Reviewed: May 2, 2007
Released: April 3, 2007
Nintendoís Wii has seen its share of good and bad games. The popularity of this system is unquestionable though. Even now, nearly five months after launch, it is nearly impossible to find one on store shelves. With only about 5-10 quality, must-have games available, consumers are more dependent on the future of the system than the present state of it. Developers are currently tacking on the controls to ports from other systems and trying to make a quick buck. This usually doesnít translate into good games.
On the graphics end, games like Resident Evil 4 showed that the GameCube was a truly capable machine. We can only assume, at this point, that the Wii is capable of more than the GameCube because no game has truly set the graphical bar for the Wii and proven that it is more powerful than the GameCube...no, not even Zelda.
Even with these downfalls I believe that the Wii is still a great system that given its price-point and appeal could topple Microsoft and Sony in this generation of gaming. The potential is definitely there and once developers start tapping into it there is no stopping this Nintendo Revolution.
With all of that being said, Prince of Persia: Rival Swords for the Wii is another example of tacking on controls to a port of an existing title. It just happens to be an almost direct port of Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, which released on PS2, Xbox, and GameCube over a year ago. Usually these ports donít hold up very well, but Prince of Persia: Rival Swords is one of the few that still offers a fun experience that isnít frustrating to play, even with the new control scheme.
Let me just start by saying that Prince of Persia: Rival Swords is not an original title. It may have a new name but the content is the same as The Two Thrones with a few slight changes. For you who have not played The Two Thrones hereís how it starts. The Prince is coming back from his long voyage to Babylon to his hometown, which, as he discovers, is in ruins and under attack. Before he can act, his ship is attacked, and his passenger, Kaileena, is captured by the attacking army. The story unravels from there as you progress through the streets and buildings of the Princeís city. Nothing has been changed from The Two Thrones as far as the story is concerned so donít expect any new twists.
Rival Swords, just like all Prince of Persia games offers some of the best platforming around, and the Wii version is no different. Unlike many Wii games on the market, the controls for Rival Swords actually feel fluid. At times you will forget all about the motion sensing controls. Not that this game doesnít have them but, they just feel like they belong for once.
You use the analog stick on the nunchuk to move around. You swipe the nunchuk to swing the weapon in your left hand and remote for the weapon in your right hand. Each swipe registers very nicely, and you actually feel like you are swinging a sword. The A button is for jumping and the 1 button zooms out to show you the entire area. You can either tilt the remote or use the D-pad to move the camera and from personal experience, use the D-pad. Itís much more efficient than using the tilt function. The B button allows you to run along walls, and the C button is the time control button.
All-in-all the controls are quite easy and youíll learn them quickly so donít get discouraged when you hear that this game features over 50 different move combinations because you wonít have to learn them all. For most of the game you will just slash back and forth with the nunchuk and remote. Of course, if you want to challenge yourself and learn all of the moves then you can. The combinations can be found in the large, fully illustrated instruction manual included with the game. Good luck!
After you have mastered the controls youíll discover that this game, even at the easiest setting is difficult. Prince of Persia games have always had a history of being challenging and the new controls donít change that. If you get frustrated and give up easily then you shouldnít play any of the games in this series since the platforming elements can make these titles quite difficult. At the same time, if you enjoy a solid challenge, Rival Swords is just that. I found the acrobatic and combat challenges to give a greater sense of accomplishment when completed due to the level of difficulty. Sure I didnít make it through the game on one life, but that is to be expected with this type of game.
Unfortunately, the only gameplay element that has changed is the controls. Donít expect any bonus mini-games (like the PSP version) or extra video footage. This is the same game that was released over a year ago so donít expect any extras thrown in. Sorry to disappoint anyone.
When you do a port from a last-generation console to a next-generation console it should probably look better. The Two Thrones looked great on the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube but, it looks exactly identical on the Wii. Ubisoft had over a year to improve the graphics for the Wii version and didnít. It looks exactly the same.
Even the Wii component cables donít improve the visuals very much. Playing this game in 480p on the Wii is like playing it in 480p on the original Xbox. The environments still look good but the character models are bad. Iím not going to be like some people and try to compare the visuals to that of the Xbox 360 or PS3 because by this point everyone should know that Nintendo is focusing on gameplay over graphical power, but come on, this is the next-gen.
The only other change in the game other than controls is the blood. There is none. They have completely replaced the blood with sand. When you swipe at someone you see sand come out, not blood. This is understandable though. Ubisoft most likely replaced the blood with sand to get the rating down to Teen instead of the Mature rating that The Two Thrones received.
The music in Rival Swords is that of The Two Thrones. What a surprise! There is absolutely nothing wrong with the music so I have no complaints about using the same tunes over again. The Arabic-themed music fits right into the game and pulls you into the experience of being the Prince.
The voice-overs are also the same, but again they were so good in the original that I canít really say much. The actors come across very dramatic without being overdone or cheesy. The perfect mix of music and voice acting adds to an already great core.
Although the game is great and the controls are some of the most fluid the Wii has to offer, it is still a port. You can go out and buy the GameCube version for less than $20 and play it on your Wii. Sure you wonít get the new controls, but you will get blood.
The Wii version is $50 dollars and doesnít really offer anything new beyond the controls. I personally had a blast with the new control scheme and got pulled right into the game despite the disappointing graphics. It just depends on if the new controls are really worth $30 more to you, or if you are perfectly content with playing with a basic controller and saving some money. For me, the new controls are worth the extra dough.
Prince of Persia: Rival Swords is one of the first games that actually utilize the Wii controls in a fun and intuitive way. Most games just tack them on, making them feel out of place, while Ubisoft spent some time with it, figured out what worked and what didnít. Unfortunately they didnít do anything else to improve the game like graphics. It is becoming too easy for developers and publishers to just add minor things to games and then port them to other systems, especially the Wii.