Battles of Prince of Persia ReviewCain Dornan
Battles of Prince of Persia is quite a leap from the franchise’s long-standing traditional platforming adventure aspects that have filled each of the series’ games. Where players once assumed the role of the young Prince as you run, jump, swing and fight your way through stunning surroundings, Battles of Prince of Persia places you into an entirely different, slower-paced world. No longer are you quickly swinging from pole-to-pole or battling hordes of ferocious creatures. Instead, you’ve swapped your sword and dagger for a deck of playing cards. Taking the next step, you’ve now jumped genres completely, deciding to settle in the slow-yet-sturdy genre of strategy. The end result is a game that is completely unlike any other Prince of Persia game that you have ever experienced, one that has very few similarities apart from the odd recognizable character and a recognisable storytelling that we have all grown to love.
Battles of Prince of Persia is essentially a turn-based strategy game. Rather than directly assuming control of a character, you become the commander of an army as you order your troops into war. Presented in a top-down view, your units are represented by small square tiles, with the terrain broken up into squares that determine where and how far a unit can move. To issue commands to your army, you need to play a card from your hand. You are allowed to use one card from your hand for each turn, with several turns being housed within a round, which grants you with a fresh set of card with each new round. There are various different cards on hand, each offering their own strengths and weaknesses. Some cards simply allow you to issue a basic order to a certain number of your soldiers, which consist of either a move-to or attack order, while others grant additional attack or defense to selected units. As you are limited to playing a single card for each turn, it is crucial that you carefully plan for the correct time to use each card.
Once you’ve issued a command to a unit, you’ll play witness to a short cutscene that shows your soldiers going into battle against the enemy. Considering that these videos are very simple and repetitive, the option to turn these off will likely be used after playing through a few missions. Once a unit has completed a command, they’ll become unusable for the rest of the round. The next round begins when both sides pass; that is, to finish their turn without performing any actions. The concept of the game is slightly difficult to fully grasp to begin with, taking roughly half an hour of full play before you’ll understand the use of all the different card types and various battle strategies that you’ll need to put into place.
Of course, there’s more to the game than simply clicking on your unit and then telling it to attack an enemy. With the various types of different units that you control, including swordsmen, pikemen, cavalry and catapults, each unit has individual attack and defense ratings, which affect their overall performance during battle. To lessen the tedious task of regularly comparing stats, the implementation of a simple worded ranking system allows you to quickly and easily compare how your unit will perform against an enemy unit. An Overwhelming rankings means that you’ll perform incredibly well against that unit, while Horrible indicates that your unit will likely be slaughtered in battle. It’s not an overly complex system, but it does add a solid level of tactical and strategy elements to the game, forcing you to decide on which units are best to compete against another.
The game’s storyline ties into the story used in The Sands of Time. The game is based within the same time period, with many of the character’s that featured in the first title making an appearance. Rather than being restricted to only playing as the Prince, you’ll also gain control of various other characters that are associated with the Prince’s world. The additional characters that you control include the Prince’s father, King Sharaman, and the ruler of India, Kalim. Each character offers a slightly varied collection of units at their disposal, which affects that strategy that you use to complete each mission.
Various different win conditions are on offer, which usually involve defeating all enemies on-screen or killing a specific unit – usually the general. Points are awarded according to the win condition, which varies further with certain unit types rewarding more points than others. While the different win conditions do aid in offering a mixture of gameplay types, the gameplay experience does feel slightly repetitive.
Three different gameplay modes are on offer, with the inclusion of an additional two that are used for the management and maintenance of your deck. The Campaign mode is the core single player mode, pitting you through a collection of storyline-driven battle events. There’s also Skirmish, which allows you to select from any of the game maps used in the Campaign mode and then select which win scenario, either defeat all enemy units, defeat the unit or gain control of the flag, which is situated within the enemy’s control. Full multiplayer support is on hand, including the ability of playing two-player battle using the single DS by swapping the system between two players on their go. You can also connect up with a second DS to play a versus match.
A simple card management mode has also been put into place. With each battle that you win you are rewarded with a set of new cards, which eventually builds into a mess of unwanted and useless cards without controlling which cards appear in your hand, making deck management a crucial strategic element that allows you to define which cards appear in your hand. You can also trade any cards that you own with a friend through the DS wireless capabilities, allowing you to obtain further powerful cards for your use.
On the visual side, Battles of Prince of Persia is plain and boring to look at. The environment textures are flat and uninspired, while the character models used in the battle cutscenes offer very little detail. The music aspects of the game are slightly more satisfying, as a mixture of middle-eastern type music, similar to that used in the Prince of Persia games on the consoles and PC, plays on in the background. Unfortunately, there is only a very small tracklist of songs, with the same music being heard often.
Battles of Prince of Persia is a solid strategy title that only falls on a few slight problems. The game can become quickly repetitive and tiring for some gamers, while others will be able to unearth the hidden depth that the game does contain. It can become somewhat addicting to a degree, as you’ll be scratching your head in the later levels trying to figure out a way to defeat the enemy. It’s bland visual flare is likely to drive many gamers away upon witnessing the game, but if you are willing to spend some time learning the game, you’ll likely find yourself wasting away hours of time with Battles of Prince of Persia.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.