There’s a clever bloke by the name of Jordan Mechner who created one of the most ground-breaking computer games of its time, just over a decade ago. Called Prince of Persia, it stunned players and press alike because of the supremely fluid and realistic movement of its main character, the Prince of the title. He ran, jumped, crouched and fell to spiky death just like a real human might.
In the mid-1990s, a sequel to the original games was launched. Called, cleverly, Prince of Persia 2, it was bigger but not actually better; there was more combat and less running, jumping, climbing and puzzle-solving. Now we’re on the third instalment, and things have changed once again. Prince of Persia 3D is, as the name suggests, a proper 3D action game. Using the third-person view rather than the first-person preferred by Quake-type games, POP3D swaps the 2D platform feel of the first two games for a more immersive environment.
Again playing the part of the Prince, your goal is once again to rescue your Princess, who has foolishly allowed herself to be kidnapped yet again. So, starting from the palace dungeons, you must negotiate your way past traps, guards and monsters to locate and free her from her mountainous prison.
The third-person viewpoint can make things a little confusing sometimes, just like Tomb Raider, but the various palaces, caverns, dungeons and ruined cities have been well created and some of the many opponents you will face on your travels are truly fierce. Armed initially with just a sword, you’ll eventually progress to magic potions and a bow and arrow – this doesn’t sound like much, but the combat system is actually very elegant, relying on a good sense of timing and dexterity. Players used to more destructive projectile weapons might be disappointed, though.
This isn’t just another 3D action game. The combat system alone sets it apart from the rest of the pack, but also contributing to the game’s atmosphere are the many puzzles and traps, the latter including some nasty razor-edged gadgets that bring tears to the eyes.