The Two Thrones
Welcome back, fellow PC Retro aficionados, to another exciting edition of "Retro Prince of Persia". In this article, we'll be discussing the final in the new(er) Prince of Persia series. The first game was a critical success, and a revolution in game design with its time-travel techniques. The second one struck some as being derivative and too complicated for its own good - innovative in combat design, but not nearly enough to make gamers pass over the laughable "goth" motifs spread throughout. So how could the Ubisoft team redeem themselves? Simply by creating this third game.
The Two Thrones manages to mix the perfect amount of customizable combat and the traditional story of the first to make it an enjoyable experience on multiple levels. Two Thrones nixed the second game's "darker story" in favor of a story more along the lines of the first - easy to follow, time-travel specific, and with the added gimmick of the Prince turning into the "Dark Prince" - something that actually turns out to be more fun than just an annoying thing to put on the back of the box.
In terms of gameplay, the combat mirrors that of Warrior Within, with the welcome addition of "stealth kills" that make for some amazing kill-animations. The prince now operates solely using the Dagger of Time, but he picks up additional weapons for off-hand combos which adds to the spice of the game because operations with the dagger become increasingly essential to your survival. The "Dark Prince" controls in a very different way, wielding what could best be described as a chain with a dagger-tip as well as the Dagger of Time itself.
The story has also improved from the dark broodings of Warrior Within. Taking place back in the Persian empire with the evil Vizier attacking the empire - he was resuscitated by the events that unfolded in Warrior Within. After about an hour into the game, the Vizier kills Kaileena - the Empress of Time - who traveled with the Prince back to Persia, unleashing the Sands of Time, and unfolding events similar to those in the first game. The story employs Kaileena as the narrator, rather than the Prince himself (like in SoT), telling the story from a third-party perspective, all the while maintaining key insights about the Prince.
The interesting part about Two Thrones' time travel is that at last, we begin to see the consequences of what happens when you muck around with the timeline (a sure-to-be-favorite among Back to the Future fans). The Prince ultimately realizes that no matter how hard he tries, the timeline has a way of re-asserting itself, whether it be through the employ of the Dahaka, or through just bad karma.
The game concludes the Sands of Time trilogy quite nicely, leaving very few loose ends behind and answering most questions fans had about the series. Hopefully lightning will strike again a fourth time in the form of a new storyline this December with the new Prince of Persia. The series is set to take a more traditionally Persian route, telling mythological stories and adding a new AI-controlled partner.
Join us next time when we'll be going back to the series' roots with the first Prince of Persia and Jordan Mechner's original vision.