Looks Can't Kill 


The American dream is no longer one of hard work and white picket fences. If Kim Kardashian's adoring teenage fans are any indication, we've traded in the ideals of our fathers for a set of fake tits and a purse-sized dog. If that's the sort of thing that gets you off, more power to you, but this focus on form over function is increasingly bleeding into our generation's defining art form: videogames.

Ubisoft's newly released Prince of Persia is the perfect example of this emphasis on the pretty to the exclusion of the interesting. The gorgeous art style, Matrix-esque combat, and cinematic storytelling will definitely impress players—but about 20 minutes into the game, once you realize that the map system is more confusing than useful, and that the gameplay can be best described as 15 hours of tapping out rote combat maneuvers, PoP loses most of its luster.

That's not to say the game is all bad: By focusing on looks over substance, Ubisoft has instilled some excellent style into the experience. The game's combat is entertaining, and though it's becoming a bit of a cliché, the parkour-esque acrobatics necessary to navigate the game's terrain are intuitively designed and stylish.

Sadly, the game's triumphs only highlight its flaws, as what would normally be tense action becomes dull due to a palpable lack of any significant danger. Aside from being a prince, the Persian protagonist is also immortal: Neither long drops nor your enemies can kill you, and as a result, it's almost impossible to give a damn about your progression.

Even so, if you're a fan of action games, drop five dollars to rent Prince of Persia. It lacks the high-concept ideas of the recent Mirror's Edge, and the game's "ultimate evil seeks to destroy the world" plot isn't exactly Shakespeare, but if you can turn your brain off for a few hours, PoP makes for some pretty (if dumb) entertainment.

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