The Forgotten Sands seems like a bit of an afterthought now that the franchise has gone all Hollywood on us. But spare a thought for the videogame world's Prince. Oddly, Ubisoft has made minimal fuss about the return of one of its most famous and bankable stars, but more fool them.
Those with fond memories of the Prince in his pomp will be pleased to hear that this new Prince Of Persia game is just as enjoyable as the trilogy of GameCube games before it. Using the full gamut of the Prince's parkour-esque skills, you're invited to run, jump and clamber through perilous platforming sections as well as fight off baddies. Most significantly though, you're also asked to solve a slew of environment-based puzzles, very much in the time-honoured Tomb Raider and Legend of Zelda tradition.
You control our Prince on a quest through some mythologicaly-themed ruins, with a Navi-style spirit sidekick as accompaniment. The bulk of your time will be spent getting from A to B by way of leaping over chasms, running up and along the environment's walls and shimmying along ledges.
You also have some Spirit Powers to call upon. Initially this involves using the pointer to 'fire' your powers at certain spots in the environment with the B button. On walls, this produces hooks to hang from; on terra firma a blast of your powers creates electric blue cyclones which boost you up to higher ground.
You can scale huge, crumbling buildings and negotiate some highly elaborate traps. Figuring out how to do that is where all of the enjoyment lies within The Forgotten Sands. You'll need to stop and think through how to use your skills and surroundings to get through each challenge unscathed. The Forgotten Sands replaces intense action with a palpable sense of satisfaction, triggered when you crack one of the game's increasingly intricate spatial conundrums.
Sadly, the combat is largely a frustrating affair, and starts to become a real waggling slog later on in the game. In a bid to land as many hits as possible, fights soon descend into a solid five minutes of furious dodging and controller shaking. The lack of a truly effective lock-on or blocking system is also frustrating.
After a tedious opening section that really tested our patience, we eventually see the true Prince of Persia - a string of well thought-out, genuinely satisfying platform puzzles, marred only by some dodgy combat and annoying boss fights.
This is an edited version of a review that appears in ONM 57 which is on sale on Wednesday 16 June. For the full unedited version with more in-depth analysis, screenshots and boxouts look out for the magazine.