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Total Reviews: 3
Average Overall Score Given: 9.33333 / 10
Total Forum Posts: 0

Reviews
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Overall: I'll second that Game of the Year nomination. This is a stunning piece of work. Unlike the Wind Wanker for the Gamepurse, this is a game you actually want to finish and will finish.

PoP combines enough puzzles to keep those who hate combat games from shelving it, and enough combat to keep action fans from tuning out. Progressing through the game brings new abilities, much more difficult enemies and much less obvious puzzles.

BTW, while you're playing, you can choose to appear online on Live. Friends can invite you once they are online. Hopefully, we'll see this feature in every game soon, maybe even in games by developers that strongly boycott Live like EA.

Gameplay: There are almost too many good things about PoP to mention. This is the best hand to hand combat system ever released. The diversity of moves and the ability of the enemies to adapt to repetitive movements turns buttonmashing into brainmashing, you've actually got to have a strategy more than a twitch. The enemies are so greatly overpowered that panic sets in when you're surrounded, not once you've been diced and left to rot.

When you do get cornered, being able to stop time and reverse it ten seconds to stand on better ground makes for much longer gameplay. We're not talking tacky Blinx and the Timesweeper here, either. Since the enemy has a huge power advantage and you have a huge speed and time advantage, there's nothing cheap-feeling about using your ability to try a parry over again. Cheap would be the hundred Mission Failed screens in a row. Wham, back to Blockbuster.

In addition to not dying, you have to protect an arrow-slinging woman from these sand beasts that regard the arrows as little more than flea bites. If she dies, you get to start the current scene over. Fortunate outcome #1: You can use the sand dagger to reverse time then protect her better. Fortunate outcome #2: unlike harsh platformers, you don't lose all your progress since your last save-point, you only lose your progress in the current scene.

PoP's puzzles and mazes rely on speed, timing and balance. Many of them are timed by levers pulled out from walls that tick down to blocking your goal. Getting the rhythm of kicking your way up through two parallel walls can be tricky, and running along walls takes a little patience over longer distances.

While you've got the primary goal of winning battles and solving puzzles, along the way you're looking for ways to upgrade. Once you kill an enemy, taking their sand allows you one more chance to turn back time, up to the maximum number of sand tanks you have. You add sand tanks by finding sand clouds that aren't obvious, but give off a telltale sound that send you searching. As you're killing enemies, you're also powering up your power tanks. One jab with the dagger when you have a full power tank can paralyze even the strongest enemy, then two whacks with the sword will dispose them. Tap the trigger when you have full power tanks, and everything moves in slow motion. If all your power tanks are full, you can fast forward, and there are puzzles that... uhm..., well..., you get the idea.

The only issue in gameplay is with the camera. As is the case with many third-person-camera games, the developers feel that the camera has to physically exist in the game space. As a result, if you're on a very short ledge and there's a wall behind you, but you need to point toward a wall at your left to walk on it, you end up having to dance around to get the camera to "fit" at the back of the ledge behind you. Ideally, the camera should auto-zoom to its back boundary rather than getting stuck. Otherwise, let the camera travel free and don't render the wall behind the character when the camera is over the shoulder.

Graphics: Gah!

The live action is as detailed and distant as any game, plus the cutscenes are the best in any game I have ever seen, even DOA.

This is the Splinter Cell look, slightly more polished, not as gritty. It looks like a Pixar piece rendered for hours.

Audio: The music is as good as Halo, starting with an equally haunting opening chant. Different music is used to signal different scenes, with good battle music that ends once the last enemy is defeated.

Numerous sound cues indicate nearby items to explore. The timing of the contact sounds in the battles is dead on and becomes critical to getting your strike timing right.

Farah, your archer-in-tow, will often spout off some annoying phrase repeatedly, but it seems the Prince isn't supposed to completely LIKE her. Farah isn't portrayed as your ideal woman hero, so expect the usual crap about the girlie character being a helpless bimbo from the significant other. Somestimes, you'd almost wish her dead if she weren't part of your goal, and it's mainly because of what comes out of her yammering trap.

One issue with the sound. On a DD5.1 system, in large rooms, it seems like conversation that should be in the center channel sort of gets lost. Even at high volumes, you almost can't hear Farah and the Prince talking. I'm not sure if that's by design, but I've heard some fairly relevant facts exchanged in these talks.

Suggestions: Do whatever you can to repeat this genius.

Overall Score: 10.0 / 10 SSX 3

Overall: An EA game has to be pretty much amazing for me to buy it since I openly and vocally boycott their products due to their inability to come to contract terms with Microsoft over Xbox Live and the almighty dollar. As a big fan of SSX Tricky, when I saw 3 on demo and played it for a few minutes, I knew I had to have it, even though it can only be played online with a PS2.

Tricky looks and plays like an accident after having 3 for awhile. The races are a little too easy, but the course designs and trick combinations are greatly improved. It's literally possible to trick down the whole mountain given the great new abilities in SSX 3.

SSX 3 also adds backcountry courses with deep snow, huge ice, and storms that will blow you right off course and into the nearest solid object.

I had a little extra learning curve with SSX 3 than most Tricky upgraders since I play Tricky on the Cube. Surprisingly, the control scheme becomes second nature very fast. It's so easy to mash together trcik combinations, I've somehow managed to do some nerve damage in my thumb in the process. Gotta love a game good enough to play your fingers numb over.

This is an excellent game for anyone into speed games and when you're not racing, the perfectly-designed control scheme will make trick runs much less frustrating than other titles.

Gameplay: By now, other reviewers have given the basic premise, 3 peaks, multi events, etc...

Science is greatly exaggerated here, but we call that fun. Many of the moves the game relies on to win would snap knees, and the air is about 40 feet beyond reality, but we the couch generation would quickly shelve a game that didn't bend a few rules.

Course design is great. Race courses have lights indicating where shortcuts can be found, and the ability to stay airborne on long chains of objects makes for great speed, point combo, and trick potential.

Unlike Tricky, where board choice greatly influenced a rider's outcome in a specific race type, SSX 3 requires you to win events, win cash, and buy attributes for your rider (Think Tiger Woods PGA Tour) that improve their skills in the specific areas you choose. EA clunked a little in the attribute feature. When you visit the lodge to buy attributes, it is possible to max out without spending all your cash. There's an artificial barrier to adding more than one full skill point to a category. So if you just won a huge payout and you max out, you end up having to leave the lodge, then immediately transport to the lodge again. Yeah, you have to transport to it. Even though it's just ... right ... over ... there ... can't... reach.

You don't have to be a gold medal racer to make it through this game fast, but it sure helps. I found the races pretty easy to beat and even finished first in two peak 3 races first time down the hill. That's sort of disappointing. I ended up playing the races a few more times, and I've taken a break from the game so I don't burn through its races in a week.

The trick events, however, get me going for at least a dozen runs before I medal, since it takes more time to find the best features to trick off and how to combo between them without gulping snowcone. With all the money I've won from racing, I'm maxxed out on all my attributes even though I still don't have a freestyle gold on peak 2 yet. That helps make tricks more effective, and the combination of both skills gives the game much more long term playability. The combination of speed and trick points in the final peak challenges for peaks 2 and 3 make a great event and another huge design leap over Tricky.

Typical EA game saving is back from the people that invented the convoluted save function. When you save the first time, it doesn't remember the profile you opened. Once you highlight the profile you want to update it asks if you want to overwrite that file. Most games realize that when you want to save, you want to update your existing file rather than littering a bunch of progressively further save files around. Fortunately, this quirk consistent in all EA games is easy to wave aside.

Graphics: Looks a lot better than Tricky did. Fingers, we've got fingers, not just GTA3 mittens. Blowing snow and sunlit courses look great. Overall, very nice to look at.

Audio: All that music must have cost a fortune, and most of it is some of the best material around these days. I wish I could use my own music, though, since I have the whole discs many of the tracks come from.

With all the money spent on the music, there's not much for sound effects covering it up. Ice sounds like ice, but otherwise, not much wind noise, etc... It's token DD 5.1, too, you can't hear people approaching behind you on rear speakers.

Suggestions: At least Live enable your games with Appear Online status so that my friend list can see me when I'm playing your game. If I'm waiting for friends to come online, I'm not going to be playing a completely offline game like yours.

I realize trying to convince EA to settle with Microsoft over Live royalties is like asking a 500# gorilla to stop eating bananas, but every glowing review I give EA is a chance to sound off, even if it's as a gnat in Uzbekistan.

As more and more games go completely Online or add Appear Online ability, people who aren't Addicts will eventually notice that EA can't do what the other games can, especially XSN games. Unfortunately, EA typically makes 90% of the B-grade games out there today, with a few stars uncommon of any corporation your size. The typical Xbox owner is not going to choose another game over EA when they're the only one in a category or the oldest. So EA gets to carry on with their Live boycott that affects millions, and I get to carry on with my insignificant EA boycott.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003

Overall: As a non-golfer really not crazy about golf or golf games, there are many reasons to like and play this game. There are some major issues that need work, but overall this is a fun title we keep playing over and over. The graphics and sound are consistent with what we expect from Xbox titles. The info display while golfing is very complete. There are many varied ways to play and earn money from target shooting to skins games that keep us playing.

Gameplay: Using the stick as the golfer swing is an obvious choice, and including draw, fade, hook and slice on the stick's motion make for a nice single control that requires a bit of skill to learn if you're going to try more sophisticated swings than just mashing the stick forward as fast as you can.

I also think the spin effect mashing of the black button and pointing the swing stick is a good choice.

Everyone I know that plays the game hates the buttonmash speed drill required to apply power to a shot. Typically 10 to 15 seconds are wasted on each shot as the player retries and retries their white buttonmashing to get the desired power level. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever on a controller that has the perfect proportional device, a trigger. How hard would it have been to make the triggers affect power once the swing stick is pulled back?

This is the major failure of this game and most often the reason it goes back in the rack for some thumb relief.

The variety of play modes is great, especially match play and skins. The huge omission has been mentioned, Live support. Mentioning an EA web site as an online feature is a complete insult to the XBox Live userbase. There is and always will be one and only one way to do live content on Xbox. There is no room for dozens of private sites with varying abilities and degrees of service in Xbox, and vendors like EA need to snap out of it. This isn't the Sony world, we want a centralized gaming setup.

I also agree with the comments about the player face shots. If you're going to allow a player to apply spin after a shot is hit, you need to let the player see where the ball is headed.

4.5 for the great play, minus 2 points for the power control on the white button.

Graphics: Consistent with most titles on the Xbox, the graphics are nice. The backgrounds respond to wind and weather. The characters could show more weather effect. I was in a 20mph sustained wind at St. Andrews with no ripple effect on the character's loose shirt.
The crowd graphics are weak, but they aren't that important. The squirrels look like they were drawn for new Zelda.


Audio: Sound effects for swings, highly-powered swings and ball contact with objects are great. Wind needs a little work on some courses. The announcers have a life of about 10 hours of match play.

I've got 50 hours of tracks on my Xbox, and not only is this another title with no user playlisting, it's another playlist with, tops, one track with any value. Dammitall, the music matters. If you're going to put tracks in a game, ya gotta let me do more than just shut them all off.

Suggestions: Ditch the buttonmash for power, add online.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10

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