Thursday, March 29, 2007

New entertainments

I bought the best of Faithless album Forever the other day, almost purely on the basis of "Insomnia". Being a long-time listener to club/dance music, I'm a big fan of the song. Anyhow, listening to the CD, I got the feeling that I was just listening to a dozen variations of "Insomnia"... I think the main reason for that is that I started noticing how little change there was in the rapping from one song to the next by the vocalist. That combined with the repeating of certain rhymes and it just started to seem that way.

Something that I've enjoyed far more is Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. It was one in the line of games that were given high scores by Edge that I had set my eye on, and I picked it up from a net-auction quite long ago, but haven't started playing it until now. (As regular readers know, I've been picking up games for cheap like crazy the last couple of months. Between my brother and me, I think we've picked up around 10 games in less than half a year.) I'm always a bit ancious when starting to play a high-scoring game, because I'm worried that I won't like it and it'll just have been money in the lake; this happened most recently with Metal Gear Solid 2 for Xbox, I just couldn't get into it... But since I also bought that for cheap, it wasn't such a big loss.

Back to PoP. The controls didn't feel 100% (games that have that good controls are rarities, Super Mario 64 springs to mind), but with time I got used to them. The first couple of fights were a bit... wobbling. Unfamiliar controls meant I often ended up putting away my sword instead of attacking. I managed to hack, slash and limp my way through the first encounters, and reached the first real puzzles. And then I knew I was hooked. In front of me were huge, delapitated rooms that I had to find a way across, using all of the Prince's abilities: jumping across chasms, swinging between poles, running along walls. Let me say that again, running along walls. If I hadn't been won over by then, I sure was the moment I learned you could do that.

Another big part that drew me in was the story. Just like with Broken Sword, it seems like Prince of Persia has a pretty strong story behind it. Another similarity with Broken Sword is the use of voice-overs using the past form; in BS it often appeared in interaction with items (eg. "I used the metal rod to hit the old bird's nest, dropping it to the ground"), while in PoP the Prince himself is the one telling the story (and when you run out of health and die, saying "no, that's not how it happened", allowing you to retry). While this use of the past tense might only seem like a story-telling mechanism, it also serves to encourage the player: the impression that it has already happened stops you from thinking that that certain, tricky area is beyond your abilities.

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