Prince of Persia returns with new challenges and a new magical ally

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Race along the wall, jump for the crumbling pillar, flip up to the ceiling, reach for a bronze ring ... and fall. Do it again a few dozen times until you nail the pattern, or throw your game controller through the TV.

It's an occupational hazard for tomb raiders and one that the latest Prince of Persia game for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows deftly avoids.

Like its predecessors, the game's all about exploring ruined temples and crumbling fortresses, but this time you have Elika, a divine sorceress who uses her magic to catch you when you fall. Failure is still an option—her saves don't mean you automatically succeed—but it makes re-tries a lot easier.

Elika's timely interventions allow you to focus on more important things, like saving the world from the Dark God her father's trying to unleash. Saving the world takes more than a few well-timed leaps, though; the Prince must battle the Dark God's insane minions, executing a variety of sword gauntlet and acrobatic combos with the occasional sorcerous assist.

Defeating a level's guardian reveals one of the best aspects of the game; a previously ominous dungeon transforms into a radiant land ripped from the pages of 1001 Nights. The illuminated levels are populated with collectible light seeds that unlock new areas and reveal additional powers.

It's a cool mechanic that focuses players on defeating each level's villain and rewards them for exploring the magical vistas on their way back out.