Prince Of Persia: The Two Thrones

Prince Of Persia: The Two Thrones

It's hard out there for a prince. Nearly home after his latest adventure, with the ample-bosomed Kaileena on his arm, the Prince of Persia rounds the corner to find his beloved Babylon under siege by invading thugs. Things get worse: Kaileena is captured and killed, the Prince is forced to navigate a treacherous city as a fugitive, and he occasionally transforms into the Dark Prince, giving him badass powers that also rapidly deplete his health.

Fortunately, he's the Jackie Chan of platform-game heroes, an agile, wall-climbing freak of nature who can slip through mechanized death contraptions as swiftly as he can dispatch enemies. In Prince Of Persia: The Two Thrones, the stirring conclusion to the popular adventure trilogy, the Prince's metaphysical struggle adds another dimension to a series that some felt had gone stale.

The unique element to the Prince Of Persia games are the Sands Of Time, which allow you several chances to manipulate time, either by slowing it down to get a bead on attackers, or by reversing it entirely when you've made a mistake. For platform junkies who know the agony of repeatedly leaping into black holes, such do-overs are a godsend, especially near the end of challenging levels. The Dark Prince possesses considerably more power than his wussy other half, thanks mainly to a weapon—the Daggertail—that shreds anything in its path, but he'll also die quickly unless he smites his enemies and/or replenishes his sands. New to the game is another nifty feature called "Speed Kill," which rewards your stealth by letting you sneak up on adversaries and behead them in one incredibly gory move.

Beyond the game: The Two Thrones doles out cutscenes sparingly enough that they actually have some cohesiveness and power. The poor prince has a lot on his mind.

Worth playing for: Games like this rarely work without resorting to violence, but toss away the fighting system, and you can still have fun with the Prince's Fred Astaire-like dexterity in zipping around obstacles.

Frustration sets in when: If you don't get the wonky timing on the Speed Kills exactly right, you're forced into fights where you're so overmatched that it's not even worth the bother.

Final judgment: The nice thing about sequels to successful games is that all the rough edges are buffed out, and The Two Thrones honors its graceful hero with impeccable controls and design.

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