The Let's Play Archive

Prince of Persia (2008)

by nine-gear crow, Artix, Blind Sally, CJacobs, Fedule

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Original Thread: Game Over: Return of Crow - Let's Play Prince of Persia 2008: Epilogue

If you liked this LP, you might also like Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire by Blind Sally, nine-gear crow, Armored Core by ArclightBorealis and Final Fantasy XIII by Artix, Fedule

Introduction

Let’s Play Alan Wake's Shadows of the Falsebound Off-World Dinosaur Hunter Prince of Dead Space's Dragoon Resident Resistance Passage of Country Souls Radiance Sweeper Emblem Horizon Zone Sessions Trigger SpecOps Chronicles XIII-2: Evil International Edition Mystic Quest's Last Reward NP, starring Max Payne returns in: Off the Record - The Shattered Belkan War: Legacy
I Hate You (A Love Story) - Let’s Play Prince of Persia [2008]
Let’s Play Princess of Persia: The Ancillary Prince
Artix Returns: Let's Play Prince of Persia MMVIII
Game Over: Return of Crow - Let's Play Prince of Persia 2008: Epilogue




Or...


...Wait what?

Prince of Persia, also known as “Prince of Persia 2008”, is an action adventure / platforming / free running game released for the PlayStation3, Xbox 360, and PC in… wait for it… 2008. It was Ubisoft’s attempt to retool the PoP franchise for the new console generation and begin a new storyline after the conclusion of the wildly successful Sands of Time trilogy on the PlayStation2, Xbox, and Gamecube in the early 00’s. And I’m talking a ground-up reboot; new story, new setting, new characters, new gameplay, new art style, new gimmick, and most divisive of all, new “Prince”.






The game itself is looked down upon these days as a failure and a misstep for the franchise as a whole, somewhat unfairly in my opinion, as it was quite well received by critics at the time, and sold roughly 2.2 million copies within its first year of release according to Ubisoft. Though Ubisoft itself is a big reason as to why it’s looked down upon so much… Because it’s fucking Ubisoft, come on now.

Following PoP 2008’s “failure” (imagined or otherwise), Ubisoft scrambled like mad to bring back “PoP Classic”, and released Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands in 2010 starring the Prince from the Sands of Time trilogy as a midquel wedged between Sands of Time and Warrior Within. At the same time, Disney released the Prince of Persia movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and a bunch of other white people pretending to be Middle Eastern characters based on Sands of Time continuity rather than the 2008 one.

The message was pretty clear at that point. The 2008 franchise was dead, and Ubisoft was just praying you didn’t notice. …Though after the one-two punch of Forgotten Sands and the Sands of Time movie just merely being “okay”, the PoP franchise was more or less dead anyway.

Though what really happened was Assassin’s Creed started making money hand over fist for them, so they latched on to that teat and never let go.

But don’t get me wrong here, this game is not a maligned and forgotten masterpiece, there’s a lot of stuff wrong with it that you’ll be seeing over the course of the LP, but despite its flaws it’s still a pretty fun game overall. Compared to games today that are being released in unplayably broken states, like Ubisoft’s own Assassin’s Creed Unity, it’s actually a model of flawless game design.

With that said:

Update Schedule
I’m shooting to get one video out per week. Probably on either Monday or Tuesday evening, as we generally record commentary for each video on Sunday nights.

ORDER IS A LIE, CHAOS REIGNS SUPREME!

Video Content
I’m going to do one stage per update. There’s 20 stages total, plus four boss stages, and the intro and two finale segments, and then five stages for the Epilogue DLC and one Bonus Video for a total of 33 updates. Each stage takes about ten minutes to clear including “plot” segments… if you can really call them that. The final five minutes of each video will be just heavily edited running around and vacuuming up all collectables you can get to at that time.

Epilogue throws this all out the window because there is no backtracking and no Light Seed gathering and the stages are slightly inconsistent with regard to their length so all bets are off on that one, baby!

COMMENTARY TEAM

Some Jackass | Blind Sally | Artix | CJacobs | Fedule

Why the fuck is everything out of order?
PoP 2008 is a very backtrack-heavy, non-linear game. So rather than jump all over the map with no rhyme or reason to unlock certain things, I’m structuring my updates so that it looks like I’m clearing out each of the four areas of the game in an unbroken sequential order and leaving most of the backtracking on the cutting room floor.

You’ll be able to ferret out my actual path through the game by keeping an eye on the Light Seed counter and what powers/areas I’ve unlocked on the map screen, as certain things I do early in the game won’t be seen until later in the LP.

Why does Artix take over the LP halfway through it?
Because I lost interest in doing it, truth be told. That said, the game falls back under my control for the Epilogue DLC.

Spoiler Policy
Don’t want none of that business, no siree. There’s not that much to spoil in the game anyway, as things are fairly straightforward and predictable for the most part, expect for a few key elements, most of which come up in random order anyway thanks to the game’s non-linear nature.

That said, however, I have one iron-clad stipulation:



When we get there, by all means, have at it. But until that point, just don’t. I want to make sure those who haven’t played the game get to feel the full frontal impact of it when it hits.

Because I’m a sadist.




















And now here’s a very brief history of the Prince of Persia franchise that treats you like you know absolutely nothing about it beyond the fact that it involves a prince and is probably set in Persia, but who really knows about that last part.

If nothing else, this will help you contextualize where the fuck 2008 fits into with the rest of the PoP franchise and why it’s such an odd duck title.



So as you can see by the above image, the Prince of Persia series has had quite a few games in it over the years since it’s 1989 debut on the Apple II PC. And even then, that's not really everything PoP-related you could possibly include in there like the deluge of Prince of Persia 1 ports, Prince of Persia: Harem Adventures, Prince of Persia: Revelations (the PSP port of Warrior Within with additional exclusive content), the HD re-release bundle of The Sands of Time, Warrior Within, and The Two Thrones for the PS3, and the Nintendo Wii version of The Forgotten Sands, which is literally a completely different game from the PS3, 360, PC, DS, and PSP versions of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. Because the Wii was really fucking weird

The franchise has bounced through several developers in its time, but the big three in its history are Brøderbund, who developed the original ’89 PoP, former Brøderbund sub-studio Red Orb Entertainment (they of Myst and assorted sequels fame), and Ubisoft, who’ve helmed every PoP game since 2003’s The Sands of Time.

The series is divided into three separate continuities, the “Original Trilogy,” which consisted of the first three published PC games; the Sands of Time series, which was initially a trilogy, but had a few more games shoehorned in after the fact; and the so-called 2008 series—though can you really call two games, one of which isn’t even considered canon inside its own continuity, a series?

After the incredibly buggy and unpopular Prince of Persia 3D bombed on the PC market, the OG Prince of Persia series was axed and the series’ publisher, The Learning Company, sold the rights to Ubisoft, who then made The Sands of Time and started off what gamers know now as the “modern” PoP franchise.

Then PoP 2008 happened.

Then Ubisoft tried its damndest to forget it happened.

Then the Walt Disney Company made The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time motion picture, and there hasn’t been so much as a peep out of Ubisoft about a new PoP game in five years now.

In 2012, development materials for a game codenamed “Osiris” leaked online, and briefly led to speculation that Osiris was a new Prince of Persia game, or at the very least a PoP-inspired game like Assassin’s Creed, only this time set in ancient Egypt.

But then it was cancelled. Because Ubisoft is a clearinghouse of terrible game design and business practice ideas.



And then there’s this…

Also released in 2008 shortly after PoP 2008 itself, Prince of Persia: The Fallen King was Ubisoft’s idea of the kind of sequel PoP 2008 truly deserved: a Nintendo DS platformer that’s not even considered “canon” in 2008’s storyline.

Set after the events of the Epilogue DLC, The Fallen King continues (for lack of a better term) the storyline started by PoP 2008, as the Prince swaps out Elika as a companion for Zal, the titular “Fallen King” to do… mostly the same shit he did in PoP 2008, only in two dimensions now rather than three.

All told, it’s a not even a blip on the radar in the Prince of Persia franchise, and it committed the same grievous sin in Ubisoft’s eyes that 2008, Forgotten Sands, and the movie did… it was just “okay.”

It has no bearing on the plot or gameplay of 2008, I’m just mentioning it for posterity’s sake because it’s just there.

Thus concludes our brief history of Prince of Persia.

If you would like to check out other Prince of Persia LPs (please don't, only love MY Prince of Persia LP, no one else's ), then you're in luck, as pretty much the entire rest of the PoP franchise (minus Forgotten Sands) is on the LP Archive:




"THE PRINCE"

Here is our protagonist, “The Prince”. After playing through this game about 2 and a half times now, I’m fairly certain that this individual is not, in fact, a prince. He actually doesn’t have a name, and is very evasive about who he really is under that goofy scarf. Though I can see why he’s called “The Prince,” because I’m guessing Ubisoft thought that calling the game



just wouldn’t push the plastic as well as the original title did.

The not-really-a-Prince is a tomb raiding thief who allegedly was shepparding his pack donkey named Farah home when he lost her in a sandstorm and found his way into this whole plot with Elika and Ahriman, and all the various baddies who now want to murder him and destroy the world, though not necessarily in that order.

He straddles the line between loveable self-aware lug, and dumbass goony fuck. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one’s the more fitting description.

Voiced by: NOLAN NORTH


ELIKA

Elika is our female lead for the game. She is Princess of the Ahura (pronounced Ooo-rah, like the Marine chant), and daughter of the Mourning King. She possesses strange and growing magical powers, which she believes have been granted to her by Ormazd, the God of Light. And she has sought to use these powers to defend the land from Ormazd’s evil counterpart, Ahriman, the God of Darkness.

Then the Prince shows up and fucks that all up, so now they’re stuck with one another trying to fix whatever the hell the Mourning King did that let Ahriman out of his prison in the Temple of Light. Elika has lead a very sheltered life in a dwindling kingdom, but isn’t afraid to venture out into the world and take charge of matters personally… now more than ever since she’s the only one left who isn’t a jagoff voiced by Nolan North.

This also marks the second straight game I’ve LP’d where Kari Wahlgren voices a princess character with ZERO actual romantic interest in her male lead counterpart. It’s like poetry, it rhymes.

The other big key fact about Elika is that [SPOILERS!] she's actually dead. Yes, before the events of the game, Elika suffered an unfortunate fall and died, but was revived by Ormazd for the sole purpose of using her life energy to recharge the seal keeping Ahriman trapped in the Temple of Light. When the Mourning King found out about it, he decided to quickly put a stop to that by going to the temple and destroying the seal himself so that Elika wouldn't have anything to sacrifice herself for and thus would get to continue living... in Ahriman's corrupted hell world, but details, details.

Voiced by: Kari Wahlgren


FARAH
/
The Prince's erstwhile pack donkey (pictured left). Alleged to be laden with a large quantity of gold which the Prince had come into by... specific means. She was lost in the great sandstorm that swept over the desert shortly before the Prince happened upon Elika and her father and found himself embroiled in this whole insane plot of trying to save the world or whatever.

We never actually see the donkey in-game, so who knows if the Prince is even telling the truth about her or her alleged payload. As we point out in the video, she is named after Princess Farah (pictured right), the warrior princess who fills a similar role of Elika in the plots of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and The Two Thrones, and is the only passing reference to the Sands of Time trilogy in the 2008 game.

UPDATE: According to Gimbal lock, one of PoP 2008's developers, the donkey was in fact going to appear in-game at one point or another. There was also a scrapped plan for a New Game+ mode that would have seen Farah (the donkey, not the princess) replacing Elika in-game while still possessing all of Elika's magical abilities and using Elika's animation rigging. (Ubisoft had a mesh and model cooked up for the donkey, but apparently couldn't get it to work properly... as a donkey, at least.) The conceit being that The Prince is actually hallucinating after that rock falls on his head in the intro.

Also this:

Gimbal lock posted:


[ARTIST'S IMPRESSION]

While The Prince would act out the events of the game as normal, Farah would remain silent, so The Prince would be talking to himself, basically. I think we can all agree, the world is a dimmer place at the loss of Prince of Persia 2008's Magical Donkey Princess New Game+.

That said, as shown off in the Bonus Video, you can unlock a special skin for Elika that resembled Sands of Time Farah that you can toggle on and off at any time from the start menu. So you can play the game as one gigantic sight gag with the Prince looking for and constantly talking about Farah... to Farah.


THE MOURNING KING

You’re gonna notice a trend in this game, in that only Elika and the two warring deities get proper names. Everyone else merely gets a title. And even then, nowhere in the game itself is this guy ever referred to as “The Mourning King,” only in supplemental materials.

The Mourning King is—or rather, was—the king of the Ahura, the order tasked by Ormazd with keeping Ahriman imprisoned in the Temple of Light, lest all the bad shit seen in the intro happen. Suffice to say, after letting him out himself, the Mourning King is REALLY bad at this job. …But he has a reason for that, which we will get to in due time.

He’s referred to as the Mourning King because he never got over the death of wife some years prior to the start of the game. He succumbed to grief and regret and never took off his funeral garb, hence why he’s wearing a black robe when we meet him. As he gave himself more and more over to his sorrow, his rule over the already faltering Ahura collapsed completely, until things finally reached a breaking point—he turned to Ahriman, the devil he swore to defend the world against, to help end his suffering.

And then we went and beat the shit out of him...

Blind Sally joked that he has two alternate forms: the Afternoon King and the Evening King—please hit him.

Voiced by: Fred Tatasciore


AHRIMAN

The big bad God of Darkness himself. Ahriman is our Big Bad for this game. His presence in the world is what has turned everything to shit, and now we’ve got to go fix it before he finds a way to break out of his prison completely.

Ahriman is the brother of Ormazd, the God of Light, and has sworn to destroy everything Ormazd holds dear and wishes to protect: namely the Earth and all the people living on it.

Ahriman is a huge dick.

While our direct encounters with Ahriman will be few and fleeting in the game, he makes his presence known repeatedly through visions which The Prince and Elika seem to share, and through his minions: his 1000 soldiers of darkness, and his four generals, known collectively as The Corrupted.

Voiced by: Kwasi Songui & Catherine Kidd


ORMAZD


Sir Not Appearing In This Game.

The God of Light, brother of Ahriman, and our erstwhile Big Good of the game. With Ahriman imprisoned in the Temple of Light, Ormazd just kind of buggered off some thousand years ago and left the world to its own devices, leaving the Ahura behind to act in his stead. And that just worked out spectacularly now, didn’t it?

Elika believes that her visions and growing powers are a sign that Ormadz may be returning to protect the world he once abandoned now that Ahriman threatens it again, or at the very least is making it possible for it to be defended once more. The Prince, however, doesn’t share Elika’s faith in the God of Deadbeat Parenting.

Ahriman might be a dick, but Ormazd is kind of a tool.

FLASH FACT: Both Ormazd and Ahriman are actual deities in the Zoroastrian faith, where they're better known as Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu, respectively.


THE CORRUPUTED


Ahriman’s chosen generals. Collectively, they are known as “The Corrupted,” individually, they are The Hunter, The Alchemist, The Concubine, and The Warrior. Each one was once a mortal human, but sold their bodies and souls to Ahriman in exchange for power. Though they maintain touches of their humanity and individuality, they now serve Ahriman’s will with undying loyalty, and command his 1,000 soldiers of darkness.

Each of The Corrupted has claimed control over a specific area of the Ahura Kingdom now that they’ve been released from their prison in the Temple of Light along with Ahriman. The Hunter rules The Ruined Citadel, The Alchemist rules The Vale, The Concubine rules The Royal Palace, while The Warrior rules The City of Light.

The Epilogue DLC introduces us to a fifth Corrupted, but that's all spoilers for now.

tl;dr: These are our boss characters for the game.


THE HUNTER


The first of Ahriman’s four Corrupted, and the one we’ll be dealing with for the foreseeable future.

According to Elika, The Hunter was once an Ahura Prince that lived for the thrill of the hunt. But as he became more and more skilled at hunting, the thrill diminished, and he grew bored with the one thing in life he truly loved. He was also a vain and cruel man, so he went to Ahriman and offered an exchange; he would pledge his soul and service to Ahriman, if he gave him the power to hunt the deadliest animal of all: MAN.

He then became the being known as The Hunter, a monster who hunted, killed, and tortured hundreds, maybe thousands, in Ahriman’s name. He was eventually defeated by the Ahura and imprisoned alongside Ahriman, and his name was stricken from the histories of the Ahura.

Voiced by: Sebastien Croteau


THE ALCHEMIST


The Alchemist was once a venerated scholar, one of the Ahura's brightest minds. Much of the machinery seen in the Vale itself was of his design. However, while he was a wise and inventive man, he was also a fearful one, and he feared his own death above all else. The thought of his work outliving him sickened him, and he began to search for a means of attaining immortality, but as his search progressed, his morality slipped further and further away. As he neared the end of his life and grew old and frail, he struck a deal with Ahriman out of desperation and madness: eternal life for loyal service to the dark god.

The man who made the Ahura's machines was reborn as the monster known as The Alchemist, a being with telekinetic powers and the ability to bend raw Corruption to his whims. Under Ahriman's influence, he enslaved scholars, scientists, and builders of the Vale and twisted his own machines into devices of evil, used to torture others or feed Ahriman's war machine. Though he still feared his own demise above all else, he cared little for the lives of those around him, sacrificing hundreds or thousands in the name of both mastering the Corruption and understanding the secrets of death itself.

When the Ahura defeated Ahriman, The Alchemist was imprisoned in the Temple of Light alongside the other Corrupted, though his machinery in the Vale remained intact, becoming a "necessary evil" of Ahura civilization; repurposed for peaceful uses, but never to be free of the Alchemist's taint. First one to make a "huur, taint!" joke gets insta-DQ'd from the Death Counter contest.

Voiced by: Paul Mercier


THE CONCUBINE


The third of Ahriman’s Corrupted generals and ruler of the Royal Palace.

In her mortal life, The Concubine was, well… a concubine. Big surprise, I know. As a courtesan, she played consort to a number of interchangeable Ahura nobles and royals, becoming quite familiar with palace grounds she would eventually usurp as one of the Corrupted and the quirks and secrets of the men she bedded.

Driven by her downtrodden and abused place in Ahura society, she plotted to overthrow the men who held power over the land to improve the lives of the peasantry like herself. Unfortunately, she turned to Ahriman to attain the power she lacked to affect the change she wished for, and as she fell further into corruption, her means and motives became corrupted as well. At the height of her power, she had usurped the Ahura royal family and claimed complete control over the royal palace itself, terrorizing its denizens with illusions and magic.

Now that she’s been released from the Temple along with Ahriman by the Mourning King, the Concubine has returned to her old haunt in the palace and by god, she will never shut the fuck up about it.

Voiced by: Lucinda Davis


THE WARRIOR


The Warrior is the fourth and final (base game) Corrupted. His domain is the City of Light, the one-time home to the Ahura common people.

In his mortal life, the Warrior was the king of a proud, but peaceful people from before the days of Ahura. However, his nation was beset from all sides by enemies and his people suffered greatly during their assaults. He lacked the strength to defend his people and ultimately fell into despair as their suffering increased.

It was then that Ahriman came to him, promising to grant him the strength to defend his people and defeat his enemies, which the king, in his desperation, accepted. Ahriman transformed him into the being now known as the Warrior, a powerful and deadly unstoppable force of destruction. The Warrior promptly slaughtered all those who opposed him, but at the cost of the very people he had struck the bargain to defend. Those who survived the war ultimately fled the city rather than live under the rule of a monster.

With his people gone and his city in ruins, the Warrior had nothing left to live for and by then was so deep in Ahriman’s thrall that he ruefully turned himself over to the dark god to serve as one of his Corrupted generals alongside the Hunter, Alchemist, and Concubine.

However, unlike the other Corrupted, there may yet be a shred of his former self still there inside the Warrior’s otherwise impenetrable hulk.

Voiced by: J. Grant Albrecht


And lastly, our special Epilogue Corrupted:


THE MOURNING KING

The newest member of the Corrupted, and the only one of the original five to survive the events of Prince of Persia 2008 itself. The Mourning King fell under Ahriman’s sway when he destroyed the Tree of Life in the Temple of Light to uphold his end of a bargain struck with Ahriman: if the King released Ahriman from his prison, Ahriman would revive his recently deceased daughter Elika. While Elika and the Prince faced off against the other four Corrupted, the King fell deeper under Ahriman’s thrall and the dark god transformed him into a fifth Corrupted piece by piece.

The Mourning King now acts as Ahriman’s herald, speaking with his voice and acting as his hand as harbinger of doom for the living world. The original Mourning King, the good but desperate man who was once Elika’s father has been completely destroyed by the corruption. All that remains is Ahriman’s soulless puppet, bent to the dark god’s will and growing ever stronger as Ahriman’s power returns now that he’s free of the Temple’s prison completely.

The man who struck a deal with the devil so that his daughter could live again now stalks her steps across the desert seeking to kill her in Ahriman’s name. In a perverted way, Ahriman did indeed hold up his end of the bargain, as he always does: the King freed Ahriman on the promise that he would take his grief and pain away, and indeed he did; thanks to the corruption he no longer feels anything.

Voiced by: Fred Tatasciore




THE SHAPESHIFTER

A singular encapsulation of late 00s-era Ubisoft’s developmental laziness. In lieu of facing the Mourning King at the end of each subsection of the Underground Palace, you will also fight a boss known as the Shapeshifter, and by that I mean you will fight an enemy that swaps back and forth between the Hunter and Warrior’s forms to a frustrating degree.

The in-story handwave is that Ahriman apparently can’t confront the Prince and Elika directly because he’s hasn’t regained enough of his power to overcome Elika’s magic, so he sends out this thing that is an extension of himself yet not actually himself to face them which just cycles through forms that he’s already familiar with: his Corrupted generals.

It’s just an excuse for Ubisoft to reuse assets from the base game because Epilogue was rushed out the door just under four months after 2008’s original release date. And even as a half-assed stopgap boss, it’s doubly half assed because it doesn’t even bother to retread all four of the base game Corrupted. That’s right, for reasons that escape me (probably because they didn’t want to bother adapting their code to Epilogue’s new environment parameters), the Shapeshifter never turns into the Alchemist or the Concubine, who were the two most complex Corrupted in terms of gameplay mechanics and animation.




Ubigoon Gimbal lock shows us some sweet insider PoP '08 swag: a Rabbid Nolan North Prince.







Predict the total number of times I die in the LP and win a new avatar care of Blind Sally's credit card.

Here are the current standings and "tie" stipulations:




In the event two bets are equally close, we're gonna play by Price Is Right rules and award it to the lower of the two. Speaking of which, no bet number will be accepted more than once. Got a number you feel is lucky? Better claim it.

You only get ONE GUESS, so make it count. Disqualified players will be crossed out whenever we cross their estimate threshold in-video.

May the odds be ever in your favour.
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