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Prince of Persia 3

Third time's a charm for the platforming Prince. We just wish he'd bloody cheer up a bit though

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Subterfuge seems to play an important part in proceedings this time around, if the rooftop level we saw is anything to go by. Instead of enemies appearing once you've successfully completed an extensive acrobatic puzzle, as in the Sands of Time, opponents are liberally dotted around the environments, meaning you won't get much more than a jaunty leap and a flashy wall-run in before you encounter another bunch of ruffians. Unlike enemies from previous games though, many of your new opponents are simply too powerful to engage in a battle of brawn - you'll either die a horrible and messy death or end up chipping down their armour for a very long time. You'll need to employ plenty of sneakery in conjunction with your Speed Kills in order to make progress.

Sweet chariot?
So that's old and new fans taken care of, so that just leaves one group to sort out. Yup, that's right - racing fans! Hm, yes. Somewhat inexplicably, Ubisoft has seen fit to shoehorn chariot racing elements into the existing gameplay mechanics. Apparently at the behest of fans, you'll now be able to hop into a glorified wagon and go all Ben Hur on your opponents. From what we've seen, these sections certainly look impressive, from a cinematic perspective, but seem a little too simplistic in their scope. You'll race along some curiously linear-looking tracks, attempting to bludgeon enemies who're hell-bent on your destruction while you steer through the streets. It's hard to tell how these sequences will play out at the moment, but their inclusion is certainly a little worrying for fans already disappointed by the series' brisk change of direction - particularly as Ubisoft are promising they'll play an important part in the new game.

While we're largely optimistic that Ubisoft Montreal can combine all these disparate elements successfully, adding significant depth to what is already an impressive and atmospheric series, we do still have a couple of significant concerns. Firstly, with every iteration, Prince of Persia seems to be moving further and further away from it's initial acrobatic puzzle focus and, from what we've seen so far of the new game, nothing seems to suggest a reverse in the trend. Secondly, as impressive as the chariot racing sections look, their inclusion still seems a bit arbitrary and we're worried that they'll merely end up diluting the franchise's core gameplay elements even further.

Still, with a release set for Christmas this year on PS2, Xbox, GC and PC, we don't have too long to wait before all is revealed.

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