Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review: Inversion

Inversion is a game with great ideas and a solid foundation, but it's nothing ultimately special at the end of the day. It reminds me of this other game Saber Interactive developed called Timeshift because that also had great ideas and a solid foundation, although Timeshift did fumble with its ideas more often than not. Inversion's ideas are more gimmicky in practice than they are actually practical or even all that well used. So ultimately, it's a decent third person shooter that tries to separate itself from the competition, but winds up just going through the motions. Damn, I love the ideas this game has, too!

In the future, an alien race that looks almost human known as the Lutadore has taken over Earth and kidnapped a bunch of children. Amongst them is the daughter of our wise cracking protagonist, Davis Russell. Meanwhile, the Earth's gravity has been all out of whack, leaving sections without gravity and others with vector changes. As cool as it sounds, expecting a half decent plot is a big, big mistake. Any and all attempts at emotionally connecting with the characters is bitchslapped with the other guy going "be a manly man and stop your crying you little bitch", meaning there's no real time to connect with them. Any attempt at explaining the plot is cut short by the need to shoot more aliens. I've found more clarity inside a deep fat fryer. It's not even good as a B-grade action story because the one liners are just bad (as in they make me want to vomit due to how half assed they really are) and there's no amount of masculinity to be found. It's like a bunch of out of touch middle aged men wrote this shit.

Let's just get the big thing out of the way - Inversion allows you to manipulate gravity using the GravaLink. You can use it to manipulate the gravity of objects and enemies, either pulling them towards you, swatting them away or making them float in midair. It's a lot like the Gravity Gun from Half Life 2, except it's a whole hell of a lot more gimmicky. There aren't that many segments where you'll be required to use it to move shit around, so really, it's just another means of taking down enemies outside of simply pumping lead into them. While pushing enemies up into the air and screwing with gravity to make them float in the air can make you feel very powerful when you gun them down, there's a very high chance of getting shot by surrounding enemies.

Another big thing is that there are segments with no gravity, which means you'll be given free reign to float around and shoot stuff. Course, given that we're playing a cover based shooter, the idea is to propel yourself towards floating cover so that you'll be safe when you're against midair enemies. The major issue I have with these segments is that you're encouraged to play conservatively, as flying around from cover to cover actually paints you as a big fat target for enemies to shoot down. Nope, you'll be shooting enemies from where you are and usually just where you are as enemies are coming towards you. The only difference is getting to cover in the first place – highlighting what cover you want to head behind is a lot more tedious than it should be as it'll basically randomly choose which one within that bit of space you're facing you'll go towards, and while you're fiddling with it all, you'll get violated in every oriface by enemy gunfire. Same sort of deal with when the gravity changes – as in, you'll be flipped to the side of buildings. This could've been cool if it had any actual impact on the gameplay. What I mean is that you're just shooting enemies that are on a 90 degree angle to you. Yawn. This is definitely the weakest element of the game, which is a crying shame because if this was improved on to be fun and not clunky or merely superficial, Inversion could very well be on everybody's game of the year lists.

At its heart, it's your standard cover based shooter where you'll need to rush to cover and take down aliens. You'll get to use pistols, machine guns, shotguns, flamethrowers and even the occasional rocket launcher so it at least has its arsenal of weapons covered. Well, somewhat. I don't remember the last time a shotgun had the range of an assault rifle, and an assault rifle being like an automatic sniper rifle. But that's at moot point when the structure is so mechanical. Go to cover. Duck behind cover. Peep out and shoot when enemies stop shooting. Repeat step 3 until all enemies are taken down. Head to next section. Repeat until you get to some some arbitrary zero gravity section or until the game ends. Realize you wasted $60-89 on a game that just goes through the motions unless you were smart like me and got a second hand copy for $27.

Seriously, fun is not something you'll find all that often in this game. There are some decently enjoyable sections where messing with gravity is less of an inconvenience and more of a way to truly dominate, but that's about it. There is co-op mode available, but that's a moot point because people make watching otherwise boring movies at least somewhat entertaining. There is barely anything that's interesting about this game and even though cover is fully destructible, it still amounts to just going through the motions. Multiplayer modes outside of co-op exist, but it's nothing special. It mainly has deathmatch, king of the hill and a survival mode of sorts every fucking shooter these days has to have. Oh, and it's a ghost town, so good luck getting into a match... unless I somehow convince hundreds of people to buy this game even though I'm trying to make it look as mediocre as it actually is. Seriously, it's like Saber Interactive had a laundry list to go through - make sure to tick all the boxes and maybe add a little something so that it doesn't come across as that, but half ass the shit out of it so that it doesn't even matter.

Even the presentation is mediocre! The game looks like a launch title for the 360, not something that even comes close to pushing the hardware. The colors are the dullest shades of brown, gray and dark navy I've seen in years – hey, at least Gears Of War makes vibrant use of otherwise dull colors; this is just borderline fucking boring to look at! The textures are there, but they're not all that detailed. Hell, some objects barely have textures in the first place!The character models animate alright and actually don't like half bad, but there's nothing to really be wowed by.

Same deal with the sound design – nothing that makes you go wow. The voice acting will make you go yawn because of how wooden it is. It really drives what I said about the story even further home because it's like nobody gave a shit. As for the soundtrack, it's just do nothing OH SO DRAMATIC background noise that simply exists because... well, what game doesn't have “sweeping epic” orchestrated songs nowadays? Nothing that'll brighten your day; nothing that'll make you want to go deaf – it's the very definition of mediocre.

To be fair, Inversion isn't a bad game – it passes off as a decent game by the hair of its chinny chin chin. The issue is that it squanders its potential by not implementing all of these gravity-based ideas all too well. Zero gravity is lame, inverted gravity is only aesthetic instead of being a gamechanging element and the actual gunplay is fucking mediocre at best. There's nothing to really write home about here, and... well, I'm going to play something else so I can get this glazed look off of my face.

5/10 (Average)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Review: Kingdom Hearts 2

While the first Kingdom Hearts was one of my favorite games growing up, Kingdom Hearts 2 is in a bit of an odd place for me and has always been. It was one of those games that kept me glued to the TV both when I bought it and for this playthrough, but it wasn't because I loved it or anything. It felt like it was because I was looking for things to love about it. There are things that I liked here and there, but overall, it's a playable game in an excellent game's clothing. If you don't know what that means, basically, it means a company shot a lot higher than its actual capabilities allow it to. To sum that much up, Kingdom Hearts 2 has a fun and fast combat engine, but does very little with it to actually make it any good, and let's not mention the lack of balance... or worse yet, the story.

But at the same time, the only way to know what you're in for is to first get an idea of what's going on. After the events of Chain Of Memories, Sora, Donald and Goofy are sent on a quest to take down the evil Organization XIII and their minions, the Nobodies. Said Organization has big plans in store that will surely destroy the world... or something. Oh, and the Heartless are still running about (if less powerful, which explains why fighting them is a piece of piss) because there's darkness in peoples' hearts or some shit. I don't know and Square's not willing to say much either, like it's some sort of secret fucking service! Really, two things fuck this story over in the long run:

1) Theoretically, there should be a LOT more at stake. Even though there are fewer Heartless, there's the looming threat of the Nobodies and especially Organization XIII. But who gives a shit, let's just waste time helping Beast get Belle to fall in love with him! Oh golly this is such gripping storytelling! What's that, you want to know what Organization XIII hope to really achieve from their plan? Well stiff shit mate – we have to help Jack Sparrow take back the Black Pearl from Captain Barbossa and Pete! What happened to Riku after the events of Chain Of Memories? We'll be with you... after helping Simba take his place on Pride Rock from Scar! Look, I like fanservice and found that it was the strong point of the first game, but it leads me to...

2) Because of this game's insistence on balancing fanservice with an original story... you'll be required to go through each world twice. The first time is for the express purpose of fanservice with maybe a bit of the actual plot in the background. The second time... now here's where it gets tricky. You'll either get clues as to where Riku is, what King Mickey is doing and all this other stuff... or just some story that feels like a direct to video sequel! Mind you, some of these destroy the actual direct to video sequels (I like the idea of Simba needing to take responsibility and move on from his past [the original movie's moral, by the way] a lot more than the entirity of The Lion King 2). Because of all of this, the game drags on for like an eternity, but yet they still feel like they have to squeeze in a lot of content... so much so, that it feels like you got nothing out of it. So yeah, the story is a huge fucking mess. Oh, and plot holes are ever so abundant – particularly with bits and pieces towards the end, some of which contradict with the logic from the first game! All these spin off games on the various handhelds aren't here to buy Square time to never make Kingdom Hearts 3; they're here to fill in as many platholes as possible! Thank fuck for skippable cutscenes!

For the most part, combat is played out the same way as before – you attack with X and maybe press square for some special attacks you'll learn along the line. But there are some changes here and there. Unlike the first game, most of the enemies feel like cannon fodder. The Heartless, for instance, have been neutered. There isn't much variety except for easy and not so easy Heartless. Oh, it might appear that there's that same old variety from before with the aerial and shielded sorts, but with the possible exception of the shielded enemies... they don't really require different strategies. Just hammer on the X button and maybe press triangle when the battle menu says so – oh yeah, that's another thing... FUCKING QUICK TIME EVENTS! They're not laced out during the cutscenes; only during battle and only at certain times. It feels like a last minute addition because... well, God Of War sold pretty well and everybody liked it, Square'd be stupid NOT to add them in! What God Of War did, though, was mix it up and at least try to implement them in a way that still challenges you. Kingdom Hearts 2 only has you pressing triangle at specific times, like when an enemy or boss does a specific attack or they're in a specific state. Yawn.

It does seem like that there are improvements made throughout – like limit attacks, which consist of Sora and one of his allies unleashing a string of attacks onto their enemies at the cost of MP; and drive forms, which allow Sora to fuse with Goofy and/or Donald to deliver a string of strong combo attacks for a limited amount of time. But they help emphasize the one problem I have with the gameplay... it's too easy. Maybe three bosses aside, these improvements do a fine, fine job of making Sora more of a powerhouse, but most of the enemies still seem to be stuck in Kingdom Hearts 1. Most of them have deliberate attacks that don't do shit against Sora, who is basically the son of god when you even think of considering those options.

Hell, even if you don't use limits and drive forms, the game is still significantly easier as Sora's combos have a lot more flow to them, with more speed, movements and whatnot, while the Heartless are slow and deliberate with their attacks. But it's not a case of the game being too easy; it's unbalanced as most of the Nobodies and Organization XIII are tailor made for the updated combat engine. Their attacks have more flow, cover more distance and are either faster or more powerful. You'd at least think the new types of Heartless would keep up, but nope, Sora can destroy even the strongest ones with ease. Meanwhile, only the first type of Nobody you'll fight are easily destroyed while others require you to be quick with your attacks or *sigh* quick time events before they molest you with strong sword strikes/combos and breakdancing moves. For reference, they have their own symbols, and Nobodies tend to be white or grey (or light orange for one type) in color while Heartless are more black and purple.

The problem with all of this is that despite the dwindling number of Heartless, you'll spend a lot more of your time fighting them than you do Nobodies. There are maybe a few worlds where Nobodies will be a common occerence, but beyond that, your time is spent fighting fucking Heartless! Look, I don't mind a game where you feel like you're invincible and nobody can fuck with you, but for that, I have the Dynasty Warriors series – oh, and when Dynasty Warrior has you fighting 1000 enemies, it's actually fun, while when Kingdom Hearts 2 does it that once, it's basically MASH TRIANGLE TO WIN OH GOLLY I'M HAVING SO MUCH FUN!!! But really, Kingdom Hearts 2 can still be fun despite its easiness. The problem is that when you're dominating enemies for a prolonged period of time, it's less fun and more mind numbing to simulate the feeling of fun without actually having it. I'd call it Dynasty Warriors syndrome, but at least Dynasty Warriors is actually fun for more than an hour at a time... and we're expected to play through 30 hours of this? Seriously? Fuck, at least 4 of those hours are spent fighting Nobodies, thus being challenged, thus achieving actual satisfaction upon victory... thus actual fun!

At least it looks nice. Kingdom Hearts 2 definitely pushes the PS2's graphical limits... which would be impressive if it didn't have the technical prowess of a graphics calculator, but shit if it still didn't look great during its release. There are still instances where the lip syncing is complete ass (again, who would've thought two syllable words could suddenly have six), but there are more instances of good lip synching, and overall, there's a good amount of detail in the environments and models. The animations are smooth, which helps make combat flow fast and also moves the scenes at an acceptable rate. It's still funny that the designer has a zipper fetish.

The sound design is mostly good. There are some standout tracks like the boss and the tune for the Tron world that aren't about to leave your head anytime soon, and a couple of tracks really, really compliment the moments that they're played. The tune that plays during certain big revealing scenes invovling Organization XIII can be quite a downer, which is the point of the scenes anyway. But it's not like the rest of the soundtrack sucks because it's still good, but there's good, and then there's damn good, and it's quite clear where each track sits when you listen to them. Voice acting, as before, is hit and miss. The Disney characters are certainly on the mark, especially Pete and even those from Pirates Of The Carribean. It's like you're in each of these movies, or like Pete's really involved in these sequences. The original characters are hit and miss – our three friends Sora, Riku and Kairi sound good, as do a few members of Organization XIII (especially Xemnas who sounds like he's orgasming during his lines), but the rest of the Organization sounds monotonous and boring. Same for the Final Fantasy cast – Sephiroth aside, they sound like they just want their paychecks so they half ass the shit out of it. Bleh.

Bottom line: While technically competent and often fun to play, Kingdom Hearts 2 is a sloppy sequel and, above all else, a fucking mess. Its story is ridiculously convoluted as it introduces 1001 concepts without actually explaining anything. It does little to fill people in on what happened in Chain Of Memories (available with your purchase of a Game Boy Advance until 2008 when it gets remade for the PS2 and only for America), and it does little to explain itself. It wouldn't be a big deal if it didn't focus so much on its plot while trying to balance it out with poorly validated cameos that'd make Resident Evil 6 look like Shakespeare by comparison. There is fun to be found in this game, but be warned that outside of a few legitimately challenging bosses and the Nobodies, this gets boring quite quickly.

4.5/10 (Below Average)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review: Kuon

 From Software is the kind of company that doesn't necessarily have a style, but rather, a wide range of styles. One minute, they can make an RPG; the next, they can make a mecha game; and later on, they'll even make card games with swords. This is From Software after a horror game binge - Kuon, a game that has a great atmosphere but some serious flaws. You could probably use that as an accurate descriptor for a lot of survival horror games, but Kuon is a rather interesting case. That's mainly because it goes way overboard with what survival horror games fuck up, almost to the point of parody, and it shows people everything wrong with those games and then some. This is especially disheartening to somebody who lives in the PAL region – we just came from Resident Evil 4 about a year prior to this game's release, and where Resident Evil 4 has some semblance of horror, Kuon twists it and kills your entire family with it.

Kuon takes place in Japan during the Heian period (794-1185), which could be a rather interesting feature as not a whole lot of the games, if any, took place here. It was a rather important time for Japanese culture, especially since the first ever novel was written during this period. So what do they do with this? Well, initially like Resident Evil 2, it starts with you playing as one character and then playing as another, with their campaigns taking place at the same time as the other's. In this case, you play as Utsuki, who is looking for her father, the elder priest Doman. He was investigating a manor full of demons and... never came back, meaning that Utsuki and her older sister, Kureha, have to find him. The other character you play as is Sakuya, a disciple of Doman. Her job is to cleanse the manor of all the demons. Throughout both campaigns, you'll learn more about the demons and why they are in this manor, and in traditional survival horror fashion, it's convoluted. The fear of not knowing is ever so present as even though you'll learn more about your surroundings, it never sits quite right, meaning that you're learning about concepts and not entire story threads. While that's typically a bad thing, it works in a horror setting because the feat of not knowing is the greatest of all. Just when you think you're done, BAM, there's a third campaign that'll tie most of it together in a way that has everything making sense. Sadly, if we're being technical about it all, it's a decidedly average story. It relies on being disturbing as not much else is really all that interesting. The characters and the writing didn't do much outside of existing for the sake of an increasingly disturbing and convoluted story. Really. I just stayed for how much more disturbing it can get and I know you will too.

I hope you like tank controls, because Kuon uses them. I also hope you like pre-rendered camera angles, because Kuon loves to use them. I really hope you like the combination of tank controls and pre-rendered camera angles... that way, you might actually enjoy yourself. Now, you can also run, but it isn't advised... like, at all. Your light source won't show shit, bumping into objects (which is fairly easy given that we're using tank controls) may cause a ghost to appear, and if you bump into a Tempest, you'll get fucked up as your health will drain during those moments. Oh, and running will eventually land you into a state of vertigo, which will make you move like shit. So yeah, get used to doing a lot of walking, because that's all you can do without risking being on the receiving end of an anal raping, prison style.

Typically, survival horror games present you with a level that needs to be explored, and a bunch of keys that need to be found. Kuon does this and it's probably the most competent thing it does. Doesn't mean it's good because watching shit petrify sounds more enthralling than this, plus there's the whole “no running in the halls” thing going on, but at least the design of the mansion itself works. There's still the matter of finding sets of items in order to open up doors and solve puzzles, though these kimonos seem to have bottomless pockets as you can carry shitloads of items with you. Navigating is straightforward enough, at least. That much, I can positively say about it.

Kuon suffers from the same thing a lot of games of its ilk do - clunky combat. Both of our girls have access to a two-hit combo attack with their knives or fans, but it feels like they attack a tad too slowly and their second attack tends to miss. That, and combat really boils down to "I hit you, you hit me and the winner goes on their merry way". There isn't a whole lot to it that's engaging or exciting... or even scary, unless demons jumping up to dry hump your face is your idea of scary. You'll also have access to spell cards that you'll find throughout the game. These range from fire and ice attacks to summoning creatures to do your bidding, and although they're a bit slower to fire off, they're a lot more powerful than your knife attacks. The idea is that certain spells work best on certain demons, but experimentation isn't actively encouraged. The cards aren't infinite, and there aren't a lot to be found, so like any survival horror game, conservation is the name of the game. Save the big stuff for more urgent moments, like bosses or stronger demons. It doesn't save the combat from being clunky though. Ooh, and before I forget... you can't avoid combat. No fancy maneuvers around the enemies are available – they block your way and you have to fight them. Yeah, wasn't survival horror about surviving, not just fighting? Guess not!

It's a total shame, because Kuon has some spectacular graphics and excellent sound design. It certainly shows that it takes place in the Heian period as the manor and the clothes worn by our human characters certainly look like they're from that era. Not only that, but the demons look either somewhat derranged or pretty damn crazy. They're the kind of thing you'd want to fight in a survival horror game, especially nowadays in a market full of zombies. The atmosphere is not only authentic, but also intense. There are some dull grays and browns... on top of vibrant shades of blood red. It's like “damn, this manor got trashed something fierce”, and all it does is entice you into exploring more of it, which is exactly what a good survival horror game does. For an added bonus, the cutscenes look great. The animations are fluid and the amount of detail put into everything is damn fine by PS2 standards. An interesting detail is that there aren't many facial animations, which looks baffling until you start thinking “at least it doesn't look like some Jet Li shitfest when I switch to the English soundtrack”.

Speaking of which, the sound design is just as sweet. There isn't much music, but what little there is, is actually enough to give you the chills. That, or get you pumped up for a shitty boss fight, it just depends on what you're doing. Other than that, you'll be hearing footsteps and sudden loud noises, resulting in the calm before jump scares. But then there are some ominous noises in the distance, and it becomes a matter of whether something jumps out a little while later... or a lot later. It's not the best in the world, but it's the perfect shiner for Akira Yamaoka's soundboard. The voice acting, regardless of language, is pretty good, though the Japanese voice acting is superior. I don't know, it just sounds much more authentic, given the period and whatnot. The English voice acting is just if you don't want to read subtitles, and all you're missing is the authenticity... which is actually this game's second biggest strength... wow...

Really, my problem with Kuon is its interpration of survival. In Resident Evil, for instance, you're surviving against the odds. You have one bullet left, no herbs or first aid sprays and a bunch of zombies to take down. Do you use your pitiful knife to slowly take them down or try to outmaneuver them? That's the kind of situation any good survival horror game puts you in. Kuon, on the other hand, takes that situation and covers the floor with glass while you're tied to a device that's ready to rip out your spine at any moment. That's not survival horror; it's more like “fuck you and then some”. The big middle finger to survival horror. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm about to play a game that doesn't make me feel like the controller is covered with acid and spikes with the TV blaring out subliminal messages telling me to convert the heathens.

3/10 (Bad)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Review: Prince Of Persia (2008)

Fresh off their success with Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft decided to give the Prince Of Persia another stab. Given the immense popularity of the Sands Of Time trilogy (Forgotten Sands didn't exist then and if you ask me, it still doesn't exist, *bleep* that game), a Prince Of Persia label would help this new project fly off shelves. Well, 1.95 million people have found themselves the victim of a crazy new experiment in video gaming, to see if Ubisoft can rival Quantic Dreams's Indigo Prophecy in terms of a movie-like experience, only instead of flashing buttons you have to press on the top of the screen, you'll need to associate ascension with the actions involving the pressing of the A button and then the Y button if the gap is too wide.

Yeah, I'm on the fence with this one, kids. There are plenty of good ideas but the execution ranges from passable to *bleep*ing weak. Holy shit, I wanted to love this game and while it's one of the few games in this generation that I've completed more than once, it's no dream come true as... well, the reason for the second playthrough is to try and figure out why I'm playing this game a second time. It's strange, isn't it? Maybe with age (things change in 3 years - for one thing, I've graduated from high school since then), a developed sense of taste and maybe a dash of cynicism, I found myself wanting to play this again just to see if this would still be good for me. Is it? Eh to put it simple, it's a big game with sky high towers and a thunderous soundtrack, but as they say, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. The fact that I'm able to type this review assures you that it didn't necessarily fall down too hard, but I don't know, I haven't been able to walk right for the past few years and the pain has come back in full force since replaying this game.

An unnamed bandit-looking guy (let's just call him the Prince) is out in the desert, looking for his donkey who is carrying a king's ransom in gold. One day, he bumps into the princess of a nearby kingdom, Elika. She's on the run from the guards, so he takes down a few guards and they retreat to a temple... which just so happens to have the main bad guy sealed within it. Good thing he's sealed, right? Well, her father happens to be in the temple, and he cuts the tree of life, which sets Ahriman free and purges the land around the temple in a sort of icy darkness. From there, the Prince and Elika will have to purge the land of corruption by healing the fertile grounds and collecting light seeds to power up Elika's magical Ahura powers. Throughout the game, you'll learn more about the land around you, how the kingdom ran before everyone ran away and the buildings became all raggedy and shit, and most importantly, why Elika's father did what he did, and to say the least, it's something that'll actually take you by surprise, even if you listen to what Elika says throughout.

Part of it is because there isn't heaps of exposition strewn throughout but most of it is because the writing is actually pretty damn good. The Prince and Elika talk... like human *bleep*ing beings! They say stuff in ways that humans talk, and they've got pretty good chemistry together as they dish out some banter. Mind you, the Prince might as well be Nathan Drake because they have similar mannerisms (see: complete smartass with a heart of gold) and are both voiced by Nolan North, but whatever, his personality in tandem with Elika's more serious personality (though she's not above cracking jokes) manages to work well enough to keep you engaged into a fairly good story. You can also talk to Elika during gameplay by pressing the left bumper or left trigger, but it completely stops gameplay, which actually discouraged me from doing it too often. Come on, it wouldn't hurt that much to let you play while they talk like that, right? But ah well, little things like that aren't the end of the world...

The game boasts a hell of a artistic visual style. It's all cel shaded and quite frankly, it's very effective as the environments either look calm and peaceful with serene colors when on healed grounds, or dark and dreary when treading on corrupted grounds. But I have to say, the most impressive thing I can say about the graphics is the scale. Each of the lands are big, making it feel like you're on this epic pilgrimage to purge the land of all corruption. Hell, when you're climbing the buildings, it really does feel like you ARE climbing a building as it looks huge when necessary. The draw distance is also incredible, as things look beautiful from afar, and again with the scale of things, when you look further out, there's still a lot down there and around you. Things are still aesthetically presentable even when they're far away. That's something a lot of sandbox games have trouble with as things pop up or look kind of crummy until you get closer to them and they start looking halfway decent and although Prince Of Persia 08 is not a sandbox game, it does pretty much take place in one big level with maybe a few sub levels. Oh, and did I mention how smooth the animation is? Holy hell, not a single frame looks stiff, too fluid or out of place. The animation flows ever so seamlessly. It's just a joy to look at, really.

The sound design is just as impressive. The soundtrack ranges from loud and dramatic to intensify the journey to the boss and then when fighting the boss, to a calmer track when you've healed that fertile ground and you're out collecting light seeds. The songs manage to convey the right moods pretty damn well. They may seem like your typical Hollywood bombastic symphonic affair, but there are some middle eastern influences in there to help separate it from everything else. The voice acting is also pretty good. I mean, the Prince does sound a bit out of place as he sounds more American than Persian, but given that Nolan does the whole "smartass with a heart of gold" thing justice, I'll let it slide. Same for Elika and her father. They sound more middle eastern, but still a bit American too. Ahriman has like five hundred different voices and they all sound deliciously evil. Well, one just sounds cheesy, but the rest gave me the feeling that maybe Elika's father wasn't quite there in the head when he decided to break the seal.

And yet all of this is a wasted effort. Prince Of Persia 08, for all its bells and whistles, has very underwhelming gameplay. The idea is that the Prince is able to jump across gaps, scale across walls and have Elika's Ahura power give the Prince an extra lift. Unfortunately, this is the kind of game that plays itself for you as the most interaction you ever really have is pressing A to jump, Y for an extra lift and B to swing across rings on the wall. Pardon me for sounding silly, maybe I'm just suffering from a mild form of dementia, but isn't the point of a game to INTERACT with your environment?? This is like the bare minimum for interaction! It's like a glorified quick time event!

Going through a lot of the levels becomes a chore as you'll find yourself... just doing that. The only thing resembling a challenge I've found is getting the right timing to pass these blobs of corruption that go up and down or side to side on some walls. It really feels like they just wanted to show off how great the game looks because in reality, you're not doing much if anything else except sometimes jumping from wall to wall and moving along a climbable surface. You could boil down any game to that simple formula, but most games at least try to make things engaging enough to make you want to pay attention to the gameplay and not the pretty *bleep*ing graphics.

Oh, there is something that may require something resembing cognitive activity, and they are in the form of two of the four Power Pads. One of them has you running across a surface, and you'll need to dodge some obstacles. Another one has you flying through the air... and you'll have to dodge obstacles. It is possible to bump into obstacles here, but it's nothing you can't conquer after one mistake. The other two Power Pads just have you jumping around to other Power Pads (often of the same color) and then onto another part of that segment of that region. But they're really just there so that you can admire the pretty graphics some more.

Look, I don't hate the fact that it's easy or not very punishing; I hate the fact that it's so *bleep*ing boring! At first, running and jumping around collecting Light Seeds and fighting the bosses is fun as shit! It's this brand new thing and it gets you excited to see what'll be next around the bend! But then you have to do it all over again with some differentiations – regions have segments with a high amount of “been there done that” placed every which way (oh man ANOTHER TOWER TO CLIMB!!??!?), and it's not just the level structures themselves. YOU HAVE TO FIGHT THE EXACT SAME BOSS AGAIN!!! Regions are looked after by four bosses that you have to fight a grand total of SIX TIMES EACH! By the third or fourth time, I was wishing for something else because they require the exact same method in each fight...

...then by the time I got a taste of each of the four bosses, I was disappointed to learn that they all fight roughly the same way. They have a quick attack, a mid-paced attack and a wind up attack. They knock you onto the ground and you have to press the on screen button to prevent them from getting health back (oh, you don't die, Elika saves you and restores your health). They CONSTANTLY parry your attacks and you need to press right trigger to deflect their attack and let me tell you something – this especially gets really *bleep*ing old! You can come up with some really cool combos and it's pretty much encouraged that you use your sword, Elika's magic, your gauntlet and acrobatic moves in tandem with one another in order to beat the bosses quicker.

But you're not beating them down quickly in a sort of adrenaline rush; you're beating them down quickly because you just want to move on. That's bad boss design 101 - especially this one boss who can only be defeated by knocking him off of the edge of the battlefield. I'll give it points for at least changing it up a little bit, but I'm taking them away and then some because this is even lamer and a lot more tedious, especially if he gets parry heavy (which is very likely because IT'S A CHALLENGE HURR). I could talk more about combat IF THERE WAS MORE COMBAT – there's bugger all, with the occasional enemy at specific points (usually between segments), and even that can be stopped by attacking before it fully materializes. Disgusting. This is that thing that could've been really cool too, because the combat does open itself up to being fun! If there was a bigger variety of bosses and a few more enemies, it could've turned my frown upside down.

Bottom line: I suppose if you're looking for a lazy man's game, this is fine as it almost practically plays itself for you, but if you crave something resembling interaction and requiring some brain activity beyond simple visual association, Prince Of Persia 08 is your mother*bleep*ing Kryptonite! It drives me insane when I have to rip on a game that had plenty of potential, especially ones that do manage to tick lots of boxes. Half Life 1, LA Noire and Prince Of Persia 08 had heaps going for them, but they all share one flaw in common – they're not all that engaging to play! While games have specific aims, one common goal is to be fun and this game fails so *bleep*ing badly in that department, it's like that one time when I twisted my knee. I'd say avoid this game like IGN avoids journalistic integrity, but there are plenty of people who liked this game a lot as well. It's really your decision at the end of the day, but if you do buy this and don't find it that appealing, eh, I'm always here to validate that.

5/10 (Average)