Kevin Vance - Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones

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Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones

Friday, December 30th, 2005
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T2T is the third game of UBISOFT's Prince of Persia series. If jagged metal Krusty-O's had a sweet, sweet nougat center, I would be sure to use them as an analogy for the game. You probably know what to expect of gameplay mechanics. There are a couple new gymnastic moves, and probably new combat moves also. Fortunately, it is possible to sneak through most areas (enemies never look up), performing stealth kills to avoid regular combat. Don't forget your chunk-fu yet! The art of immediately throwing your enemies off a ledge to end yet another swordfight is still vital. Hopefully you will be sneaky enough to keep its use to a minimum.

this is some kind of tangential rant

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's talk about getting the game running. Of course I have the PC version. The install process is just like any other. Right up until the end where it rips through your OS and forces in its huge system-level drivers. It's done before you know what happened.

So when I eagerly clicked on the new desktop icon to begin the game, I got put into some kind of figurative TSA airport queue. It asked for my CD key. "Fine," I thought, "I'll humor you. Even though you have no multiplayer component, which makes my product key useless as a check, I'll jump through the hoop." Eject the disc to read the key, of course. It also told me that the copy protection it installed requires a reboot, k thx. Practically busting at the seams with joy and love, I complied. Another click on the icon and a fifteen second CD verification period later, and I was ready to play!

Copy protection screenshot

I also need to register my disappointment with the warez crowd. Last year, I could buy a game, run a full install, and download a patch to disable the copy protection, and put the CD in a CD binder and forget where the CD binder is. What happened this year? The best you can offer are crappy "mini-images" that you have to mount through the windows equivalent of a loopback device. And oh yeah, you have to unplug all your hardware cdroms or it won't work. Sometimes, like for civ4, you can just open the registry editor and temporarily rename the SCSI section before it launches, and then change it back. Lame.

I'll tell you one thing, unless the crax0r d00dz wake up sometime soon, my next gaming machine will not have an internal DVD drive. I'm already *really* excited as it is about StarForce or whatever sitting in my memory all the time.

uh I guess it's over

The combat is still frustratingly designed to give you a choice between spending fifteen minutes memorizing the move list or mashing buttons, desperately repeating the moves you accidentally execute. In my happy armchair game designer world, the combat is only there to break up the puzzles and traps, so I always choose to mash.

There are lots of other smaller annoyances. You can't skip the ZOMG THIS GAME IS PRODUCED BY UBISOFT videos that play every time the game starts (.......until you take a look at the Video subdirectory, and move the files LOGORP.BIK, UBIMC.BIK, and UBISOFT.BIK out of the way ;) and there seems to be no telling whether or not you'll be able to skip an in-game cut scene. Some few lucky times, I have. But I can't even count how many times I've watched boss-fight introductions. Over. And. Over. And. Over.

The bosses are good. A little more interesting than in the last games. Sure, you still probe for a weakness while dodging for your life, then exploit said weakness until you can't anymore and repeat. But the same stealth-kill timing is required at certain points during boss fights in order to inflict damage. And if you're stuck, the Prince offers hints (talking to himself!) that are mostly useful. (Though as kartos would probably tell you, sometimes they hurt more than they help!)

The graphics are still sweet and stylish. There is plenty of amusing Prince banter. And I do believe there is a hint of self-referential apologizing for the Prince's "generic rage" in the last game. Not that I minded. So, finally. It was fun. Sadly, they offer no incentive to play through again. (The "telephone of doom" or whatever is not cutting it for me.) No bonus ending, no alternate final weapon, and you easily unlock everything at the end. Ah well. Maybe someday, I'll play them all through, one after the other.

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[User Picture]From: the_chuck
2005-12-30 06:03 am (UTC)
there's some thing put out to remove the starforce drivers. prolly don't want to use it 'til you uninstall the game, but.. just a way of getting rid of those. yeah.
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[User Picture]From: kartos
2005-12-30 04:13 pm (UTC)
"You can't skip the ZOMG THIS GAME IS PRODUCED BY UBISOFT videos that play every time the game starts"

WELCOME TO CONSOLES, BITCH. :D Though, once you see something ingame and hit retry, you can skip it. Duno the computer command though. There are a few I haven't been able to, like the 2 minotaur dudes intro is unskipable.

YURI LOWENTHAL. The game is worth it just to hear him talk to himself. ... and to Farah, even with her new, younger sounding voice.

Couldn't pay me enough to play Warrior Within again. I would sell it, but I wouldn't even get back 1/4 of my money :/ Plus its kinda cute having the set, even if I need to aquire Cube version D:

I'M STUCK AT THE MOTHER FUCKING VIZIER. I don't care if he was "too easy" in Sands, this fight takes forever and a day. Plus I never found the last life up. BLAST! I did only try for about and hour or some shit, but goddamn, this is on Normal, not Hard. :/
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[User Picture]From: kvance
2005-12-30 07:29 pm (UTC)
OH I KNOW! The vizier is tough, I had to play it so many times. When I finally developed a strategy, I could get to the last part with all or at least most of my sand tanks. At least this was one of the cut scenes I could skip.
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[User Picture]From: kartos
2005-12-30 08:29 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, thank god. Arg! I don't think I can handle the controls on the PS2 as well as I did the Gamecube, so I've been fighting the camera as much as the enemies. So running and getting that fucking insta-kill prompt in the spinning vortext is near impossible. :/
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[User Picture]From: jzig
2005-12-30 06:25 pm (UTC)
You can pretty much blame starforce for the crappiness there. In exchange for being absolutely fucking insane software that is basically a rootkit, it's fairly effective. Ubi has started protecting demos with it, too, so hackers won't have a starting point to work off of.
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[User Picture]From: kvance
2005-12-30 07:39 pm (UTC)
Copy protection bugs me even when it's not demanding long buried CDs. You still always get the encrypted program and the key, no matter how complicated the decryption is. Even if the hax0r d00dz haven't reversed StarForce yet, you better believe that Macrovision and Sony have.
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[User Picture]From: kartos
2005-12-30 08:30 pm (UTC)
that reminds me of disabling right click on a webpage so you won't steal someone's artwork. lolz
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[User Picture]From: kvance
2005-12-30 08:42 pm (UTC)
I was at one of those sites the other day, and I found out that firefox already has a feature to block it! In preferences -> content -> Enable JavaScript Advanced. I unchecked every one of those options.
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[User Picture]From: kartos
2005-12-31 01:05 am (UTC)
lolz nice

Go Firefox!
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