Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones
|Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones|
|Series||Prince of Persia|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 2, GameCube, Microsoft Windows, Xbox, Mobile, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Mac OS X|
PlayStation Portable, Wii
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, hack and slash, platform|
Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft Montreal. It was released for PlayStation 2, GameCube Microsoft Windows and Xbox. It was censored and ported to the PlayStation Portable and Wii, under the title Prince of Persia: Rival Swords with the Wii version utilizing the motion-sensing functionality of its controller, while the PSP version added exclusive content and local multiplayer
The Two Thrones is the final chapter of the Sands of Time trilogy, but it was not the last game to be set in its continuity. Two spin-off games set between the trilogy's previous chapters, Battles of Prince of Persia and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, were released, with the former being available just days after Two Thrones was released.
The game combines exploration and combat. Both elements make use of the Prince's acrobatic capability and agility. Throughout much of the game, the player must attempt to traverse the palace by running across walls, ascending or descending chasms by jumping back and forth between walls, avoiding traps, climbing structures and jumping from platform to platform, making other types of well-timed leaps, solving puzzles and using discovered objects to progress. There are also a few on-rails sequences where the Prince must ride a chariot along a long stretch of road at a dangerous, fast speed, requiring the player to avoid obstacles and fend off enemies along the way.
During combat, many of the same moves vital to the player in other situations can be put to use to overpower enemies. An example is the ability of the Prince to jump off walls in order to strike enemies decisively. The player generally attacks enemies and blocks using a dagger, although other objects or factors, such as the Dagger of Time and its time-control abilities eventually prove to be critical to victory. The Dagger of Time can also be upgraded by disabling "sand gates" that enemies may use to summon reinforcements, which will increase the number of sand charges it can hold for its powers and eventually unlock two new abilities that consume multiple sand charges to damage or destroy multiple enemies at once. Continuing the freeform fighting style employed in Warrior Within, the Prince can also obtain secondary weapons from defeated enemies or weapon racks and use them in dual wield combat, with most weapons having limited durability and becoming unusable after a certain amount of hits, or after they are thrown as projectiles or dropped when the Prince turns into the Dark Prince. The Wii version of the 2007 port, Rival Swords implements attacks with generic shakes of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, with the former swinging the Dagger and the latter swinging the equipped secondary weapon.
In The Two Thrones, the Prince's acrobatic skills have improved and is now able to launch himself off walls at 45 degree angles at strategically placed vertical shutters, slide down chutes and balance on swinging poles, among other things. The designers have also improved the stealth system. Instead of merely being able to do more damage when striking without being seen, the game uses a speed kill system to provide a single opportunity to instantly defeat an enemy or two. To succeed in doing so, the player must press the attack button at certain times (with the number of required hits and the intervals between each attack cue depending on the target); failure to do so results in the target throwing off the Prince. The same system is also integral to dealing damage in some of the boss battles. Attacks against enemies feature graphic violence effects that can be toggled in the in-game options menu, but are removed in Rival Swords.
The Prince also develops a split personality, known as the Dark Prince, and this alter ego constantly bickers with him in his mind about right and wrong as just an inner voice for most of the time. At certain times, the Prince will automatically and physically transform into the Dark Prince, which the player cannot do at will. During these times, however, the Prince retains control of his body, and the player still has control over the character. When controlling the Dark Prince, the player loses the ability to wield a secondary weapon, instead using the "Daggertail", a bladed whip fused to his arm. This special weapon can slash enemies at mid-range and is critical to pulling blocks out of walls and grappling along torches or high bars to cross long gaps. The Dark Prince also constantly loses health as a result of the semi-transformation, with eventual death from the loss. He goes back to full health whenever he collects Sand, from either a monster or object. Also, his Daggertail has a different control scheme for speed kills, in which the player repeatedly presses the attack button to make him saw off the heads of his victims (or strangle them if blood effects are disabled) with this weapon. The Prince will turn back to normal upon stepping into water, which cannot be avoided.
Throughout the game, the Prince can find up to six branching side routes to earn health upgrades, as well as earn sand credits to unlock concept art by collecting sand charges, destroying sand chests and disabling sand gates throughout the city. The Prince can only recover health by drinking water from certain areas or at save fountains, but can also fully recover health when changing to and from the Dark Prince. If the Prince or Dark Prince dies from losing all health, a chariot accident or a fatal fall and the player is unable or unwilling to use the Dagger's recall power to reverse his demise, play continues from either the last save fountain he used or checkpoint he passed, with a few of the latter present between most save fountains.
The PlayStation Portable version of the 2007 port, Rival Swords, expands the single-player mode by adding a few more chariot sequences and requiring the player to complete an obstacle course inside a sand gate to disable it. Also exclusive to this version is a local wireless 2-player racing mode that pits the Prince against a separated Dark Prince in foot races that demand skilled platforming and feature multiple routes and traps that can be activated by the opponent.
The game is set after the events of Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, in which the Prince kills the Dahaka, saves Kaileena and prevents the Sands of Time from being created. Unlike the previous games, the story is narrated by Kaileena. The Prince's actions alter the timeline of events that took place before that point. In the original timeline, the Vizier and Maharajah traveled to the Island of Time and found an hourglass filled with the Sands of Time. In the modified timeline, they find the hourglass empty. Since the Vizier never released the Sands of Time and fought the Prince, he is still alive at the beginning of this game. Farah, who helped the Prince during the events for Sands of Time, has never met the Prince.
As The Prince and Kaileena return to the city of Babylon, they find it being ravaged by war. Their ship is attacked and destroyed, and he and Kaileena wash ashore. The Prince awakens and watches as enemy soldiers take Kaileena away. The Prince fights his way into the palace and confronts the Vizier, who kills Kaileena with the Dagger of Time, unleashing the Sands again. The Vizier then impales himself with it and makes himself immortal. The Prince is also affected, having a whip-like weapon known as a Daggertail embedded in his skin when the Sands infect the wound. However, in the confusion following the release of the Sands, the Vizier throws the Dagger aside and the Prince manages to steal it before the Sands infected him completely.
The Prince falls into the sewers and gets carried to the outskirts of Babylon. As he travels through the city once again to kill the Vizier, he finds that the infection caused by the Sands of Time is affecting his mind, giving rise to an alter ego called the Dark Prince (voiced by Rick Miller), manifested by a voice within. The Dark Prince is cold, cruel, arrogant and sarcastic; he attempts to convince the Prince that he should strive to serve only himself, using his vengeance as a catalyst for his other emotions. On many occasions, the Dark Prince seizes control of the Prince's body and the Prince is fully transformed into a hybrid sand monster with abilities that allow the Prince to pass otherwise insurmountable obstacles. The Prince makes efforts to keep his transformation a secret to everyone, most evident when he is forced to flee into the sewers when he begins to transform shortly after people witness his victory over the hulking Klompa, a general of the Vizier, at the arena where they were imprisoned.
Later, the Prince encounters Farah (voiced by Helen King), who is surprised that the Prince knows her name. Despite this, the pair begin to grow an entirely new romance together, but it does not hold easily when the Dark Prince's influence causes the Prince to act aggressively and unreasonably, leading Farah to question his character. After Farah sets out to rescue women at a brothel and the Prince briefly parts to defeat Mahasti, another trusted general of the Vizier, Farah ends up discovering the Prince transformed into Dark Prince not long after he kills Mahasti, and her distrust of him comes to a head. She tries to stay away from him and the Prince continues into the city alone.
Realizing the negative impact the Dark Prince's corruption is having on his relationship with Farah, the Prince resolves to change his attitude and begins to ignore the Dark Prince. He resolves to fight against the suffering of his people, which the Dark Prince had always spoken against. With the occasional help of the Dark Prince's powers, the Prince gets to the royal workshop and uses a statue of his father to smash a way out for people trapped in a fire, including the old man in Warrior Within, who now expresses hope that the Prince can save his empire after initially doubting his ability to change fate. The Prince then chases and defeats two more of the Vizier's generals, armed with a sword and an axe, with Farah returning in the nick of time to finish them off. They are then cornered by the Vizier's sand army, but are saved by the rescued citizens of Babylon, mobilizing as an unexpected army arriving to repay the Prince for saving them. They cut an opening through the enemy forces to help the two heroes escape.
They eventually reunite at the palace entrance, where the Prince apologizes to Farah for his past arrogant and reckless attitude under the Dark Prince's influence. The Prince then repairs an elevator to bring the two to the palace's hanging gardens. Deeper into the gardens, the Vizier captures Farah and casts the Prince into an ancient well, where the long silent Dark Prince emerges once again and tries to take permanent control. The Prince desperately tries to resist the power, driving slowly deeper into the well looking for an escape, but he slowly weakens. At the bottom of the well, the Prince stumbles upon the dead body of his father Sharaman. He mourns for him, picking up his father's sword and accepting the consequences of what he has done to finally suppress the Dark Prince's ability to control his body. With a new resolve to set things right, the Prince fights his way underground and back into the palace halls, before ascending its massive tower to finally face the Vizier and free Farah.
At the top of the palace's tower, the Prince confronts and kills The Vizier with the Dagger of Time. The Sands are released from the Vizier and his soldiers who die slowly. Seeing this the people of Babylon rejoice. The Sands take the shape of Kaileena who cures the Prince's infection and destroys the Dagger of Time. She tells that this world wasn't meant for her but there will be other worlds for her where she will find her place. She tells the Prince that he's free and his journey is at an end and disappears. As the Prince finds Sharaman's crown, the Dark Prince takes it and tells him that whatever the Prince owns will be rightfully be his and lures the Prince into his mind, where the two struggle until the Prince abandons his shadow with the help of Farah's voice. The game ends with Farah asking how the Prince knows her name and the Prince answers by beginning to retell a story about his first experience with the Sands of Time in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
By the end of December 2005, sales of The Two Thrones had surpassed 1.5 million copies. The game received a "Gold" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 200,000 copies in the United Kingdom.
Two Thrones and Rival Swords received mixed to positive reviews, with the original release deemed slightly superior over its re-release. GameRankings and Metacritic gave the game a score of 86.45% and 85 out of 100 for the PlayStation 2 version; 86.35% and 85 out of 100 for the Xbox version; 85.25% and 84 out of 100 for the GameCube version; 82.81% and 85 out of 100 for the PC version; 82.40% for the mobile version; 71.22% and 70 out of 100 for the Wii version; and 70.44% and 74 out of 100 for the PSP version.
IGN gave the PC version 9 out of 10, saying, "Two Thrones is great. The story is cool, the heroes are likable, the weak are pitiable, the villains are bastards, the major plot points are exciting, the art is grand, the sound is wonderful...and then the gameplay comes." GameSpy gave the original Two Thrones release four stars, saying of the PC version, "All of [the] settings, without exception, are stunning. As might be expected, the sharper, more detailed graphics for the PC version of the game are the clear winner when compared with the consoles, especially at higher resolutions." GameSpy graded Rival Swords a half-star lower. GameSpot gave the PC version 8.4 out of 10.
Non video-game publications gave the game some positive reviews. The A.V. Club gave the game an A− and stated: "The nice thing about sequels to successful games is that all the rough edges are buffed out, and The Two Thrones honors its graceful hero with impeccable controls and design." Maxim gave it a score of eight out of ten and said that the game "gets points for cribbing Sam Fisher's stealth skills and using a whip-like weapon that will send "God of War" fans scurrying to gaming chat rooms to voice their displeasure with the similarities. Thankfully, the controversy is worth it for this energetic adventure." The Times gave it a favorable review and said, "The graphics are superb, especially on the Xbox, and if you can cope with the frustration of replaying tricky scenes again and again, this could be the game for you." The Sydney Morning Herald also gave it four stars out of five and stated that "One of the best new features is the Speed Kill, a stealth attack that requires timed button presses for successful take-downs - a brilliant addition to the already exhilarating game play." Detroit Free Press gave the PS2 version three stars out of four and said, "The fighting in The Two Thrones is superb. The prince has a nice array of combination moves that accompany his acrobatic skills. But the signature part of combat is the speed kill, which allows you some nifty and gruesome stealth kills." However, Charles Herold of The New York Times gave it an average review and stated that "I felt all the considerable pleasure the game had given me had been taken back."
Aspects of the Dark Prince character have appeared in the film adaptation of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, such as his signature Daggertail being wielded by an enemy assassin. Two unlockable cosmetics for the Wii version of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, a tie-in game used to promote the film, are inspired by Two Thrones: a weapon skin resembling the king's sword acquired near the end of Two Thrones and a costume inspired by the Dark Prince. The Prince's normal appearance in Two Thrones is also a costume for the Nintendo DS version of The Forgotten Sands.
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