Review: Prince of Persia – Epilogue DLC

Prince of Persia was one of my favorite games of 2008 (Granted, I am still catching up on 2008). I am well aware of the love/hate thing that people seem to have with the game, and having come into the game with no bias, I ended up loving the game a lot. The biggest complaint I had for the game was the fact that combat did not feel consequential. It was fun to execute and watch long combos, but there was no meaning it in. I could get beat the hell up, and it wouldn’t mean anything. Other than that, the game was a blast for me.

Suffice it to say when Ubisoft announced a DLC for the game, I flamboyantly jumped for joy like Jesse at a John Mayer concert. The new DLC titled “Epilogue” continues the plot from where the cliffhanger ending of the original title left off. Ubisoft has also claimed that they have taken much of the criticism they received for the original game to heart, and have implemented changes within the DLC, including implementing a higher difficulty level. The release of the DLC is a good sign. In a statement made before the release of the game, a Ubisoft rep said they expected it to sell 2.5 million copies of the game, and 1.5 million copies would be disappointing. To date, I don’t think the game has even broken 1 million yet, so I was fearful that they were going to drop the series, especially in these times. The fact that they are still actively supporting the game is a sigh of relief for me.

So did Ubisoft deliver on its promise? Hit the jump to find out.

The difficulty bar has definitely been raised. Platforming, which was my favorite part of the original, has been amped up and the sequences in the DLC are much longer, with much more packed into each sequence. No longer can you start a platforming sequence and just put it on auto-pilot until you hit the next solid ground. These sequences are littered with numerous traps, and timing becomes much more important. I may have found it a bit harder than most people will because I was going for the achievement where you have to kill each soldier with a speed kill (Stab them before they spawn out of their dark portal). This normally requires a perfect run through a platforming sequence from the time the portal opens up, giving no time to “analyze” the sequence before you jump in.

Needs moar traps

Needs moar traps

Combat has also been made more difficult as well, to the point where it can get pretty cheap at times. The core combat mechanics have not changed. It’s the QTEs that have changed. So if you run into no QTEs at all during combat, it’s going to be the same experience as it was in the original. Now, I got pretty good with the PoP QTEs since I played the original game twice. But some of the QTEs in the DLC give you no time at all. I’m talking less than a second to input your QTE button. A lot of times, I just had to put my finger on a button and hope that’s the one that the game chooses to use as the trigger. I can’t tell you how many times I see “A” and I press A soon afterwards, and the A on the screen turns red, which means I either hit the wrong key (which I didn’t), or I ran out of time. I mean it turns red AFTER I hit the correct key. It amazed me how quick the QTEs went by. There were definitely times that I called bullshit because of how little time the game gives you to make your input.

There is a side effect to this. Enter the new boss: The Shapeshifter. So this “new” boss isn’t really new at all, which was disappointing. It is just a boss that can shift between the Warrior and the Hunter from the original game. The Warrior form acts as the “shield” since it cannot be damaged. Once you dispose of the Warrior in the usual way, it shifts to the Hunter, which you fight as you normally would, except you can now bring his life down. Here’s the zinger. If the Hunter “kills” you via QTEs or you take too long to kill him, he’ll shift back to the Warrior, and you have to go through another shield again. This boss, while not original, did do the job of making combat a bit more consequential. Most of the non-fatal QTEs done by the Hunter will lead right into a fatal QTE since you’re on the ground, and with the QTEs being super fast, if you don’t avoid those initial non-fatal QTEs, you might be fighting the Warrior again, and the fight pretty much goes nowhere. Since I was playing the DLC while trying to hit up all the achievements, including the one where you can only die 20 times, it was doubly important for me not to get into any situation where I could be killed because the QTEs were pretty hit or miss for me. So while Ubisoft did make combat a bit more meaningful, I would’ve preferred them to have done it in a more strategic way, and not just by making QTEs rampant as well as hard to execute. The “new” boss was also disappointing since he wasn’t really new, but the idea behind it did lend itself to adding more urgency to the combat. You face the Shapeshifter a couple of times throughout the DLC.

I need to make a special mention about the Green Power Plates here. I guess someone at Ubisoft decided the original was a bit stale (and they were), and decided to put those plates on steroids. In the original, you’re pretty much going straight the whole time, while occassionally going off to the left or right every once in awhile to avoid obstacles. In the DLC, I think you might spend less than 10 seconds TOTAL going straight while using all the Green Power Plates in the Underground Palace. Get ready to wind in and out of shit nonstop, because they pretty much reversed the “open path to obstacle” ratio in the DLC. As with the original game, with the camera the way it is, you’re going to have only a second or two to react to some of the curves and obstacles, which means you have to be paying attention any time you hit a Green Plate.

Ubisoft also advertised a new power for both the Prince and Elika. Elika’s new power(plate) is a purple plate called “Energize.” Ubisoft does more recycling here by making the platforming aspect of the plate the exact same as the red one, which shoots you and Elika into the air to your next platforming item. However, the added aspect of it is that it uses magic to temporarily reconstruct structures that are no longer there. These reconstructed areas act as walls or solid ground in places where there’s normally just open space. Playing with it was fun, but it is pretty much the same as putting a red plate there instead, and having those structures there already. The only minor difference is that the energized areas only appear when you are approaching them, but they appear far enough ahead to where you have a good 2-3 seconds to see what you need to do.

The Prince’s new power is called “Sprint.” Or so IGN says. I’m going to be truthful here and say I have beaten the DLC and do not have any idea how to activate this ability. The bosses will do it to you, as they will sprint at you, prompting a QTE that will determine if they bitch slap you, or you bitch slap them, stunning them for a couple seconds. However, I never figured out how to do it with Prince. I think the reason is because I have Tutorial turned off, and I remember the Tutorial was how the game introduced the player to all the new abilities in the original game. So I’m assuming at some point, I just missed the memo. However, obviously since I beat it, it must’ve not been that important. I would’ve liked to have played around with it, but oh well, I guess during a subsequent playthrough, I’ll have to turn the Tutorial back on. I’m assuming it’s the same thing as when the boss does it, except the player can trigger it and it shows the player sprinting instead of the boss.

I did not do this...  :(

I did not do this... 😦

Overall, the DLC was enjoyable for me. My playtime on it was less than 2 hours (which got me yet another achievement). In real time, it actually took me a bit longer, between all the distractions and pauses. The story portion of the DLC is a small piece of the pie. It definitely leaves you at another cliffhanger, but this one is significantly different from the one in the original. It sets up the sequel in a much different way than the ending to the original game did, which pretty much means Ubisoft had this DLC planned for awhile.

At $10, it’s worth a buy if you liked the platforming in the first game. The combat might get a bit annoying at times, but the platforming is quite a thrill now with the traps being everywhere. More thinking on your toes and timing is required this time around. Upon completion, you are given two additional skins, the prototype Prince and the prototype Elika. I guess these were original designs. The prince’s skin looks fine, but I’m glad they didn’t go with the prototype design for Elika. She reminds me of Storm from the X-Men because of the hair.

Elikas body is tighter than... well, I was going to say tighter than Brucies abs, but there aint nothin tighter than that shit!

Elika's body is tighter than... well, I was going to say tighter than Brucie's abs, but there ain't nothin' tighter than that shit!

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2 Responses to “Review: Prince of Persia – Epilogue DLC”

  1. joshhest Says:

    Josh <3s Brucie! So is PoP short enough to knock out in a rental? I love the idea but if I don’t like I don’t want to be like $50 committed. : (

  2. The original will clock in around 12 hours probably, especially if you don’t go and try to find every light seed. The DLC is 2-3 hours, so definitely something you could knock out in a rental. I personally own the game because I loved it, but there is no tangible reason to replay the game, except to get achievements you might have missed, or to play through with one of the skins (Altair!).

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