Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

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Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
Prince of Persia - Warrior Within Coverart.png
Developer(s)Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher(s)Ubisoft
Gameloft (iOS)[2]
Director(s)Jean-Christophe Guyot
Producer(s)Bertrand Hélias
Designer(s)Kevin Guillemette
Programmer(s)Régis Geoffrion
Writer(s)Corey G. May
Michael Wendschuh
Composer(s)Stuart Chatwood
SeriesPrince of Persia
EngineJade
Platform(s)GameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Mobile, BlackBerry, iOS, PlayStation Portable
ReleaseGameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox
  • NA: December 2, 2004[1]
  • EU: December 3, 2004
Mobile
  • NA: December 21, 2004
BlackBerry
  • NA: March 2006
iOS
  • WW: June 3, 2010
PlayStation Portable
  • NA: December 6, 2005
  • EU: December 16, 2005
Genre(s)Action-adventure, platform, hack and slash
Mode(s)Single-player

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within is a 2004 action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft for GameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, and Xbox on December 2, 2004. A port for the PlayStation Portable, titled Prince of Persia: Revelations, was developed and released by Pipeworks Software on December 6, 2005. A mobile version of Warrior Within was published by Gameloft on June 3, 2010 for the iPhone; however, due to issues with the in-game menu, it was pulled from the App Store for two weeks, re-releasing on June 18, 2010.

The game is the fifth main installment in the Prince of Persia series, and the sequel to 2003's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Set seven years after its predecessor, the story follows the Prince as he searches for a way to stop an entity called the Dahaka that is relentlessly pursuing him as punishment for his meddling with the Sands of Time. He travels to the mysterious Island of Time, where he attempts to prevent the Empress of Time from creating the Sands in the first place, hoping this act will appease the Dahaka.

Gameplay in Warrior Within builds upon that of The Sands of Time, adding new features, specifically, options in combat. The Prince has the ability to wield two weapons at a time as well as the ability to steal his enemies' weapons and throw them. The Prince's repertoire of combat moves has been expanded into varying strings that allow players to attack enemies with more complexity than was possible in the previous game. Warrior Within has a darker tone than its predecessor adding in the ability for the Prince to dispatch his enemies with various gory finishing moves. In addition to the rewind, slow-down, and speed-up powers from Sands of Time, the Prince also has a new sand power: a circular "wave" of sand that knocks down all surrounding enemies as well as damaging them.

Upon release, the game was generally well-received by critics, who singled out the improved combat, level design, story, and soundtrack. However, the radical shift in tone from its more light-hearted predecessor and the Prince's characterization garnered mixed reactions. Following Warrior Within, two more games set in The Sands of Time continuity were released: Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones on December 1, 2005, which is a direct sequel to Warrior Within; and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands on May 18, 2010, set between The Sands of Time and Warrior Within.

Gameplay[edit]

The Prince fighting one of the many monsters found throughout the game

Much as its predecessor, Warrior Within is a 3D platformer centered on exploration and melee combat. The level design revolves around navigating treacherous environments with parkour and freerunning-styled moves. Unlike Sands of Time, the game world is highly nonlinear; the player would often return to already visited locations several times from various directions, often traversing time portals to visit the same places in the present and the past in order to find ways around obstacles which would be impassable in either time alone. Secret areas can be found and explored to gain additional health points and unique weapons, which culminates in discovering a weapon capable of inflicting damage on the Dahaka, unlocking the game's canonical ending. In addition to normal platforming, the game also features episodes where the Prince is chased by the Dahaka and must quickly navigate trap-ridden hallways to reach safety. The game's atmosphere has a distinctive darker and grittier theme, in contrast to the colorful palette of the previous game.

The game's combat system preserves aspects of the prior game's dual wield melee combat, while introducing new ones. While Sands of Time designates a sword as the Prince's primary weapon and the Dagger of Time as his secondary weapon, Warrior Within makes the sword his mandatory primary weapon, while requiring him to obtain and find a secondary weapon from fallen enemies or weapon racks in order to use one. With this added feature, this new combat system emphasizes a free-flow fighting style. The idea is to use the environment, fifty eight secondary weapons and the Prince's own acrobatic abilities to dispatch enemies with ease and aggression, complete with graphic violence effects that can be toggled in the in-game options menu. Two-hand fighting introduces numerous additional acrobatic combos to dispatch enemies with greater efficiency and brutality. Off-hand weapons have varying bonuses and penalties applied to the player's damage and hit points; they can be thrown at enemies to allow a limited form of ranged combat. Most also have limited durability and break after a number of hits, or after they are thrown as projectiles. Aside from bosses, the enemies are sand creatures of varying sizes. Unlike the Sands of Time, where rounds of heavy combat are interspersed with rounds of exploration, enemies can be encountered anywhere along the way, alone and in packs; some common enemies would respawn as the player revisits locations.

As in Sands of Time, the Prince possesses limited control of time with his Medallion of Time; the Sands can be used for more efficient combat as well as to slow down and even rewind time, allowing the Prince to retry ill-timed jumps or escape Dahaka's clutches.

Plot[edit]

Seven years after the events of The Sands of Time, following the reversal of his devastating release of the Sands in the palace of Azad, the Prince is hunted by a being called the Dahaka as the Prince was destined to die after releasing the Sands. Seeking advice from a wise man, the Prince learns the Sands were created on a distant island by the Empress of Time. Despite the wise man's warnings about changing fate, the Prince resolves to travel to the island and prevent the Sands' creation. The Prince's ship is attacked by Shahdee, servant of the Empress, but he survives and washes up on the island. He chases Shahdee into the ruins and follows her through a time portal into the past, killing her in combat after finding her apparently attacking another woman Kaileena. Despite believing the Prince's efforts are futile, Kaileena helps him gain access to the Empress's throne room. During his efforts he is stalked by a being called the Sand Wraith, which is captured and killed by the Dahaka. Before confronting the Empress, the Prince offers to take her to Babylon, but she reluctantly refuses.

In the throne room, Kaileena reveals herself as the Empress, attacking the Prince in an attempt to change her fate of death at his hands. The Prince fights and kills her, but the Dahaka still pursues him; it was the Empress's death that created the Sands of Time. Briefly losing hope, the Prince finds a carving from the army which first recovered the Sands, detailing an artefact called the Mask of the Wraith that allows the wearer to change their fate. He plans to use a time portal to bring Kaileena into the present, allowing the Sands to be created while negating their discovery and transportation to Azad, freeing him from the Dahaka. The Mask transforms the Prince into the same Sand Wraith which stalked him before, and he sees Kaileena's efforts to change her fate despite Shahdee's pessimism, and that she was fighting with a rebellious Shahdee when the Prince appeared. As the Sand Wraith, the Prince succeeds in getting his other self taken by the Dahaka instead, taking his place in the timeline and freeing him of the Mask. The Prince continues to the throne room and, despite his pleas to Kaileena that they can change fate, she attacks him as before.

The ending changes depending on whether the Prince acquired a special weapon called the Water Sword. Without the Water Sword, the Prince kills Kaileena and the Dahaka absorbs her and all remnants of the Sands' power before vanishing. With the Water Sword, the Prince defends Kaileena from the Dahaka's attack and uses the Water Sword to kill it; the two build a boat and leave the island, sleeping together during the voyage. In both endings, Babylon is shown in flames and under attack from an invading army.

Development[edit]

Even before Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was released, the creative team already gathered to share their ideas for a sequel. According to producer Yannis Mallat, everyone wanted the follow-up to be darker, "closer to survival horror" and generating a sense of fear and oppression, and also develop the Prince further to make him more "grown up" and relatable.[3] The plot was eventually chosen to be "not just saving the world or saving a damsel, it's the story of the Prince of Persia and who, really, is this guy", with the starting point being him doomed for having tampered with the Sands of Time, as opposed to how in the first game undoing the past let him get away with no bad consequences.[4] Mallat found The Sands of Time short, so the sequel would be three times longer, while being more fleshed out regarding level design and combat. For considering the powers of the Sands of Time were not so essential to the gameplay of the first game and thus were hardly used by players, the gameplay of Warrior Within would integrate them further with moments that required "specific actions to be done". The world would be more open-ended to give a higher degree of freedom, and the different time periods would allow for level design changes.[3] As detailed by producer Bertrand Helias, the revamped combat system was employed to highlight how the danger would bring up the Prince's fighting skills to test.[5] Considering complaints on the final boss of The Sands of Time, focus would be given on finishing with a proper climactic battle.[3]

Art director Mikael Labat said that the new artistic direction aimed for a "more oppressive, almost mystical atmosphere", featuring "imposing, vertiginous" architecture, focusing on "place[s] you wouldn’t like to spend your holidays" like fortresses and prisons. Each time period would express opposite feelings through different palettes and elements, with the present having the "desolation and chaos" of desaturated colors and buildings overtook by vegetation, while the past has brighter colors and a "luxurious, and still somehow intimidating" look. Persia still served as the main visual influence, only this time focusing on more ancient Near East locations like Babylon and its Hanging Gardens. The new character design had more variety in the enemy types, and the Prince himself had a new appearance to convey being older and more mature, with longer hair and beard, and his costume reflected the character's skills with armor and bandages that were protective yet flexible enough for his athletic moves.[6] The graphic design was improved over the first game, with additional detail to character models and environments, and improvements to the lighting engine. The aim was to create as realistic a render as possible of the team's artwork, whether it was realistic or fantastical.[7]

Director Patrice Désilets would remain from the first game, but as he was unsure on if he wanted to remain with the series, he instead started a separate project that would become Assassin's Creed.[8] The game had a change of voice actors; the Prince is voiced by Robin Atkin Downes, in the previous (and following) game he was voiced by Yuri Lowenthal. Kaileena is voiced by Italian actress Monica Bellucci and a sound-alike actress (Alicyn Packard).[9]

The Sands of Time featured a soundtrack by Stuart Chatwood, consisting of a fusion of Arabic- and Indian-influenced melodies with heavy metal. Chatwood remained the composer for Warrior Within, though the music became more guitar-oriented; it featured Godsmack's "I Stand Alone" without vocals as the Dahaka's chase theme and "Straight Out of Line" over the game's credits.[10][3]

Reception[edit]

According to Ubisoft, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within sold 1.9 million units worldwide in its debut month.[52] Warrior Within's PlayStation 2 version received a "Gold" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[53] indicating sales of at least 200,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[54]

Critical reviews of Warrior Within ranged from critical acclaim to mixed. The GameCube, PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions received "favorable" reviews, while the iOS and PSP versions received "mixed or average reviews" according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.[46][47][48][49][50][51] Elsewhere, the mobile phone version received "universal acclaim" according to GameRankings.[55] Reviewers praised the inclusion and familiar platforming elements of the previous game with mixed feelings of the new combat elements.[25][36] Warrior Within also contained more content than The Sands of Time, taking anywhere from 15–20 hours to complete.[21]

Jordan Mechner, who was the creator of the original Prince of Persia and worked on The Sands of Time but not Warrior Within, however, commented in Wired that "I'm not a fan of the artistic direction, or the violence that earned it an M rating. The story, character, dialog, voice acting, and visual style were not to my taste."[56]

Eurogamer complained that the game lost much of its charm by making the game's visuals grimier, the story less involving and mature compared to Sands of Time, and the addition of blood and scantily-clad female characters was in poor taste.[15] Penny Arcade parodied the Prince in comic form, claiming the once witty, likeable Prince character, turned into a more aggressive Gothic character, making him a "cookie cutter brooding tough guy with zero personality."[57][58] GameSpot, who in their year-end awards griped on the tonal shift saying that "the series had to lose a measure of its soul for us to enjoy more of that fantastic gameplay",[59] also criticized the game for having uneven difficulty progression and numerous glitches and bugs.[21]

IGN gave the Mobile version 9.6 out of 10, calling it "Gameloft's triumph" and "likely the best game of the year."[60] GameSpot gave the same version 9.2 out of 10, calling it "a dominant game on its own merits, but it's identical to the first game in one respect: Anyone who is remotely interested in playing an action game on their handset should download it."[61] In Japan, Famitsu gave the PS2 version a score of one nine, two eights, and one nine for a total of 34 out of 40.[62]

Non video-game publications also gave the game some favorable reviews. Detroit Free Press gave the Xbox version all four stars and stated: "The prince has gone from an "Aladdin"-style teenager to a grim, angry young adult. He's even more beautifully drawn than before, and this year's installment adds a much better combat system."[44] The Sydney Morning Herald gave the game four stars out of five, saying, "Exploring the labyrinthine citadel is rewarding, although backtracking and frequent deaths can be frustrating."[45] However, The New York Times panned the game by giving it an unfavorable review and stating that, "The tone of the game has gone from an Arabian Nights fantasy to something akin to a Marilyn Manson music video. In dark and grimy settings, the once gallant prince curses and jeers as he swings his sword at demons whose decapitations are lovingly shown in slow motion to a soundtrack of screeching guitars."[63]

The editors of Computer Gaming World nominated Warrior Within for their 2004 "Action Game of the Year" award, which ultimately went to The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay.[64]

References[edit]

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