Long-running game franchise “Prince of Persia” goes Hollywood next summer with a movie produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, directed by Mike Newell (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”) and starring Jake Gyllenhaal. So you might expect the latest game keeps everything status quo. Not so fast. It’s already reboot time. And this new “Prince” makes some changes to the series, though largely for the better.
The most obvious and striking difference is in the graphics, which now have a stylized, cell-shaded look reminiscent of a graphic novel or anime. Cosmetics aside, the biggest change is actually in how the game is structured.
Previous editions mixed sword play and acrobatics equally, but this version features far more running and jumping, as you figure out where the Prince needs to go and what kind of ninja-like moves (jumping, flipping, wall-running) you need to use to get there. All of which is made easier by the game’s taut controls. Plus, the Prince’s metal glove—which looks like it was made to be worn by Wolverine, Freddy Krueger and/or Beyoncé—helps get a firm grip on all kinds of surfaces.
There are fewer battles than usual and instead of fighting groups of guys at the same time, you’ll just have one to contend with. In a switch that may not sit well with fans of button-mashing swordplay, it takes a combination of moves to emerge victorious. But that’s actually a rather welcome change for a series that has never excelled at combat.
Series purists may also gripe about the Prince’s new BFF Elika, who not only helps him fight and reach hard-to-reach places, but also magically saves his butt from misjudged jumps and enemy smackdowns. That may sound like it makes the game less challenging, but it’s really just a creative way to replace reloading the game or starting over from a checkpoint.
There is one change sure to annoy everyone: the voice acting. It’s not bad, per se, it’s just far too modern sounding. The Prince sounds like he’s from Bel Air, not Persia, which doesn’t fit the ancient Arabic vibe.
Overall, this installment improves on the series’ combat while retaining the joyful acrobatics that help it stand out. Let’s just hope the movie is as much fun.
Bottom Line: Expect some new twists, but his name is still Prince, and he is still funky.