Saturday, April 25, 2009

µReview: Prince of Persia [-Combat]

The combat is a negative point for me, but not for a lack of trying. I think with a little more play testing and some adjustment the cinematic quality could have been preserved without the unnecessary punishment for not being psychic.

I applaud the combat for using the same button contexts as the movement in the game. Jump becomes acrobatics and dodge. Grip/Glove becomes grab and toss. Magic still equates to Elika (whom you now toss at enemies for damaging effect).

The difficulty keeps the gentle slope of the rest of the game. As you progress, the game adds additional "forms" that the enemies can take. These forms are not intermittent and random. They only serve as a reason to switch up the attack type you lead with.

The combat is really all about cinematic combos. There's that word again: cinematic. There really is no other word for it. You can start with basic sword moves, progress to magic, then add an acrobatic fair or a toss, and finish with a big strike.

Except that there is no real indication of flow to it. Too often I found myself stalling out of a combo because of missed timing or wrong follow-up selections. I wound up just button mashing to try and start a combo, often deflected at every slash. Some indication of rhythm would have made this a lot easier to follow, especially when time slows down and speeds up for dramatic effect.

And then there are the QTEs. The only time, in an entire game of glorified QTEs, they make themselves a nuisance is during combat. Often they had too little warning or lagged as the animation for them started. Failing them usually resulted in the enemy recovering most of its health. Even succeeding only served to recover you, not do any damage or provide much advantage.

Combat was designed, very obviously, with the intent to make it feel large than life. The moves are over-the-top impressive, and the camera does everything it can to accentuate the action. However, the flow is constantly broken by the sheer frustration of trying to intuit the right timing and button presses to make it happen. Fortunately, if you get good at the movement game, you can pre-empt all of the non-essential battles.

No comments:

Post a Comment