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Two months since it debuted on the PC and PlayStation 2 - just long enough for the boffins at Ubisoft to do all the relevant tweaking and other scientific magic - and the popular Prince of Persia revamp, The Sands of Time, has made its way gracefully over to the Xbox. Despite not faring too brilliantly in the Christmas charts, the previous two versions won a great deal of praise for faithfully bringing the best elements of the Amiga classic to the current crop of gaming hardware, in a combat-filled, acrobatic action adventure. The Xbox version is essentially a direct port, but benefits from a certain amount of optimisation for the host platform, and also includes a conversion of the original retro platformer as a little bonus.
As such, you once again take on the role of the athletic prince, as you navigate your way through the game's maze-like structure of hazardous, claustrophobic environments, filled with thought-provoking puzzles and myriad enemies.
The game's story takes place amidst the sands of ancient Persia, where legend tells of a time borne by blood and ruled by deceit. Within this war-torn land, the young Prince discovers a magic dagger and, drawn to its dark powers, unwittingly unleashes an evil upon his father's kingdom. And so he must embark on a quest to reclaim the Palace's cursed chambers and restore peace to the fabric of time itself.
One of the key new elements to the game can be found in the title itself. Amidst the all the platform jumping, hanging, swinging, wall-running, shimmying, fighting and puzzle-solving, you also have to master the ability to control time. Consequently, throughout the game you acquire a range of time-manipulating manoeuvres, such as the Power of Revival (rewind up to two seconds), the Power of Delay (slow-motion), The Power of Restraint (freeze enemies in time), and The Power of Gathering (rebuild specific objects). Making use of these powers is key to progression through the game and both your life gauge and a number of the game's puzzles rely on them.
As mentioned before, The Sands of Time is an extremely respectable resurrection of the classic concept, featuring the same intricate level design and intuitive control system, as well as throwing a whole lot more into the mix to cater for the demands of today's gamer.