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That’s the Name of the Game: Prince of Persia’s Argument for Games as Art
Late last year, Ubisoft released another iteration to their popular Prince of Persia series. At the time, reviews were favorable, noting the game’s art style. Critics also noted that the game was very easy, almost holding your hand while you traversed the dangerous landscape in the game.
This mechanic came with the inclusion of Elika, a princess your character is trying to assist in returning her land to a state of peace, ridding it of a powerful God named Ahramin. There are a lot of layers here, and the story is extremely developed. It takes its material from what Wikipedia refers to as “Zoroastrianism.” While this is all very interesting, the player has the option to completely pass over the details.
And that’s perfectly fine too. Why? Because Prince of Persia is absolutely gorgeous. Everything is detailed, layered, colorful, lively, bright (even when its dark), imaginative, –I can’t say enough about the visuals.
The game engine is heavily modified with a lot of cel-shading and vivid textures. Everything seems to breathe despite the fact that it may not interact with the player. The same engine powers Assassin’s Creed and Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway. I think its safe to say that I hope Ubisoft continues to use this engine, tweaking it to fit the game’s mood and style as well as it has in Prince of Persia.
But back to the “hand-holding.” It’s really odd splitting my gaming time between Street Fighter IV and Prince of Persia. They seem like polar opposites on the difficulty scale. But what I wonder most is whether or not I would be OK with PoP’s difficulty if it weren’t so gosh darn gorgeous? Maybe… Video games follow cultural trends all the time, and the downturn of difficulty in games is something that’s been happening over time. But really, being able to walk through Prince of Persia really makes it seem MORE like art. Hear me out: for me, in order for something to be considered art, people have to have the ABILITY to appreciate it. Nevermind whether or not they appreciate it, they at least have to be able to see it (or hear it, or feel it, whatever medium the art is in…). So, as games, or gamers really, try more and more to define video games as art, more and more people are going to have to be able to experience them all the way through. That’s what Prince of Persia can do. While people are experiencing the Wii, flailing about playing Wii Sports will not convince anyone that video games are artistic in anyway. But at least maybe it will open the door to other games, like Prince of Persia.
While this isn’t a review, and I’m a little late to the party as the game was released way back in December, I would highly recommend PoP to anyone and everyone. It is a great example of what the medium can do and it won’t break your dedication, or put you off video games. If you don’t want to sit through very much story, you won’t have to, but there’s plenty there to enjoy if you want. Prince of Persia is available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC, and Mac.
You can check out more of Daniel’s writing on Video Games at playreadwrite.blogspot.com.