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Prince of Persia

Preview: The Prince gets a sexy new sidekick

Prince of Persia has come a long way from Jordan Mechner's 1989 smoothly-animated platformer which usually ended up with the poor Arabian adventurer impaled on spikes.

After the successful Sands of Time trilogy put the magic back in the Prince's carpet a few years back, Ubisoft is again reinventing POP with a brand new graphics style, setting, enemies and a fresh hero - and this time, he has a sidekick. Again.

The new Prince of Persia begins with an ancient tale of two warring gods, one of whom - Ahriman - goes on an evil bender, spreading nastiness throughout the world in the form of a gloopy black substance called the Corruption.

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The bad god's brother Ormazd manages to defeat Ahriman's goons, the Corrupted, and also imprisons his evil sibling in a sapling called the Tree of Life.

Ormazd then entrusts the care of this woody prison to a race of people called the Ahuras, and for thousands of years the world sleeps safe in its giant space bed, until Ahriman begins to plan his escape.

"I don't think we necessarily reached the limit of what we could do with the previous games' storyline, but that plot seemed like a whole - it was about the Sands of Time, where they came from and how they were destroyed," says creative director, Jean-Christophe Guyot.

"Prince of Persia is a universe with many branches inspired by Arabian Nights, and in that you have lots of different tales.

We felt this was a good opportunity to start over and have a new story arc and new characters."

Node Future

The new Prince is a wanderer, dressed in ragged clothing, torn from years of battles, but the luxurious material wrapped around his neck hints at a more regal past.

Ubisoft Montreal are creating a beautiful mythical Persia for the hero to explore, built from the Assassin's Creed engine - but does this mean the game is turning its back on previous Prince of Persia titles to become a more open-world gaming experience?

"I think we have to be careful how we qualify the world - it's open-ended, but it's not a sandbox or free-roaming game," asserts Guyot.

"The previous POP games were very linear in their structure, so we're trying to change that a little bit and give some freedom to the player.

But our structure is more like a network, so you have nodes you can reach and in-between the nodes are lines of gameplay that connect them.

You have a choice of going to whatever node you want, but we're deliberately keeping the rhythm and pacing of the previous POPs."

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As the Corruption begins to swamp the world when Ahriman is unleashed, parts of the game will be off-limits, while others will be changed and invaded by the terrifying minions of the bad god - which is somewhat reminiscent of the structure in Nintendo's Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

"At the beginning the world is open, so you start with every node you want," continues Guyot.

"However, the Corruption and the various traps that the Prince has to overcome, are things that enable us to dynamically manage your journey through the game and make Ahriman react to your progress, so the world will evolve as you move on."

Woman trouble

As well as a new set of acrobatic moves that will help the Prince negotiate the large environments and city streets,
a lethal-looking metal gauntlet has been clamped to his left hand that can be used to slide down sheer cliffs and walls to access hard-to-reach areas.

"The gauntlet adds a different dimension to the gameplay. We wanted a more acrobatic style, so this makes it a bit more credible, as it explains his ability to do some of the moves such as the wall-runs," continues Guyot.

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