(as in the new one)
Annoying duplicate title aside, it's seriously one of the best games of last autumn.
The graphics, I'll start with, because they're the first big change. Maybe it's just that I haven't played a PoP game since Sands of Time, but the graphics are absolutely stunning. They're cell-shaded, similar to Okami, if you've played it, and the art direction is simply beautiful. As you swing across chasms, shoot up walls, jump between poles, all around you is a beautifully designed world. And after you complete each level (24 of them, you're probably looking at around 20-30 minutes per level before 'light seed' collecting, perhaps), as it is cleansed of the evil 'Corruption' that is plaguing the land, the world is bathed in light and colour, and makes for some spectacular vistas and views of trees fluttering, grass swaying, rivers trickling far below, etc, etc. The draw distance is suitably impressive, and the bosses interesting enough. It uses the same engine as Assassin's Creed, so if you've ever gone up to the top of one of the highest spires in the cities in AC, you'll know what the engine's capable of.
And the acrobatics and platforming have changed too, now they're quite similar to Assassin's Creed's very stylised, simplistic controls. The platforming just ends up pretty easy to do, but whatever. I still enjoyed it, though it's no-where near as much of a challenge as any of the PoPs before it. There were, to my knowledge, barely if any sections where I needed split second timing, optimal positioning, perfect reflexes, etc.
The combat is... interesting. Well, it's better than Assassin's Creed's wank one-button-combat, you have a button for sword, for grabs, for aerial moves, and for your partner Elika's magic, and you can chain these into suitably long, impressively varied, and always amazingly animated combos. Also, there are a lot of quicktime events in the combat, a lot, and one had me tapping X so hard I had to plug in my guitar hero controller so I could tap the blue fret, and still once or twice had difficulty, but the way the combo system works out is presented almost feels like an elongated choose-your-own-path quicktime event anyway, so the quicktime events just seem like an extension of that. The enemies and arenas (pretty much always flat circular platforms with ring-out opportunities round the whole thing) are a bit lacking though.
Elika is your new partner in crime, the princess of this destroyed land, and also handily not too shabby with the old magic. She and the Prince have, dare I say it, an actual relationship, and their interactions (which you can skip pretty much entirely, if you so desire, or you can prod and probe about both of their pasts) feel genuinely human, a rare feat for a video game. Her gently mocking when he mentions chasing after girls in his previous years, his cynical outlook, all seem possible, and this was one of the high points of the game (until the end, finish the game yourself and you'll see what I mean).
However, with Elika comes a new facet of the game; it's impossible to die.
Fall off a ledge? Elika will swoop in with her magic and whisk you back to the last time you were stood on solid ground.
Get knocked down by an enemy? Elika will swoop in with her magic, shield you, and the enemy will gain a chunk of their health back.
This means you'll never find yourself replaying much more than 20 seconds of platforming, or maybe a minute of fighting.......... I'm not sure whether I like it or not. I definitely like it in the platforming, it's jut like quicksave but it does it automatically... in the fighting, maybe not. It cheapens death. But whatever.
So no, the game's not perfect. But with collecting 'light seeds', the game's generic collectible thing (1000 to collect, but the map screen tells you how many you have left to get in each level, and none are RIDICULOUSLY hard to find, so not too bad), the amazing graphics, the sit-back-and-bask action where you just hit some buttons at the right time and everything turns out spectacularly, I'd without a doubt recommend this game.
At least as a rent. Maybe it won't have much lasting value once I've got all the achievements, but I'm definitely going to play through it a second time.
Yes, maybe the ending is a bit wank. Yes, maybe it is a bit forgiving. But it's the best £20 I've spent in a long time.