Battles of Prince of Persia Nintendo DS
Published by Ubisoft
Developed by Ubisoft
Release Date: Out Now
Battles of Prince of Persia, an introduction.
With Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Ubisoft successfully re-launched the Prince of Persia series and gave gamers a highly polished, and quite brilliant, action platform game. The game was also the first in a trilogy that was recently wrapped up by the excellent Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. It's no surprise then that the Prince of Persia series has been bought to the top handheld systems. Recently we looked at Prince of Persia: Revelations for the PSP, which was essentially a ported (and slightly extended) Warrior Within. Whilst Revelations was a good game, it wasn't really optimised for the PSP. Now it's time to look at Battles of Prince of Persia, a strategy game that's been specifically created for the Nintendo DS.
What's the game about?
Battles of Prince of Persia (we'll simply call it Battles from now on) is a turn-based strategy game that features trading card elements. The game offers Campaign, Versus and Skirmish modes. The Campaign consists of 24 missions and is set between the events of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. You'll get to see what happens to Persia, India and Aresura during this period which is a nice touch. The game has 3 factions, the Persians, Indians and Daevan armies and you'll get to play as all of these. Outside of the campaign you can take part in single-player skirmish modes to practice your skills as well as challenge your friends in the versus mode. You can also build new card decks (with the cards earned in battle) as well as trade cards with a friend who's also playing the game.
What's good about the game?
For a strategy game, Battles is very accessible and even those who haven't played a turn-based strategy game before shouldn't be deterred from playing the game. The first couple of missions are essentially tutorials and these will introduce you to the basics in easy to understand terms making the game easy to pick up. The game is a grid based turn-based strategy game and features a variety of mêlée and ranged units. Like all good strategy games battles are affected by terrain and the direction the units are facing. Each side in a battle has a general (each faction has 3 generals in total) and each general has their own special stats and bonuses. The amount of cards you'll have at any one time is dependent on your general's maximum hand size attribute, for instance. In fact you could say a general is each army's super unit that, if lost, presents that army with a huge obstacle.
Battles are played out in hours with each hour being made up of a number of player turns. The battle begins by deploying your army and then you'll draw a card to determine how many units you can move (or what modifiers can be played). After this you'll move your units either by tapping your unit and then tapping where you want to move them or by dragging and dropping your unit on their destination square. Should you move the unit next to an enemy unit you'll begin a battle. After you've made all of your moves the enemy will then have their turn. Following your enemies turn you can select another card and move your units again. If you don't want to play another card you can then pass. An hour finishes once two passes (one from each player) have been made in succession. At the commencement of the next hour you can discard the cards you don't want and you'll receive new cards from your deck of 30. Battles require you to amass a specified number of victory points, which can be gained in numerous ways with defeating the opponent's general usually yielding a lot more victory points than defeating a standard unit. On defeating the enemy you'll be given a collection of cards and you can use these to form your own decks which you can then use in a battle. Certain cards are specific to a single faction though and there are certain conditions a deck of cards must satisfy, so you'll have to be careful when constructing your own decks. Thankfully though the manual explains all you need to know in this respect.
What's not so good about the game?
Those of you who are experienced with PC turn-based strategy titles might find the AI a little lacking at times. The AI doesn't always go for the jugular and can often leave itself exposed. Whilst this does take away from the challenge somewhat, it doesn't really spoil the experience and makes the game more accessible. However, the grognards out there may have expected a higher degree of challenge or at the very least a higher difficulty setting. The multiplayer versus mode offers multi-card play only, meaning that you'll need to find a friend who not only owns a DS but also a copy of Battles in order to experience the multiplayer game, which means most won't get to experience it. It's also a shame that the campaign has only one save slot. One of the things I like about the DS version of Advance Wars is that I can pass the game to other members of my family and that they can each have their own campaign save slot. Unfortunately though that's not possible with Battles.
How does it look?
Turn-based strategy games are not known for their beauty and Battles is certainly no exception. The top screen shows your objectives, battle and unit info etc., whilst the bottom screen shows the battlefield, your card deck and any other information you can interact with. The game uses a top-down view of the battlefield and simple icons to represent your troops. When you click on a unit it will change from an icon to a character and during movement the units will simply be a square consisting of dots to represent your men. When a battle takes place you'll see a small scale battle take place on the top screen. These battles actually look rather poor and they get very repetitive. Thankfully you can turn them off and this also has the advantage of speeding the missions up quite considerably. Overall the presentation of the game can best be described as basic but thankfully this no frills approach doesn't take anything away from the addictive game play.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Battles of Prince of Persia is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. Rather than have verbal introductions to each scenario, the developers chose to use simple drawings and text as a means of conveying the story. This method may be a disappointment to those who were expecting elaborate cutscenes but it's a method that works fine for deaf gamers. You need to tap the touch screen with your stylus in order to move the dialogue forward, so you get to read the text at your own pace which is great to see. All tutorial messages are shown in text and all other information is shown visually. There aren't any captions to depict the cries of those involved in battles etc. but this is hardly a problem. The game manual contains 40 pages of English text and does a great job of covering all that you need to know to fully enjoy the game.
Ubisoft deserve praise for taking the Prince of Persia franchise into a completely different genre. On the whole this is a very enjoyable turn-based strategy game that any fans of the genre will appreciate. The game may lack impressive visuals but what it lacks in looks it certainly makes up for in depth. The developers have made great use of the DS and its special qualities. The touch screen is an ideal way of moving units about and scrolling around the screen and dragging and dropping your cards around. The game suits the DS so well that it makes you think that a Civilization game or other PC turn-based strategy game could easily be bought to the DS without any problems. DS owning strategy fans should definitely give the game a look.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
(Click the letter or here for details)
Battles of Prince of Persia is quite a departure from the previous Prince of Persia games but in it's own way it's just as enjoyable as the previous titles. The game may lack visual quality but it makes up for it by being a very enjoyable turn-based strategy title.