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Some Satire

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So I've been playing with that new prototype Ubisoft have been putting around - you know, Warrior Within? It's their working title for the next Prince of Persia game.

It's pretty sweet. I'm quite impressed at the level of artwork they've managed to throw together in six months - the fact that it's so dark makes me wonder if they pulled it from another game in development. Animations are pretty fluid, with only a few of the disjointed glitches between animations that are expected in something so early in its development cycle. The soundtrack's just something that they threw in there - I'm guessing it's ripped from a CD somebody had lying around the office - and the dialogue is pretty hilarious (classic lines like "I grow tired of this," and "Do you hear my blade? It calls for you." Somebody must have been in a hurry to come up with those). They also seem to have some of the sand creatures talking - with any luck that's just something they've done to show off / test the dialogue system, because when a bunch of ravens fly into a cloud and turn into a guy with a sword who proceeds to tell you that he is tired, you really do feel like you should be throwing the controller at the TV set.

The camera system is something they're really going to need to work on. I think, lessons learnt from the first game, that they stand to really make something that other games can use as a benchmark in terms of camera control; they've got the basics in there already (in that there's a camera which follows the prince around and usually keeps him in shot), but currently the camera stays miles away from the Prince (making it difficult to do some of the precision bits) and doesn't pay any attention to things that matter, like the wall you need to run along or the monster that is currently hitting you. Hopefully somebody's been thinking along similar lines to me in this journal previously, and the final camera system will ensure that the information presented is much more helpful.

There's also a bunch of other things - like the fact that the game-over screen takes bloody ages, or that the dagger of time UI is on the screen when (as far as I can tell) you can't use the dagger - small annoyances that should be fixed by the team as they move this thing through alpha and beta to release. I hope the marketing department steps in to change the title, though - Warrior Within? Please. Who do they think they're selling to, twelve-year-olds? (I'm a little concerned about that, actually - the way some of the characters are portrayed makes me wonder if the problem might not be more endemic than the title itself).

OK, enough satire. Seriously, this thing plays like a fucking prototype. A prototype that Ubi marketing saw, made the team change for a month, and then release. I'm wondering if I should send it back to Ubisoft with a note saying that I want them to finish making the fucking thing before they send it back to me. I do not encourage you to buy this game.

The dark bent to it? Fine by me. The plot concept that some kind of celestial timekeeper's pissed at the Prince for fucking things up in Sands of Time is perfectly credible. (Though thus far I've not been told how we arrived at this point - given that the events of the first game never took place, what happened to the Prince's father? Farah? The attack on the Maharajah's palace?)

But the game feels completely focus-grouped, and the more I play it, the more I reach the conclusion that they don't know who their audience is - that they got a load of 14-year-olds in to play early versions of the game, and asked them in rock music and scanty clothing would make things better. It's a 16+ game. The audience isn't emo teens, it's intelligent 20-somethings. I mean, c'mon, it's a puzzle game at heart.

Edit: I just reached the first bit with the Dahaka chase. What the fuck!? Somebody's been watching too many disreputable japanese films...
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