If you want to play Warrior Within, it is very smart to have played the first one that Ubisoft developed for this generation first. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time tells the story of how the Prince’s “warrior” family invaded the enemy Maharaja’s palace in order to steal 2 invaluable artifacts, the Dagger of Time and the Sands of Time. This led the Prince to go on a solo effort of gaining access to both, only to find himself caught in a web of deceit and pain. He meets the Maharaja’s daughter, Farah, along the way, and she tries to prevent what the Prince is about to do from happening. The Prince does retrieve the Dagger, and because of someone’s deceit, he ends up opening the Sands of Time.

This causes an evil to sweep over the land, turning everyone who wasn’t protected by it into sand creatures. This basically included everyone but the Prince, Farah and the man who tricked the Prince.

With having had opened the Sands, the Prince drew himself into a destined fate of his own death. “Who shall ever open the Sands must die, that is what is written into the timeline.”

The Dahaka, a mystical beast and the guardian of the timeline, is after the Prince full force and wants him dead. The Prince defied his fate after first opening the Sands, and it’s the Dahaka’s job that the Prince meet his certain doom. How will the Prince defy his fate this time around? He must go to the Island of Time itself and face the person who created the Sands of Time in the first place, and stop it from ever happening. Only then will he be able to escape his certain fate of death……or will he?

All alone, with no one he can trust, and nothing but his weapons and agility to aid him, the Prince must` do everything in his power to escape what is indeed his certain fate…..

When you start your first adventure, you will view an opening cinematic scene of the Prince himself dressed in a brown cloak running for his life through the narrow streets of what looks like an abandoned village. He is running as fast as he possibly can, and using all of his strength and agility to evade the sea of black evil that is after him. He does encounter a very scary and realistic looking wolf creature, but he runs right past that.

When he eventually gets trapped at a dead end, he slowly turns around and you can see the “gruff” look in his eyes and lower face. You then see the Dahaka speeding closer and closer to him as he pulls out his two in preparation to defend himself.

As soon as you would think the Dahaka takes him out, you see a quick transition to a cinematic of a boat on the sea. Apparently the Prince is the captain of this vessel, and he orders various crew members on what to do against a pretty heavy storm that’s setting around them. Then shortly after, a pursuing vessel attacks his ship and hooks onto it. This is when you meet Shadee, the scantily clad female servant of the Empress of Time. She is pretty much there to kill you and prevent you from ever getting to the Island of Time, and your adventure ensues!

The beginning of this game is definitely great and fun to watch, and very interesting. You get a small tutorial on the game’s newly introduced battle mechanics as well as a glimpse of the Prince’s new “personality.” It does seem a little out of place for him, especially considering how he was in Sands of Time, but when you eventually fight Shadee on her boat, he will soon call her the “b” word. Now that’s one of maybe 3 curse words that I can remember him saying throughout the game, so if you don’t mind that kind of thing, it shouldn’t affect your experience too much.

I liked the beginning of this game, as it excellently sets the tone for the rest of the game, “you’re alone,” and I definitely like how Ubisoft chose to start it!

If you played Sands of Time before this game, you will have a good foundation as to how this game’s gameplay mechanics work out. A lot of the game’s controls apply to this game, especially with the wall running as such. What changes however is the newly implemented combat system, called the Free Form Fighting System (or FFF system) After about the first hour or so of REAL game combat, you should be pretty familiar with all the basic combos that the Prince can utilize with one weapon and two weapons. If you can’t seem to get it from the in-game tutorials, there’s a built-in menu in the game itself that you can read which will tell you every single thing the Prince can do with one weapon or two. The game isn’t terribly difficult to learn, whether or not you’ve played Sands of Time, so a maximum of 2 hours is probably what’s needed, just to take care of any possible newcomers to the PoP franchise!

The graphics in Warrior Within are excellent. Warrior Within features an expansive castle that you visit in both the past and present time periods, so you will see environments that are beautiful from an ancient era’s stand point as well as environments that are completely run down and shoddy in the present time period from years of wear and tear. If you can’t appreciate the work that Ubisoft put into the graphical presentation in this game, then you should be ashamed. Why is that? Well simply put, whatever you see in whatever period really looks very similar to each other. For example, any kind of pillars and traps you might see in the past will still be there in the present time, but they will either be run down and desecrated or downright nonfunctional for obvious reasons.

One great thing you will definitely notice when traveling between the time periods is how the lighting affects each era. In the past, you will see beautiful lighting through openings in the walls that will make everything around you bright and colorful. In the present, however, a lot of the areas won’t be as well lit because most of the openings in the walls won’t be there anymore because of the aging castle. This can definitely pose a challenge in the present area when you are in a very poorly lit area and can’t see very well. This can make it difficult to see certain objects that will aid in your navigation such as ledges, and that’s really intriguing because it adds to the realism of what environments like that could be like today.

Another great detail that one should notice when playing this game is the level of detail in all the environments, as well as the characters you see and meet. As for the characters, you see quite a bit in just the Prince himself. Whether it’s his body wear, his hair, his weaponry to the very amulet that you eventually receive from Farah in Sands of Time, you see it all. The Prince dawns a somewhat “dumbed” down set of leather armor, with the normal straps and openings in the chest wear that exposes some of his skin underneath, and that is very descriptive of the particular time. You will also see the strands in his hair, the color of his eyes and the expressions on his face as he interacts with the few characters that he does indeed interact with. This adds quite a bit of realism to a game that doesn’t feature a lot of character interaction because it helps to push the story along without making it seem forced on you or boring in anyway.

The same can be said about the environments around you. While they might not be as colorful as the ones presented in the Sands of Time, they still look great regardless. The greatest part of your surroundings is you will see various particles falling or coming off of a bunch of things that you encounter. Whether it’s the small metallic sparks from rotating saw blades, to dust coming from pillars, the walls and ceilings or the Sands of Time that lie on the ground after you defeat certain enemies that leave it there for your obtaining. The castle is old, no matter what time period you are in, and the graphical effects accentuate that every time. One of the coolest features of your environment actually, is when you get the chance to slide down a large curtain with your sword dragging through it. Seeing the actual split in the material is very cool!

The final two things that you will definitely notice is the realism of two things, the blood when you decapitate some of your enemies and the water that you drink and walk through. Yes, this game is quite bloody, and that’s one of the many reasons it’s rated M, but it’s definitely impressive how far Ubisoft went to make it look realistic. This includes the water that you see in the game as well. It’s not as much as you might see in Sands of Time, but when you do see it, the effects couldn’t look any more real. The clarity of some of the water, the “mucky” water in certain areas, it all looks so great, and the detail accentuates whatever time periods you’re in.

So overall, while the graphics in this game weren’t as stunning as some of the visuals in Sands of Time, they definitely do their job and offer for some amazing looking environments. The graphical effects are excellent and the level of detail is satisfactory. They are great, with only suffering from a few drab and dull looking areas, but that’s almost to be expected with this game!

It is truly a shame that this game had so much potential in regards to this category because of the more “mature” theme of the game. It was driven by a more “metal/rock” type soundtrack and audio selection and voice acting that really could’ve been done better and should’ve been better.

Now don’t take what was said wrong, the audio and sounds in this game still sounds good, but it is VERY glitchy.

One of the biggest things you might notice in this game is during the multiple events in the game when you are being chased by the Dahaka. During each of these, the song by Godsmack “I Stand Alone” is supposed to play (without the lyrics) to signify “you’re on your own” for the whole sequence of events. However, during practically every single one that you will encounter, about 5-10 seconds into it, the track will COMPLETELY cut off by ITSELF. That’s right, there isn’t one point in this game where you will hear the track during the entire chase that you are involved in. That basically means that during most of the chases, you won’t hear anything in the background, except for the menacing sounds of the Dahaka and the footsteps of the Prince as you are running for your life.

The same can be said about the voice acting too. The voice acting is actually very good, with the little that you actually do hear that isn’t encompassed in battle, but again, there are a few sequences in the game where you will see the subtitles for what is being said, but you won’t hear the dialogue whatsoever!

Then with regards to what is said in battle, yes there are a lot of one-liners that Prince uses for intimidation purposes, and most of them are actually cool sounding. He does tend to overuse some of them yes, but it really shouldn’t annoy you too much. From the experience, the lines you will probably hear the most are ones such as “I grow tired of this!,” “You will pay for these transgressions!,” and “You should feel honored to die by my blade!” You will also hear a lot of yelling, grunts and growls from the Prince if he actually doesn’t say anything, and that definitely helps you understand just how desperate the poor guy is to achieve his ultimate goal.

So with all the voice acting and some of the music, if it wasn’t quite as glitchy and cut-off as it was during some points of the game, it would’ve made a much more immersive experience.

Now as for other various sound effects and audio tracks that you’ll hear. A lot of the game encompasses really great sounding effects that will allow you to feel as if you could hear them right around you, especially if you have the game on in stereo format! You will hear the realistic sound of metal clanging metal as you swordfight your enemies. You will hear the Prince’s footsteps, whether they be on the ground, along a wall, in the water or running up certain structures. Other sounds that accentuate the environment around you are things such as hearing cloth tearing apart as you drag your sword through a curtain and drop to the floor below. You will also hear the slight “squeaking” of the rotary saw blades and blade covered columns when it comes to the traps. All of the sounds in the game are very good, sound like they should, and can really bring you into the experience.

As for the audio tracks that were mentioned previously, they basically come on during the game as you enter a battle with a large group of enemies. They aren’t any kind of specific music tracks, but they are simply metal and rock themes that will allow you to be more entertained as you take out the very people who want you dead!

So overall, the sounds and audio in this game are very good, but because of the game having so many glitches and cut-offs where there just shouldn’t be, it can’t be given a quality score.

If you played Sands of Time, you would probably be able to figure out what was the biggest complaint of people who actually did that felt Ubisoft needed to fix in this game.

Well if you can’t, allow me to tell you. Almost every single person who played Sands of Time didn’t care for the simplistic and monotonous features that encompassed the battle system. You only had one sword at all times, couldn’t really do any fancy combos, and you pretty much had to use the same techniques in every battle inorder to progress.

Well, Ubisoft definitely listened to their fans, and chose to really work hard on the battle engine in this game.

So basically whatever you experienced in Sands of Time in regards to what the Prince could do with his acrobatic skills and fighting prowess was totally revamped and made 100 times better!

The Free Form Fighting System (referred to as FFF) is what Ubisoft came up with, and they sure didn’t disappoint this time around. The Prince can now dawn two weapons at once, a sword and either another mini sword, an axe, a dagger, a mace, a special sword from certain enemies or a smaller version of a scythe. This allows the Prince to have endless possibilities with what he can do with his weapons, as well as with his environment.

There are combos you can perform with one weapon that you can’t do with two and vice versa. How you interact with your enemies and your surrounding environment also has been completely revamped so that you have more freedom with what you can do, and it’s truly amazing just how much you can actually do.

So to make the critique of this section a little more organized and painless, it will be divided into 2 sections for combat, one weapon and your surroundings, and dual weapons and your surroundings.

One Weapon/Your Surroundings: Even with only one weapon, you can do a heck of a lot in battle. Of course it won’t be quite as easy to take out your enemies and/or defend yourself, but you are given more freedom since you have one of your hands available for other uses! With just one weapon, you have plenty of options as your disposal. You can either choose to go the hard way and simply fight, or you can take advantage of your enemies’ stupidity and your surroundings by grabbing a hold of them! That’s right! You can now grab a hold of your enemies with your free hand, taking them hostage, and them torture them to death! Most of the time when you have an enemy in your arms like that, you will most likely want to “steal” the weapon they are holding and kill them in the harshest way possible! 90% of the time you’ll end up simply decapitating your enemy as you steal his or her weapon, and it’s quite cool to see!

If you don’t feel the need or the desire to steal your enemy’s weapon and just want a quick way to get rid of him or her, you can perform a “monkey toss” and simply throw them behind you and into a never ending chasm to their death! It all really depends on how you want to approach fighting in this game. If you want to challenge yourself, you won’t take the easy way out like that all the time, but if you are somewhat impatient and don’t feel like dealing with all the regular fighting that you can do, that is one of your better options.

Now as for your surrounding environment when you have one weapon, you can do a good number of things.

If the environment around you has any kind of narrow poles or columns that you can grab a hold of, you will be able to do just that, swing around them and take out your enemies that way! You can either swing around one with your sword in a helicopter fashion, or your can perform a swinging double kick maneuver with a sword slice at the very end, both work quite nicely!

You also have the same maneuvers that you had in Sands of Time with regards to walls that you can do here. Vaulting off the walls to drive yourself in your enemies, knocking them over, running up a wall and performing an insanely acrobatic maneuver utilizing that, the choice is yours.

Dual Weapons/Dual Danger: This time around, the Prince is able to wield 2 weapons at once. You can either find your secondary object of pain on the various weapons racks you will encounter throughout the game, or you can simply take them from the enemies that you fight, both work fine.

With double the weapons comes double the pain that you can dish out! The combos are virtually endless with what you can do with dual weapons, and it would be tedious and unnecessary to describe every single one. But if you do have dual weapons, anything you can think of, you can pretty much do. The whirlwind/helicopter attacks, focusing on trying to fool your enemies with targeting different areas of his or her body, ANYTHING. It is obvious that dual weapons will give you a much easier time at defeating your enemies, whether it ends up being one hit kills or simply clearing out the area around you to give yourself some breathing room, it’s just so much fun!

Now based on the whole experience, it’s very easy to make the judgment that the best part of using your dual weapons is how you can utilize them when you run up walls. Now you can utilize both single and double weapons when running up walls, but if you do it with duals, you will have a much better chance at taking out your enemies than otherwise.

Basically the best thing you can do when running up a wall is the attack that makes the Prince land on his feet at the end of his fall and doing a 360 attack that can virtually take off the “heads” of every enemy in the vicinity or actually “splitting” them in half! Sure it might be a bit grotesque at times, but hey, whatever works works right?

Another cool thing you can do when you have dual weapons is actually tossing your secondary weapon at an enemy and attempting to use that as an instant death technique, or a distraction so that you can execute the final blow or blows as the enemy writhes in pain! Now whether it’s possible or not to actually miss an enemy isn’t really known because the Prince seems to have perfect accuracy built into him, but that’s not necessary a bad thing! It also is pretty cool to see your weapon stuck in an enemy and being able to retrieve it after you eventually take him or her out!

So to sum up the battle system, it’s extremely fun and immersive, and if you want a game that has a very diversified battle system, this is for you!

Now as for other parts of the game, you will encounter 5 other things, puzzles, boss fights, time traveling, traps and life upgrades! But don’t worry, what is written won’t seem that long, so please don’t be discouraged from reading it!

Puzzles: These were far and few inbetween in Sands of Time, and not really mind bending whatsoever. The same can almost be said about this game, but Warrior Within features a bit more of an expansion when it comes to this. Really there are only a couple minor brainbusters simply because you have to use trail and error to figure them out, but overall, there aren’t too many puzzles in this game, but they serve their purpose, so it doesn’t seem like they were just “put in there.” If you are a gamer that likes hard puzzles, you won’t be satisfied with this game, because Warrior Within focuses more on the combat system than anything else, hence the name Warrior Within!

Boss Fights: Except for the final fight that you encounter, there were absolutely no boss fights in Sands of Time. Sure there were the few fights that meant more than others, but there weren’t any battles that could be considered “bosses.” This game definitely has them, and they make a rather nice addition to the game. However, because there isn’t much variety to them, the more you find yourself in, the less inspired you might become because of them. The main boss you will fight in this game are a bunch of sand creature Iron Golems. They are huge and pack a very big punch, but you pretty much have to use the same techniques every time in order to eliminate them. You hack at their legs until they become weak and fall to their knees, then you climb up on their backs and begin slashing at their head. You do this until you basically drive your sword into his neck and kill him (something the Prince automatically does). The first few times you encounter these golems are pretty cool, but after that, you won’t find much excitement with them.

There are a couple of bosses that aren’t Iron Golems, but they are very rare and don’t really make up for the excitement lost with the other bosses. Plus they tend to be a little bit cheap, and they can prove to be more frustrating than anything else.

Time Travel: Just because the Sands of Time are not technically created yet in this game, they are still very much there time control and travel purposes. In the middle of the Prince’s leather armor you will see a medallion. This medallion is the amulet that the Prince received from Farah at the end of the Sands of Time, and this is how he ends up being able to control time this time around. There’s no Dagger of Time anymore, nothing but this amulet. At the beginning of the game you will only have 3 sand tanks at your disposal, and you find replacement sand in either the “pots” and such that you can break, or from some of the enemies that you kill that might drop it.

But nevertheless, in the game you still maintain the ability to rewind time, slow down time, speed it up etc. However, in order to achieve some of these abilities, you must first pass through the different past and present eras of the castle through the use of the secret sand vortex portals. Pretty much every time you use a new one, you will either receive a new ability for time control, an offensive ability that utilizes the Sands, or simply a new tank that you can fill up for your use.

There is a nice pain about the time traveling though. For you to actually activate each portal, you have to figure out the correct sequence of 4 wall triggers embedded into 4 different columns, and if you mess up on one, you have to start the process all over again. It’s rather tedious and unnecessary, but it gives you something to do at least.

Trademark Traps: Oh yes, just like the very first one on the NES and just like Sands of Time, this game isn’t without its traps. Oh, there are so many it might blow your mind! Whether it’s the floor spikes, the rotating saw blades, the blade covered columns to even sliding swords along the walls, they are most definitely in this game! So you must use the agility and acrobatic maneuvers that the Prince has at his disposal inorder to try avoiding them at all costs. Most of the time you’ll find yourself either rolling underneath something, wall running over something, or sliding along a ledge to avoid something. They are there, and you must be careful at all times, because even the slightest slipup can cost you a sand tank for rewinding time!

Life Upgrades: Hidden in this game are 9 different health upgrades for the desperate Prince, and yes they are HIDDEN! Some are not so impossible to find, and others are very inconspicuous. Many times you will end up having to find and open the beginning of the path to them yourself, which makes it even more challenging. How will you know if you’ve found the path to one? Well, if you find yourself having to avoid a lot more traps than you might normally, chances are you’ve found one. These life upgrades are VERY well protected and it certainly won’t be any easy task for you to get to the end for the upgrade. But when you do, you are rewarded with a cool scene showing the Prince going into a trance and being given a little boost in his overall health! If you can manage to find all 9 (DEFINITELY not easy), then you will trigger the secret ending, the alternate final boss and the hidden sword that will help you defeat it!

Now as for this part of the game being frustrating or glitchy at all, yes there are some moments that you might encounter that make you feel this way. Sometimes the Prince will do the wrong maneuver, such as a horizontal wall run rather than a desired vertical one, and you end up falling to your death because of it. Sometimes you might experience some small frame rate issues depending on which situations you use the time control techniques in, but nothing too major. Really overall, the combat is immersive and a blast, and everything else that you can do is nothing but a compliment to what Ubisoft has given you the ability to do inorder to unlock the Warrior Within!

There are two different endings that you can experience in this game. The one where you don’t collect all 9 life upgrades, don’t get the secret sword, and fight a very CHEAP final boss! If you manage to collect all the upgrades, you will obtain the sword and fight an alternate final boss. Both endings trigger different ending cinematic scenes, and supposedly the secret one is a LOT better. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to view the secret ending yet, so I can’t say much about it, but based on what I’ve heard from other people around here, it really is a lot better and much more enjoyable to watch. But nevertheless, even if you don’t manage to unlock the secret ending the first time around, you are still treated to a pretty nice ending after defeating the final boss. The game is definitely worth playing twice so you can view both endings, and it’s very much suggested that you do so!

Warrior Within most definitely makes up for Sands of Time when it comes to this area. The story is very good, and very much worthy of experiencing again. Not only that, but having the chance of viewing one of two different ending cinematic scenes is all that much more the worth of playing through this game again. Plus, the combat system is just so darn fun that it’s almost too tempting to play it just so you can experience that again! There are a lot of nice things in this game to experience again with the story and combat, and being the Sand Wraith that allows you to have virtually endless sand tanks is also very intriguing! Sure you are almost always at 25% health because that’s one of the side effects the mask of the Sand Wraith brings, but that just adds challenge to this game! A great overall game features great overall replay value!

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, while it may not be without its glitches, is still a very solid game overall. The mature theme brings a new kind of atmosphere to the Prince of Persia franchise, and while it wasn’t well received by everybody, it still makes for a truly great and unique experience. This game is certainly not meant those for a weak stomach or for those younger kids that really shouldn’t see depictions of the extreme violence this game has, but it’s still a great game for just about anybody! The story is a direct sequel to Sands of Time, but where Sands of Time lacked, Warrior Within makes up for it beautifully. If it weren’t for the glitches, this game could’ve almost been one of the best for the GameCube. But nevertheless, it’s still great with incredibly fun gameplay mechanics and good sounds and audio to bring you into each battle and each part of the story. If you want a great action game featuring a darker theme of a man who is desperate to change his fate of death, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within is for you!