Prince of Persia 3: Short Rant

I recently played through this game and wasn’t quite happy about it. I liked the first in the series, Sands of Time, and was put off by the sequel, Warrior Within. Judging from the reaction by some of my fellows at the late NEON Studio and from the most reviews on the third part, Two Thrones, I wasn’t alone with that opinion.

Those reviews also said that Two Thrones is “the sequel that should have been”, which it wasn’t quite for me. The problems lie in the extended fighting system Ubisoft tried to improve in Warrior Within, which in turn was to be fixed in the Two Thrones, because the improvement turned out to suck.

My opinion is that they never should have extended the fighting system in the first place. I don’t know too much about the second part because I didn’t play it, but I do know the developers introduced the “speed kill” feature (like the quicktime events in Shenmue or Resident Evil 4) to avoid fighting. I interpret that as acknowledgement of the crappyness of that fighting system. Since the industry’s current dogma of sequels would not allow for less features, the crappyness had to stay and be covered with new features.

Anyway, my main complain is this: Squeezing the additional fighting animations into the limited memory obviously could only be achieved by compromising the overall animation quality. Two Thrones does not play nearly as smoothly as Sands of Time. Inputs generally lag, the framerate is low, while the action requires the player to be quick and precise.

The result: in striving for better graphics and more actions, the core competence – solving environmental puzzles with unparalleled elegance – had to suffer.

Once again, less would have been more.

Yu-Chung Chen

Yu-Chung Chen is a designer working primarily on video games. He studied at Köln International School of Design and has contributed to a number of published games. Currently he works as a freelance UI designer at Keen Games.

2 responses to “Prince of Persia 3: Short Rant”

  1. Krystian Majewski

    “Since the industry’s current dogma of sequels would not allow for less features, the crappyness had to stay and be covered with new features.”

    I find that observation quite intriguing! It puts quite nicly into words the fallacies of game sequels. Great work!
    It reminds me, in Gran Turismo 3, many people complained that the races were too long. There were many tricks that involved glueing the accelerator button down and letting the PS2 on for a few hours. If your car was fast enough, it would finish the race on its own. As a result, in Gran Tursimo 4, there is the B-Spec mode, in which the A.I. races for you and you just watch. Wouldn’t it be better to make races more entertaining?

    Yet, in case of Gran Turismo, the situation is more difficult since simulation of a wide spectrum of different forms of racing experiences is the foucus there, not just “getting trough” the game. Still, at first sight, the features seems bizzare and ridiculus. I’m preparing a post about that…

  2. Krystian Majewski

    I just thought, the covering up of crappy features with new features is exactly what the Deutsche Bahn is doing. They spent a lot of money to develop new ticket vending machines. They hoped to minimize the number of personal. But the machines are so crappy that nobody understands them. Now they have to hire people help customers to use the crappy machines. Getting rid of the machines or even install better ones is no option becaue they spent so much money on them. So now we have to live with shit.


Game Design Reviews is a Blog used by a group of game designers from Germany to publish and discuss their thoughts on various games. The blog consists entirely of reviews of games. Each review focuses on the important game design ideas and concepts of that particular game. We also run a second, more informal Blog called Game Design Scrapbook.


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