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Published on January 27th, 2016 | by Peter Freeman

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Bringing the Prince of Persia Back to the People

Prince of Persia hasn’t seen the light of day for several years. For starters, the last game in the series was in 2010. The game was Forgotten Sands, which was time right around the movie’s release. The game before that was the divisive 2008 Prince of Persia. For those who might not remember, that was the game with the completely new art style and you couldn’t actually die in the game. To say that game’s reception was all over the place would be an understatement. So in terms of “normal” Prince of Persia games, the last one put out by Ubisoft was 2005’s The Two Thrones.

Nowadays there has been very little movement in the franchise. Ever since Assassin’s Creed became popular, it kind of took over Prince of Persia’s slot as Ubisoft’s “historical fiction” franchise. One could say that there was no longer a need for Prince of Persia. After all, not only did Assassin’s Creed ape its setting and style, it also mimicked its gameplay. The combat and parkour from Assassin’s Creed are very similar to the last few Prince of Persia games we got.

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But what made Prince of Persia so unique was how it played with time as a game mechanic. The games were known for letting you rewind time at any point in the game. You had charges so it couldn’t abused, but it was a fun way to mix up the usual third person gameplay. Games in line down the series continued to add on mechanics but the way Prince of Persia played with time was the main reason people were drawn to the game.

It’s been too long since we’ve gotten a fun Prince of Persia game and I believe it’s time that Ubisoft bring the series back in the fold. But since Assassin’s Creed took its place, how does Ubisoft do that? There are several ways that still allow them to keep the core of Prince of Persia and what made it fun.

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First off, I think that taking it into the modern day, or maybe in the 1900’s, would be a smart move. Give it a little dash of urban fantasy and you have something interesting, akin to the mix of realism and magic that movies like The Mummy had. Even if you bring it into the 2000’s, setting it in somewhere like Egypt would make it unique. It’s a region that very few games have explored. Even Assassin’s Creed hasn’t gone there yet (though there are rumors they could be headed there in its next game).

In terms of tone, there’s no need for it to be dark and grim, making it a bit lighter, put some pulp in it. Depending on the game, the Prince was a sarcastic dude. He cracked jokes and had an arrogant streak to him. Have a little fun with it. Setting it away from the time of the original games would give them space to do so much with the setting and aesthetic of the game.  Or maybe even have the game star a Princess of Persia.

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The other thing – and perhaps more important than setting – would be the structure. Most Ubisoft games nowadays are open world. They have a very specific formula that their games follow and it would imperative that Prince of Persia not follow this formula. Open world games are overwhelming to a lot of people. So making it a linear, level based action game would go a long way in differentiating it from the rest of Ubisoft’s line up and widen the gap between it and Assassin’s Creed. Maybe there’s a space for something like a character action game in the vein of Bayonetta or Devil May Cry.

Games like Prince of Persia and to a similar effect Splinter Cell – which I might be writing about soon – can continue to exist in Ubisoft’s ever growing portfolio of open world games. There are still a huge amount of fans of the Prince of Persia franchise, who eagerly await the next entry in the franchise. The fear though, is that the series has gone into the Beyond Good and Evil area of Ubisoft, never to be seen or heard from again. But since Assassin’s Creed is more than likely going on break this year, perhaps this is finally the time to see a new Prince of Persia game?

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