven’t played “Penumbra”]

A Side-note on the New FFXIII Trailer

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A small provocation for the RPG lovers who still have high expectations towards “FFXIII”. This is a slightly altered translation of a rant e-mail I’ve just sent to a dear friend of mine who loves the series. Just watch the trailer (found here) and then read. It’s not to be taken dead seriously, as I am being sarcastic, but I think my point is pretty clear.

“Notice the frenetic rhythm, adorned by the tempo of hollywodesque action cinematography – shooting guns and thunderous explosions blazing – calling forth a memory much closer to that of a Bruckheimer or Michael Bay production than the melancholic tone we’ve come to associate with the series (remember, for example, the destruction of the world in “FFVI”, Aeris’ death in “VII” and the love story in “VIII”). The over-blown mise-en-scéne,  excessively replicating fantasy clichés – all things made pretty and shiny, brimming with naiveté (including the “Star Wars-like” big evil empire), and the absurd focus on expansive, idyllic landscapes – not to mention the saccharine, happy-feely polish, of questionable taste, even for a longtime fan of the genre (nothing we wouldn’t expect from “FFX’s” co-author and “FFX-2’s” creator). Even character design follows the more basic Manga archetypes – the stylized haired heroine, the cool looking Afro with Colgate smile, the gorgeous “Brad I’m so blond Pitt” action hero, and the ever present sidekick, an anthropomorphized teddy bear made hyper-cute (special focus on his Bambi-like eyes) so that little girls can sigh profusely.

This is what passes for a “Final Fantasy” these days…”

“The Year of …………” pt 3 – Adventure/Platforming

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It was an interesting year for action adventure games because, despite the stillness that can be felt in most genres, there were many attempts at revitalizing their core set of mechanics. But, as we’ve come to expect from the industry, most of these attempts went awry, subjugated to the commercial logic that plagues such a potentially powerful medium. Well, at least, there have been new avenues opened up by these failed attempts, which is more than I can say for the other categories.

Unto the best… and worst of 08.

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Tomb Raider Underworld” – The first “Tomb Raider” was one of the few games in its genre that fully honored its greatest forefather, “Prince of Persia”; it’s then somehow fitting that even today, the new “Tomb Raider” shows some form of relationship with Mechner’s game (much more so than the silly new “Prince”)… and that’s as good as a compliment as one can make to a “Tomb Raider” game. “Underworld“, despite its many shortcomings, is a game that invites the player to develop a greater relationship with his surrounding environment, to actually explore the scenario, using his senses as much as his controller. It’s also an extraordinary piece of level design that blends beautiful architecture with enticing puzzles and action pieces, delivering a moody, yet entertaining experience. Innovative it may not be, but it is still a perfect depiction of what makes a good action adventure game work.

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“Braid” – I admit being reticent about placing “Braid” in this category, for it defies both any category or genre boundaries most games are content on subscribing. But it has platforming, it has some mild adventure elements and it borrows it’s concept from “Sands of Time”, so here it is. “Braid” is probably one of the few games in this exercise that achieves plenitude in each of its expressive dimensions, and that alone makes it deserve an honorable mention. The fact that it delivers such a complete experience, while simultaneously providing a revolutionary gameplay, completely designed by a single person, just serves to show that innovation can work, and doesn’t need a million-dollar budget, just a spike of creativity and a great deal of good intention from publishers.

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Biggest Letdowns

“Mirror’s Edge” – Ah… “Mirror’s Edge”, it had everything: a cool aesthetic, a dystopian narrative, an exciting new take on its genre; nothing could go wrong… except it did. Inspired by “Breakdown’s” coherent use of the first person perspective, which fully incorporated body movement and inertia (unheard of when it was first released) [thanks to Dieubussy for that reference 😉 ], “Mirror’s Edge” was an attempt at taking that first person experience to a whole new level, by making the player experience “the flow”: a mix of vertigo and adrenaline, induced by the ‘in your face’ view of a high speed flurry of parkour movements. The cruel fate of the game is that it actually succeeds in generating that singular experience, even if only to waste it with one of the worst level designs I’ve seen in the past year. It’s as if  designers had deliberately built each level to break the smooth, flow-y pacing: either by forcing the player to wander aimlessly through scenarios in search of an obscure objective, or by making him trudge through generic shooter-like sequences that in nothing add to the core notion of the game. Add to that a silly plot, an even worse narrative vehicle, and you have a game that neither translates an interesting thought nor provokes the emotional, gut-like reaction it aimed at.

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“Prince of Persia” – It’s the other ugly duckling of the year, curiously enough, for all the opposite reasons of “Mirror’s Edge”. Whereas “Mirror’s Edge” failed in producing a consistent “flow”, but provided the proper aesthetic context for its experience, “Prince of Persia” did the exact opposite: it designed a perfect flow, but lacked the necessary emotional effect that could make its gameplay interesting. In a sense, one is too much of a game to let its sensory experience come to fruition, the other is not enough of a game to be entertaining, nor enough of an emotional voyage to be more than just a game. Both fail, and yet, one can almost sense what wonderful games they could’ve been if they could merge the best each has to provide. Let’s just hope these developers learn from these mistakes.

“The Year of …………” pt2 – Japanese RPG

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Unlike their western counterpart, Japanese RPG’s seem to be completely adrift in the vast sea of videogame genres… and with no clear bearing on their future. For the past ten years, there’s been a complete stagnation of the genre’s aesthetic, increasingly reduced to shallow cliches; whether it’s the Japanimation visual style or the traditional turn-based battle systems, it’s rare to see J-RPG’s forfeiting these conventions in favor of new approaches. And like the classic adventure genre in the mid-90’s, the Japanese current of RPG’s has become so entrenched its own design formalities that its audience has grown downright claustrophobic, fearing even the mildest form of innovation. Games like “Infinite Undiscovery” or “Last Remnant” show how even Square Enix, the giant RPG conglomerate, is desperate to find some sort of working formula for its new games, in the process going as far as copying elements from both Western-RPG’s and MMORPG’s.

However, despite all that, JRPG’s remain strong in Japan, with many titles being released every year: from “Valkyria Chronicles” to “Yakuza 2”, there are titles for all tastes. Maybe because of this fact, of all the categories I established in this exercise, this is one of the least disappointing. The following are two of the best examples of how the genre still survives to this day.

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Lost Odyssey” – Sakaguchi’s unyielding classic approach to roleplaying is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most heartfelt love letters to a videogame genre in recent memory. The idea that the designer that practically defined the genre 20 years before, can return to it, and subtly reinvent it, with an unflinching faith in his personal ideas and style, is one of the few thoughts that makes me have some faith in the videogame industry. “Lost Odyssey“, like the best “Final Fantasy’s”, is touching on an emotional level as few games can be, and that is something no other 2008 game can reclaim. That it boasts an elegant simplicity to its dramatic power only serves to show that even a game design model that’s two decades old can be used to tell the most heart warming stories… something which eludes even the most popular of game genres.

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Persona 3” – Even though it is one of the less charismatic and unique entries in the “Shin Megami Tensei” series, “Persona 3” still manages to be a thoroughly fresh and original J-RPG – a rare compliment in such a monolithic genre. Its unique merging of Japanese adventure games with traditional J-RPG combat ends up delivering a near perfect mix of the bizarre, virtuous aesthetic that the series has became known for, with a pop-art feast of incredibly enjoyable gameplay. That delicate mix is what eventually saves the game from the limitations of the genre where it’s foundations lie, in the process defining a new, stylized RPG model that manages to resonate with both eastern and western audiences.

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Biggest Letdown  – “Odin Sphere” – “Odin Sphere”, the spiritual successor to “Princess Crown”, is a game of profound beauty and charm… yet, it’s one that never translates it to its interactive dimension. A strange hybrid of side-scrolling brawlers and role playing, the game ends up neither presenting interesting avenues for an action game, nor showing a refined version of the RPG mechanics it implements. As a matter of fact, it gets the worst of both worlds: a simplistic action-game that neither shows the entertainment immediacy associated with good arcade games, nor the long term enjoyment guaranteed by tactical nuances and character development associated with RPG’s. And the absurd, unnatural length of the game, which clashes deeply with its action’s arcade roots, makes it even more unbearable and repetitive than most RPG’s – it turns an exquisite work of  art feel like a boring grind. The potential of the game, both in its aesthetic and narrative work, is just squandered, only to be appreciated by those who are willing to traverse the same scenarios for dozens of hours, in order to enjoy some of the finest 2D sprites and scenery ever to grace a PS2 game…

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Despite the numerous quality RPG’s to have been released in the past year, I do not believe any of them present a solution to the conundrum faced by RPG designers. Sakaguchi’s old-school approach failed to connect with audiences, probably because of its platform, the lack of a franchise name to back it up, and above all, because what sets it apart from every other RPG isn’t immediately visible. The subtle nuances that made “1000 Years of Dreams” a memorable storytelling vehicle were clearly not understood, being mostly dismissed by both players and critics. It saddens me to say that if Sakaguchi (once a fan-favorite designer) maintains his re-rendering of traditional RPG semantics, he will be forced to develop his games on a smaller scale, with modest production levels – a path which Mistwalker’s DS outings, “ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat”, “Away Shuffle Dungeon” and “Blue Dragon Plus” hint at.

On the other hand, “Persona 3” does show the reforming verve that the genre desperately needs. However, its spike of creativity already seems to have been misplaced in the upcoming “Persona 4”, which replicates the exact same design model. The fact that they released the fourth title one year after the first (despite the big hiatus between previous entries), begs the question: how many yearly “Persona’s” can Atlus come up with before the formula wears out? It seems the companies still don’t understand that what’s killing the genre, and by extent, their business, is the constant rehashing of the same game…. which doesn’t leave a pretty picture for 2009.

“The Year of …………” pt1 – Western RPG

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2008 was not very rich in western roleplaying games, in fact, only two are deserving of mentioning: “Fable II”, Peter Molyneux’s much awaited sequel to one of the most controversial RPG’s of recent history, and “Fallout 3”, Bethesda’s reinvention of one of videogames’ most loved and critically acclaimed series. Both show a clear trend in recent roleplaying games – an attempt at merging the Game World Narrative paradigm (which is sustained by a heavy number of side-quests, as in MMORPGs) with choice oriented branching narratives (seen, for example, in “Knights of the Old Republic”). I admit not being a big fan of huge MMORPG-like RPG’s, because they lack dramatic punch in their spread out,  fragmented story-lines, and more often than not, are the subject of much repetition, both in gameplay and storytelling mechanisms. However, the Game World Narrative, with its free, go anywhere, do anything approach, can translate notions that are harder to convey using different narrative models – namely, the sense of presence in a virtual world, i.e. the construction of that idea of being in an alternate reality, a constant, coherent environment that sucks you in, and envelops you in a higher form of narrative. As I’ve defended before, adding ‘choice’ to that paradigm is the only form of it coming to full fruition. Game Worlds should be responsive and reply to your actions, just as the real world does, not only because this makes the world feel more credible, but also because it adds to the notion of choice that is so often associated with this “sandbox” approach. Both “Fable 2” and “Fallout 3” try to merge those narrative models, and both bare achievements in their own way.

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Fable II” – Molyneux’s first “Fable” was intent on delivering a game of choice and consequence. However, at the same time it was designed, “Knights of the Republic” advanced that notion far beyond the simplistic design of the first “Fable”. However, there was an interesting thought hidden in “Fable” – the intertwining of a social mini-game, akin to “The Sims”, with standard action RPG trappings. “Fable II” takes that notion and spirals it tenfold, by designing a whole social-economic model that reacts to your choices during the game. Granted, it’s not the most elaborate of social-economic models – people basically respond by liking/fearing the player, and the economy responds with growth/recession accordingly – but basic as that might sound, it does provide a more realistic background to the game’s quests.

The other interesting notion in “Fable 2” is the idea that your moral choices, expressed in quests or through your social-economic behavior do have irreversible consequences in terms of gameplay, thus serving as a more meaningful metaphor for real-life consequences. Specifically, instances in which you’re asked to make sacrifices in order to preserve a set of moral values, such as sacrificing your loved ones or relinquishing hard-earned experience. Though far from the unrelenting consequences of “The Witcher”, it’s still a new approach to the same narrative model that I appreciated.

Another interesting aspect is that, though “Fable II” maintains the crudeness of the first “Fable’s” humor, it has a strong point of view, and a consistency to it that most games lack. “Fable”, as the name so implies, presents itself as a parody to Role Playing Games and fantasy storytelling in general. The game admits this set-up and plays with it through and through: its depiction of characters, absurdly simplistic and without any nuances; the way in which you interact with villagers, by simple expressions, is admittedly a critique to the hollow nature of social interactions; its plot, so in tune with “The Hero’s Journey”, that you’re literally referred to “The Hero”; the lore of the game, brimming with self-parody about the game world; and the charming aesthetic, which purposefully exaggerates the audio-visual ‘motifs’ typically associated with fantasy stories (excessive bloom effects for instance). Even if you do not appreciate the tone of the humor, as I do not, you have to concede to the consistency of Molyneux’s point of view.

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“Fallout 3” – Much more so than Molyneux’s work, “Fallout 3” shows that Bethesda understands what it means to immerse a player in a vast game-world: the use of the first person camera, which blurs the barrier between game and player; the greater character flexibility that allows for infinite ways of playing the game, or experiencing the plot (being good or bad); a textually richer storyline (even if a less emotional one) that can be both satirical and stimulating on an intellectual level; and finally, the sheer scale of the game-world, which you can explore freely (as opposed to “Fable II” in which you’re limited to certain closed off areas), making it feel more believable and, of course, engrossing.

The lack of nuisances such as babysitting families or having to work for money like in “Fable II” (and to some extent in “GTA IV”) also help “Fallout 3” stand as more entertaining game. Though its aesthetic is more dry and unappealing than that of “Fable II”, it’s also very consistent – a vicious satire to USA and its vices, brimming with gore and excess… oh, and it has art-deco, a plus in any game’s aesthetic. Though it’s definitely a more classic experience, that upholds many of the tropes associated with old-school RPG’s, “Fallout 3” implements them with an uncompromising love, which makes it a great RPG experience for lovers of the genre.

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That being said, both these games can also be seen as disappointing references inside the scope of their genre. Firstly, because neither shows a substantial leap in terms of actual game; both RPG’s are very limited in their improvements over the design models in which they’re based. Secondly, because both of them devise their game worlds using poorly expressive characters, bad dramatic writing, and a lack of aesthetic creativity through and through (remember, they’re both sequels). The fact that they’re the only games in the genre to have come out this year makes me fear that the W-RPG isn’t evolving in any (significant) way, and I do not see any promising game to be released next year (except a hypothetical “The Witcher 2”). Even so, the lack of quantity (and quality) isn’t exasperating, just bittersweet in a year that had so many videogames of sub-par quality.

[Sidenote: I haven’t played “Neverwinter Nights 2 – Storm of Zehir”]

“The Year of …………” Prelude

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So, before analyzing the good and bad of 2008, a heads up on my (self-imposed) rules. I will only consider games for the PS3, PS2, Xbox360 (the only consoles I currently own) that have been released in the past year (01-01-2008 to 31-12-2008), in European territory only. The reason for this specific limitation is simple: I live in Europe and only have access to games released here, so games like “Persona 4” or “Tales of Vesperia” won’t be considered. Additionally, no re-releases (or pseudo-remakes) will be noted, only the first release of a game will count (which leaves games like “Rez-HD”, “Bioshock PS3” and “Mass Effect PC” out of this exercise).

The year analysis will consist of 3 sections:

  • In the first I will analyze the best and worst in 5 videogame categories (not to mistake with genres): Western RPG, Japanese RPG, Adventure/Platforming (action adventure games with platforming sections and emphasis on environmental puzzles), Survival Horror (action adventure games with horror themed backgrounds), and Action (action oriented games, mostly shooters, both first and third person). I chose these categories based on the type of reviews I’ve come to specialize on: mainstream games focused on single player experiences, with character driven narratives. I know this leaves a lot of games out, but it wouldn’t make sense to analyze types of videogames with which I’m not particularly familiar.
  • The second section will serve as an analysis on the evolution of the different expressive vehicles present in videogames. I’ll refer the best in 3 areas: Interaction (gameplay and level design), Aesthetic (art design and soundtrack) and Narrative (story, plot devices).
  • Finally, I’ll refer the absolute best of the year, and finish with some conclusions on this particular exercise.

Hope you’ll enjoy this as much I will. Remember, this is a subjective analysis! Any objections to my choices or method of analysis, please comment, I love to hear from you, whether it’s good things or bad. So hammer away 😉

So let’s find out who stands out this year for the best, and the worst reasons.

Prince of Persia (2008) – “Thief of Persia”

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The story of “Prince of Persia” would now seem to be as old as the medium itself. Born out of the brilliant mind of Jordan Mechner, the original masterpiece ended up serving as the proud pillar for a whole genre, probably even for an entire current of videogames. Since then, the “Prince of Persia” name has become associated with the best and worst the interactive craft can offer. When it was announced that an entirely new Prince would appear, instead of an attempt at fixing the broken “Sands of Time” formula, there was hope it could reinvent the genre as its notorious forebears did. Sadly, like its main character, the new “Prince of Persia” is not of royal descent, but a mere pauper.

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In an attempt at recapturing the elegance of Mechner’s original masterpiece, while simultaneously framing it in the light of modern design philosophies, the new Prince’s gameplay presents itself as an exercise of eloquent simplicity. Flying above the abyss, running through walls, sword fighting with enemies – what was once a task of deft skill and trying patience (which matched the on-screen action) is now a matter of simple chaining of rhythmic actions. For each action to ensue, a button must be pressed as the associated visual cue demands it: see a cliff, jump button; see a flashing light, double jump button; a monster attacks with magic, counterattack with magic attack button, and so on. Level progress becomes a succession of automated movements, that without the need for much reflection or observation, lead the Prince from one point to the next. Because of that, complex, three dimensional scenarios are rendered into spatially twisted, yet linearly explorable corridors, and fights are molded into simple mini-games of action-reaction. The end experience is that of a slow stream of steps to which you must mindlessly oblige, in QTE style, as the prince shows off his flurry of incredibly animated acrobatic movements and attacks. And because the game does not let you die in any way (you simply restart from a very near checkpoint), your actions are seldom interrupted from that particular flow. In the rare instances that “Prince of Persia” presents challenge, it does it in the most disastrous of ways (like “Assassin’s Creed”), by introducing a pseudo-non linear game structure that forces you to traverse levels several times, and an obligatory fetch quest that mandates you to squander levels in search of hundreds of flashy orbs (hardly original).

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The shun of challenge oriented gameplay, and the simplification of the gameplay dimension, don’t stand as ill-choices by themselves. However, having gameplay reduced to that of a series of mind numbing actions should invite to a greater, more dense aesthetic experience, that could fill in the void left by the extreme simplicity of the interactive counterpart; many games have shown ways on how this type of experience can be pulled off with extraordinary results (“flOw”, for instance). But for that to be achieved, the game must have a strong artistic identity, one that translates some sort of emotional experience that transcends gameplay – something which the new Prince unfortunately lacks. Dazzled by the daunting beauty of aesthetic masterpieces such as “ICO”, “Shadow of the Colossus” or “Ôkami“, the new “Prince of Persia” creates a world that borrows many of these games’ elements: the use of a white-laden princess as companion; the dreamy landscape; the healing of the land, bringing color and nature to darkness and corruption, etc. I have already discussed how these exercises of malformed inspiration can bring about poor results (the recent “Dead Space“, for example), and the Prince represents another bad example of this practice. Firstly, because it ends up creating a world, that despite gorgeous, bares no concrete relationship either with the series’ background (Persia), or with its many sources of inspiration – it’s just a mishmash of aesthetic details molded into soulless pretty images. Secondly, because the game’s authors did not translate any of the artistic potential of their sources into the game itself – most of the gameplay sections develop in dull-colored corridors and walls that do not show off the intrinsic graphical detail of the art design. There are some stunning vistas (which the screen-shots obviously focus on), but these aren’t contemplated by the player’s eye during a significant majority of the game.

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The narrative, instead of adding some compensatory value to the game, further mars the experience. Not only are its characters simplistic and cartoon-y, as their dialogues are filled with cheesy jokes that seem straight out of some romantic comedy featuring Matthew McConaughey, as opposed to a mystic tale about Persia (the game is called “Prince of Persia”, is it not?). When the game does opt for drama it does so by completely ripping-off “Shadow of the Colossus”, and not in a good way. And because game progress is pseudo non-linear, there’s an absurd amount of filler that doesn’t go anywhere with the plot until the very end of the game. In fact, for all intents and purposes, there are only two plot points: beginning and end (someone clearly missed the writing class when they got to the “middle” part).

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The narrative falling flat and the aesthetic being mostly derivative (even if filled with eye-candy), only invites more criticism to the subtle nature of the gameplay dimension. Because it does not serve as a background for some sort of emotional journey, the gameplay reduces the experience to an agonizing series of numbing actions, throughout numerous and repetitive levels, occasionally interrupted by a childish cutscene or a lush scenery for you to gaze upon. Though there is some commending to be done to the guys at Ubisoft, for at least trying to devise a new game based on a decade old franchise, the fact is that in the end, they produced a completely hollow and forgettable videogame. More so, one that bares the same name as one of the most important games ever designed… which should get people thinking that maybe a game named “Prince of Persia” should at least try to live up to the royal lineage of Mechner’s absolute masterpiece. But it doesn’t, and instead of a Prince we got a thief disguised in noble garments.

score: 2/5