Imagine if you bought the new Harry Potter book in July then found out that it was the same as the last one. Not just the same plot, but the exact same story, word for word, just with a slightly different cover. Naturally, you'd be a little annoyed. This is why we're perplexed, because other than the Wii's control system and a single smattering of new chariot races, Prince Of Persia: Rival Swords is absolutely identical to Prince Of Persia: The Two Thrones, a title that was released on the GameCube back in November 2005. So why is it being released now under a different name? We're not entirely sure (though it's probably got something to do with making money on an easy port), but rest assured if you're fooled into buying it expecting a different game, you're going to be very disappointed.
For what it's worth, the Prince Of Persia series is highly acclaimed as one of the best collections of adventure games to date, and Rival Swords is no different. The third game in the Persia trilogy, its main feature is the Prince's tendency to transform into the Dark Prince - his evil alter-ego - who's armed with a bladed whip known as the Daggertail. It's a fantastic adventure and, though a bit on the short side, it provides an extremely enjoyable gameplay experience.
Since the only true difference between this and the GameCube game is the control system though, let's focus on that. Happily, it works most of the time. Turning the Remote to rotate the camera is a twist of genius, if you'll pardon the pun, and works really well, while fighting is mostly satisfying, if a little annoying at times (the Remote acts as your right weapon and the Nunchuk as your left, when you have one).
But there are some motion-sensitive actions that really require the split-second input of a joypad button which, to be honest, aren't much fun and tend to ruin the game somewhat. For example, triggering a stealth attack involves flicking the Nunchuk, but if you're trying to do this while running along a wall then you can only really activate the attack as you're running across a wall switch (as the Prince will vault off that to perform the attack instead if he's not).
Although this clearly leaves little room for error, at times the Nunchuk motion doesn't register properly and your character frustratingly ends up tumbling to the floor. In situations like this, pressing a button would do the job just fine, and it seems like it's a case of Ubisoft using technology just because it's there rather than giving any real thought to how these new Remote controls would end up influencing the gameplay.
Making The Most Of It
Ultimately, your enjoyment of Rival Swords will depend entirely on whether you've already played the GameCube title. If you've never played the game before then add 15 per cent to the score, because it's an extremely enjoyable and atmospheric adventure, albeit one with controls that can cause frustration if you haven't got the sharply honed reflexes of a kickboxer's cat.
If, however, you've already played The Two Thrones either on the GameCube or another console, paying another 40 quid for exactly the same game with different controls (when you can get it on the GameCube for half that) is something we just can't recommend. We said exactly the same about Splinter Cell: Double Agent a few issues ago, so let's hope Ubisoft gets a few new ideas soon.