Battles of Prince of Persia DS Review

Prince of Persia? As a card battle game? Surely, this is something that Jordan Mechner wouldn't have thought of when he was creating his PC masterpiece years ago and then overseeing the modern rebirth of his hero on the Xbox. But here's Ubisoft, willing to crank out a title for the Nintendo DS that differs from the action entries on other systems...and suffers badly as a result.

It's not like the idea was born without merit. There is an interesting card system here that comes into play after the story is unfolded before each battle, and then you lay out your cards accordingly, with different soldiers, including distance fighters and up-close attackers such as the Prince, and prep for battle. So think of it as Advance Wars meets Lawrence of Arabia and you get the idea.

The problem is, the actual game in itself isn't nearly as fun as either of those. The way that the battles unfold results in a lot of tedium and, dare I say it, boredom. Sure, there's intensity when a souped-up warrior lets loose on his own and rips the enemy apart, but these moments are far and few between and you're left trying to come to grips with the remaining moments of battle. It's like watching a cannon fire across the field in great intensity and exploding, and then everyone pulling out pea shooters and attacking the enemy. The intensity, whatever there was left, fades quickly.

And this also poses a big problem for the game's main feature, which is multiplayer. Sure, you can battle a few friends in strategic warfare and even design your own custom card pack to your advantage, but, really, it's rather pointless. Your friends will play this for a matter of maybe an hour or two before realizing that Nintendo's own Advance Wars easily wipes the floor with it in terms of complexity and sheer enjoyment. The game feels like a patch job, and any given gamer who's a fan of the franchise will see the tears in the fabric in a matter of overlays.

It's not just the battle controls that hold the game back. Nope. The graphics also feel very ancient, especially when compared to the other Prince of Persia releases. I understand that the DS is no PSP, but the developers need to realize that the system has power and potential all its own and should at least put forward some kind of effort that doesn't look like a souped-up GBA port. The music's alright, and the sound's pretty good, but audio should not be the main reason why you pick up a game. That's when you go after a soundtrack.

I wanted to give Battles of Prince of Persia a fair chance. I really did. The idea of the game shifting from its action roots to a strategy game swayed me a little, but I was fair and forgiving and decided to see what magic Ubisoft could wave over the DS. Instead, all I find is a strategic card battler that's missing out on any fun, intuitive design, or, worst of all, a point. Stick to your Advance Wars and leave this battlefield empty.

What's Hot: An interesting idea with the card system; good audio.

What's Not: BORING gameplay; below-average graphics; uninteresting multiplayer.

2/5