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|Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones|
Sony Computer Entertainment
|Designer(s)||Charles Jacob (programmer)|
|Writer(s)||Corey G. May|
|Series||The Sands of Time Trilogy|
puzzle-platformer, hack and slash
|Rating(s)||M for mature|
|Previous game (release)||Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (Revelations)|
|Next game (release)||Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands|
|Previous game (canon)||Prince of Persia: Warrior Within|
Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones is a third-person action-adventure puzzle-platforming video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and released in North America December 2005 across most major platforms. It was published by Ubisoft in western territories and Sony Computer Entertainment in Japan. Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones is, chronologically, the third game in The Sands of Time Trilogy. Canonically, The Two Thrones concludes the story that began in Battles of Prince of Persia and Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. Shortly following the events of Warrior Within, The Prince returns to his home in Babylon only to find it under siege by the Vizier and the nomadic Scythians. When his ship is attacked, he is separated from Kaileena, who is kidnapped. When she is taken to the Vizier, Kaileena is killed by the Vizier, re-releasing the Sands of Time. Corrupted by the Sands, the Prince's darker nature is personified in the form of the "Dark Prince". Torn between vengeance and helping his kingdom, the Prince must decide what is more important to him before all of Babylon and the world is destroyed by the Vizier's destructive grab for power.
Announced in March of 2005, The Two Thrones was released on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and Microsoft Windows in December of that year. Two years later, a PlayStation Portable and Nintendo Wii port was developed and published in North America by Pipeworks and Ubisoft Montreal in April of 2007 as Prince of Persia: Rival Swords. The Two Thrones received mixed to positive reviews from major gaming websites for its gameplay and the combination of tones from The Sands of Time and Warrior Within. Like Warrior Within, it failed garner the same critical acclaim as 2003's The Sands of Time.
While The Two Thrones marks the official end of The Sands of Time Trilogy, Ubisoft Montreal, Casablanca, Singapore and Quebec released a midquel to The Sands of Time: Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (May 18, 2010) for seventh generation consoles. On November 2010 and April 2011, The Two Thrones was included in the PlayStation exclusive HD Collection for The Sands of Time Trilogy.
- "Returning to Babylon with new-found love Kaileena, the Prince soon discovers that his homeland is ravaged by war. Captured, Kaileena has no choice but to unleash the Sands of Time to save her Prince, but will he have enough strength to prevent the Dark Prince from possessing him? Master two very different characters as you engage enemies with the new free-form fighting system. Strangle foes with the Daggertail or use new stealth skills to launch deadly attacks from the shadows, all the while embarking on a twisting tale that immerses you in the Prince's shadowy fate. Play as two distinct characters, each with their own style and history. New Sands of Time powers complement the existing ability to slow down and rewind time. Enjoy a masterful blend of action combat, agility, and story-driven puzzles."
- —Official Description
- Prince - The protagonist of The Sands of Time Trilogy, the Prince returns to his home in Babylon to find his kingdom under siege by the Scythians, led by the Vizier. When Kaileena is killed, he is infected by the Sands of Time and his darker persona is given sentience in the form of the Dark Prince.
- Dark Prince - The Dark Prince is agglomeration of the Prince's darker and weaker qualities. He guides the Prince through the transition of his powers when he takes over his body. Though he appears to be an ally of the Prince, in truth, the Dark Prince works toward his own goals for power and control over his dominant persona.
- Kaileena - The Empress of Time narrates the harrowing tale of the Prince after she is killed and the Sands of Time are released by the Vizier.
- Farah - A prisoner of the Vizier, Farah inadvertently reunites with the Prince and works to free Babylon's citizens from the reign of the Vizier, now a self-proclaimed god known as Zurvan.
- Vizier - Resurrected by the actions of the Prince (who prevented the creation of the Sands of Time by rescuing Kaileena), the Vizier continues his quest for immortality and earns it when he kills Kaileena and absorbs the Sands of Time.
Set immediately after the events on the Island of Time, the Prince returns to Babylon with Kaileena, who he saved from the Dahaka after bringing her to the present.[note 1] Upon arrival, the Prince discovers the city is under siege by the Scythians. The Scythian army manning the walls of the city attack the boat as it enters the harbor. The boat is destroyed, separating the Prince from Kaileena. Kaileena drifts inland where she is kidnapped before the Prince can reach her. The Prince follows her captors through the ruined city, reflecting on the destruction of lives taking place below the rooftops.
The Prince follows the Scythians and Kaileena back to the Tower of Babel, the royal palace of king Sharaman. As he travels up through the lower levels of the palace, he overhears Kaileena's abductor, recounting the events that led to his gaining possession of the Dagger of Time, killing the Maharajah of India and attacking Babylon in Persia. The Prince makes an attempt to rescue Kaileena from the Vizier, but fails when he is halted by Mahasti, one of the Vizier's generals. The Prince realizes, because he has changed the past, the Vizier never died by his hand.
The Vizier explained that he accompanied the Maharajah to the Island of Time and discovered the empty Hourglass of Time, Staff, Dagger of Time and a collection of books that detailed stories of the Empress of Time. Believing he was commanded by the Dagger to travel to Babylon, the Vizier learned that it would grant him eternal life if he had the Empress of Time. The Vizier traveled to Babylon to await the Prince's arrival, knowing he would return with Kaileena.
The Prince is unable to prevent Kaileena's death and can only watch her die. The Sands of Time are released into the city, infecting not only the Prince, but the general populace and the Scythians. The Vizier stabs himself with the Dagger and gains the power of immortality: He renames himself "Zurvan, the God of Time".
As the Sands of Time corrupts all Babylon the Prince is able to escape in the chaos and acquires the Dagger of Time. He plummets into the sewer system of the city, his left arm infected by the Sands.
Taking Back Babylon
During his journey, the Prince learns his infected arm is part of his darker persona, who eggs him on to seek vengeance against the Vizier for killing Kaileena and destroying his kingdom. At random intervals, the Dark Prince finds a way to take control of the Prince and does as he wills.
Through a series of accidental events, the Prince is reunited with Farah, the daughter of the late Maharajah who was taken prisoner by the Vizier alongside her subjects. Farah, he realizes, remembers nothing of their previous adventure because of the changed timeline, and tries to win her trust. While reluctant, Farah does begin to trust the Prince. However, as he approaches his goal to kill the Vizier, Farah questions his loyalty to the people suffering in Babylon. When the Prince fails to see reason and inadvertently drives Farah away once she realizes his revenge is more important to, and she sees him following the transformation into the Dark Prince.
The Prince pursues Farah through the city, attempting to regain her trust. Farah remains distrustful, always reminding the Prince that his people and the nation's peace comes first compared to the simple and arrogant desire for vengeance against the Vizier. When the two are close enough within the tower to reach Zurvan, he kidnaps Farah and knocks the Prince down into the palace's old well. When the Dark Prince takes control, he is unable to return to his human form. In full control, the Dark Prince mocks the Prince's ever decision, believing him weak. When the Prince discovers the body of his father and his sword, the Dark Prince continues to mock him. The Prince, finally realizing that his childish and arrogant behavior created the circumstances around him, decides to face the consequences of his previous actions and drives the Dark Prince's voice away.
Escaping the old well, the Prince faces off against the Vizier's new form. After a difficult battle, the Prince rescues Farah and kills the Vizier using the Dagger of Time. Freed from the Vizier, the Sands of Time are stripped from the populace and the Scythians, and merged into the likeness of Kaileena. She thanks the Prince for the kindness he showed her and the Prince returns to her the Dagger of Time. Kaileena removes the last bit of the Sands that infected the Prince before departing to find a world safe enough for her to live in.
Fighting the Dark Prince
Shortly following the departure of Kaileena, the Prince and Farah hear a strange ringing. The Prince sees his crown, but when he goes to pick it up, the Dark Prince, dressed in a dark cloak, takes picks up the crown as his own. Desiring the kingdom of Babylon for himself, the Dark Prince attacks the Prince and the two falls into a mysterious mental realm.
In the mental realm, the Prince tries to eliminate the Dark Prince. The Dark Prince accuses the Prince of letting the power of time go. The Prince tells him that he no longer wants power, nor agrees with the Dark Prince's ideas. The Prince passes through many places from his past. He arrives on a platform with two thrones on it.
Suddenly, Farah appears and tells the Prince to leave this place of evil. Everywhere on the platform there are clones of the Dark Prince, who laugh at the Prince. The Prince decides to follow Farah and climbs the steps leading out of the realm. The Dark Prince begins to panic and left behind. When the Price escapes the mental realm, he wakes up on the roof beside of Farah. As they talk about everything that has happened, Farah asks the Prince how he really knew her name. In response, the Prince decides to tell her his tale from when it really began.
The Two Thrones combines the exploration and combat of The Sands of Time and Warrior Within, making use of the Prince's acrobatic capability and agility throughout much of the game. The player must attempt to traverse the palace and city by running across walls, traveling chasms by jumping back and forth between walls, avoiding traps, climbing structures and jumping from platform to platform, making other types of well-timed leaps, solving puzzles, and using discovered objects to progress. The Prince is able to launch himself off walls at 45-degree angles at strategically placed vertical shutters, slide down chutes, and balance on swinging poles, among other things.
During combat, many of the same moves vital to the player in other situations can be put to use to overpower enemies. An example is the ability of the Prince to rebound off walls in order to strike enemies decisively. The player generally attacks enemies and blocks using a dagger, although other objects/factors, such as the Dagger of Time and its time-control abilities eventually prove to be critical to victory.
The Two Thrones builds upon the "Free Form Fighting System" introduced in Warrior Within. Like the previous game, the Prince can use over seventeen secondary weapons taken from weapon racks and enemies faced during the game. As before, weapons were designed to break over a period of time to maintain variety in the Prince's weapons of choice.
Additionally, a pseudo-stealth mechanic, Speed Kill, was included in the game. Instead of merely being able to do more damage when striking without being seen, The Two Thrones uses the Speed Kill, which allows the Prince to kill his enemies without being scene. If the player does not complete the speed kill, the enemy knocks him off and must be fought traditionally. The amount of moves or the length of time required depends on how strong the opponents are. The Speed Kill is also implemented in some of the major boss battles.
Attempting to realize the Prince's dual personalities, the Free Form Fighting System creates two different tiers for the Prince and Dark Prince to use. The Prince uses a modified version of the aggressive playstyle seen in Warrior Within. The player is still allowed to use secondary weapons, and the advantage of the environment around them. As the Dark Prince, the player loses the ability to wield a secondary weapons, instead wielding only the "Daggertail", a bladed whip fused to his arm. This allows medium range combat moves and new interactions with the environment during puzzle segments. The Daggertail allows the Dark Prince a different button combination for speed kills, in which he strangles his victims.
The Dark Prince constantly loses health as a result of his transformation. The Dark Prince's health is managed by using the Sands of Time from destructible environments and enemies killed. The Prince's health is manageable with the use of save fountains, as they did in Warrior Within. Coming into contact with water will allow the Prince to return to normal.
A newer element in The Two Thrones was that of chariot races. During certain levels, the Prince would be required to escape or pursue an enemy by chariot through obstacle course that could destroy his chariot. Enemies can climb aboard the Prince's chariot and attempt to pull the Prince off of it, and the player can dislodge them from the chariot using the environment.
As Kindred Blades
- Main article: Prince of Persia: Kindred Blades
Following the completion of Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, Yannis Mallat and the development team that worked on the game proceeded into the planning stages of its sequel, “Prince of Persia 3: Kindred Blades”, without break in the production.
While Mallat acknowledged the critical reception of Warrior Within in comparison to The Sands of Time, the development pushed to move the final game closer to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Mallat’s intention was always to unite the tone and design of The Sands of Time and Warrior Within to create what was then called “Kindred Blades”.
The original story maintained the darker tone of Warrior Within. Upon returning to his home in Babylon, the Prince and Kaileena discover the kingdom is under siege by an unknown enemy, who presumably would’ve been revealed as the Vizier based on early concept art of the character. The Prince is captured, and Kaileena chooses to sacrifice herself to re-release the Sands of Time to save him.
The Prince is transformed by the Sands in such a way that they begin to corrupt his heart. His darkness is personified in a white haired “Dark Prince” who takes control of the "Light Prince"’s body. Hunted across the rooftops and streets of his home by his own army, the Prince must not only fight the enemy threatening to take control, but himself as well.
The original story did not appear to include Farah and would presumably never address her fate despite her appearance in the “canon ending” of the game.
One design element with regard to the "Dark Price" was the nature of his transformation. One early idea the developers worked with was the idea of fire. Whenever the "Light Prince" needed to transform into the "Dark Prince", he would start a fire and the agony of the fire would release the Sands of Time, allowing the transformation to take place.
The "Light Prince" would only regain control if the "Dark Prince" stepped into water. As the "Dark Prince", a halo of light would remain as a constant presence around his body. The world around the "Dark Prine" would gradually become more "sandy" and "grainy" as the game progressed; a conceptual way to represent how Sand Creatures saw the world around them.
Mallat placed emphasis on the fact that the Prince could not rewind time and change the past as he did in The Sands of Time and Warrior Within, and that "Kindred Blades" would see a “more mature” version of the Prince that was not offered in the previous two games.
As The Two Thrones
As the game neared completion, the story and tone had changed a second time. The story shifted from the primarily focusing on the Prince's struggle with his dual personality and seeking revenge for Kaileena's death, to re-focus on the consequences of Prince’s repeated attempts to change the past.
The narrative, once again written by Corey G. May, included how the consequences of his actions had impacted not only on himself, but the people of his homeland of Babylon and people that he encountered previously, such as Farah, his father, Sharaman and the Vizier. Kaileena would still die, but would narrate the events of the game in a fashion similar to the Prince in The Sands of Time.
In an interview with Jean-Christophe Guyot, Guyot explained that one of the aims of The Two Thrones was to have the Prince experience what the Sands of Time did to humans when they were transformed into Sand Creatures.
The Dark Prince represented the Prince's darker persona corrupted by the Sands, and brought into question which side of himself would dominate him in the end. The mood of The Two Thrones would settle between Warrior Within and The Sands of Time, but would stick closer to the "interesting storytelling" and "flavor" of The Sands of Time.
Setting and Design
When designing the sequel, Mallat and his development team set the game in the home of the Prince, Babylon. Wanting to build upon the gameplay advancements made in Warrior Within, The Two Thrones employed a larger gameplay environment than the Island of Time.
When designing the look of Babylon, Leonardi explained that Middle Eastern cities ---Cairo, Egypt, the Medinas in Marrakesh and Casablanca, Morocco --- were a major reference point. Babylon was designed with massive rooftop and underground levels that employed backtracking and puzzle elements that would work to advantages of the Prince and the Dark Prince’s aggressive or acrobatic playstyles.
In The Two Thrones, the Tower of Babel --- the royal palace and home of the Prince --- was created to be the centerpiece of the game, one that would remain in the mindseye of the player as they progressed through Babylon. Leonardi explained that the development team wanted to stray away from the design set forth by European artists of the sixteenth century to create a "original tower". The they designed the tower in two parts; the first level was the defensive, designed to resemble tree bark and meant to protect it from enemy attacks and sandstorms. The second level was the royal palace, which was designed with open terraces and living spaces.
The Two Thrones was officially announced March 2005, under the working title “Prince of Persia 3”. The game, alongside “Ghost Recon 3” was scheduled for a third quarter release between the months of October and December.  A French website, “Jeux-France.com”, made further confirmation of Ubisoft’s official announcement of the sequel for the Warrior Within, along with storyline details.  Ubisoft also launched a teaser website which featured the early concept artwork for the Prince and the Dark Prince. The official website did not relaunch as a complete product until November 2005.
The following month, “Prince of Persia 3” was among the games announced to make an appearance at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Early gameplay footage at E3 2005 revealed the game’s new signature move, the “Speed Kill”, which allowed the Prince to pull off lethal stealth moves. The reception of the gameplay and trailer presented at E3 2005 was mixed, garnering questions about the survival of Kaileena and the whereabouts of Farah. Despite this, the developers thought the reception the demo received during its three day presentation allowed them to gauge the feedback properly.
Mallat promised that the game would explain the lack of continuity between the games and complete the trilogy. August 16, 2005, promotion began to focus on the return of the supporting characters from The Sands of Time and Warrior Within. Additionally, clearer information was provided for the Dark Prince and his role in game. August 18, 2005, "Prince of Persia 3" was presented at the Leipzig Games Convention, with a reaffirmation of the story so far and another presentation of the game's new "Speed Kill" feature.
September 2005, the game was re-revealed again as Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones and retailed at $49.99. November 3, 2005, the game was given a release date for December 1, 2005. To promote both the game and the soundtrack, the score for The Two Thrones was given to players who pre-ordered the game. Additionally, IGN.com provided three preview tracks on their website to listen to.
A major change with The Two Thrones saw the removal of the licensed music from Godsmack. Ubisoft Montreal instead saw the collaboration between composers Stuart Chatwood (the original composer for The Sands of Time) and Inon Zur, the composer of Warrior Within. The soundtrack was recorded at the Eastwood Scoring Stage on Warner Bros. Studios with Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra. Simon Pressey worked on The Two Thrones as the game's Artistic Audio Director.
August 22, 2005, Ubisoft announced the cast voicing the characters; Yuri Lowenthal would return to voice the Prince a second time since The Sands of Time. It was initially announced that Robin Atkin Downes (who voiced the Prince in Warrior Within) would voice the Dark Prince, however, comedian Rick Miller would take up the role. Previously, the Dark Prince had been voiced by Michael Rudder in the canonical ending of Warrior Within. Returning characters Farah, Kaileena, and Vizier were recast; the Vizier was voiced by Harry Standjofski, Helen King provided the voice of Farah, and Sarah Carlsen would replace Monica Bellucci as Kaileena.
Ports to other Systems
Like Warrior Within and The Sands of Time, Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones was developed as a multi-platform game, made available to all four sixth generation consoles during its initial release in December of 2005 and the PC December 2005. As with previous two games, each version of The Two Thrones varied depending on the console.
In terms of graphical presentation, the PC and GameCube versions of The Two Thrones sported stronger dynamic lighting; the GameCube version of the game also may have shared assets with the PC version on account of brighter textures and lightning in that version alone. The PC version of the game sported the highest resolution textures and graphics out of all of the versions, its presentation was sharper and cleaner on account of its output abilities compared to consoles.
the Xbox version of The Two Thrones suffered from compression issues, most notably in its cinematic presentation. Pre-rendered cutscenes were said to look "washed-out". Additionally the cinematics were presented in fullscreen and not widescreen. Both the PC and Xbox used a "reflective effect" to give environments or lighting an "extra sheen".
While assets are similar across all platforms, but varying detail in character models was something noted as unlikely. The PlayStation 2 and GameCube versions of The Two Thrones were considered the weakest in terms of overall presentation, particularly in terms of framerate whereas the Xbox and PC remained steady in this area.
- Main article: Prince of Persia: Rival Swords
Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones was re-released April 3, 2007 in North America for the PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo Wii. Rival Swords was a direct port of The Two Thrones and featured little changes to the overall game beyond reassignment of control schemes for the PSP and the Wii's Wii Remote. Unlike The Two Thrones, Rival Swords was rated "T for Teen" by the ESRB on account of the fact that the blood and gore in the game had been toned down considerably for younger audiences. Rival Swords received mixed to average reviews upon its release.
Following the initial "end" of The Sands of Time Trilogy, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within and Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, were featured in two "compilation" releases for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PC. The first, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Trilogy was initially released a year following the release of Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, October 27, 2006 in Europe. It was later released in the North America, January 12, 2009 on the PC. November 21, 2008, all three games later were released on the Valve Corporation platform, Steam.
Prince of Persia Trilogy HD Collection also included all three console games as a part of PlayStation 3's Classics HD collection. The remastered collection was released on November 19, 2010 on Blu-ray in PAL regions. The Sands of Time was later released in North America as downloadable titles only for the PlayStation Network's store November 16, 2010. Prince of Persia: Warrior Within followed December 16, 2010. The Blu-ray version was originally planned for a March 22, 2011 release, but the collection then ended up being delayed until April 19, 2011.
The Two Thrones and its 2007 port, Rival Swords received positive to mixed reviews. GameRankings and Metacritic gave it a score of 86.45% and 85 out of 100 for the PlayStation 2 version; 86.35% and 85 out of 100 for the Xbox version;  85.25% and 84 out of 100 for the GameCube version;  82.81% and 85 out of 100 for the PC version;  82.40% for the mobile version; 71.22% and 70 out of 100 for the Wii version;  and 70.44% and 74 out of 100 for the PSP version. 
IGN gave the PC version 9 out of 10, saying, "Two Thrones is great. The story is cool, the heroes are likable, the weak are pitiable, the villains are bastards, the major plot points are exciting, the art is grand, the sound is wonderful...and then the gameplay comes." GameSpy gave it four stars on all platforms except the PSP and Wii versions, saying of the PC version, "All of [the] settings, without exception, are stunning. As might be expected, the sharper, more detailed graphics for the PC version of the game are the clear winner when compared with the consoles, especially at higher resolutions." GameSpot gave the PC version 8.4 out of 10.
The A.V. Club gave the game an A− and stated: "The nice thing about sequels to successful games is that all the rough edges are buffed out, and The Two Thrones honors its graceful hero with impeccable controls and design." Maxim gave it a score of eight out of ten and said that the game "gets points for cribbing Sam Fisher's stealth skills and using a whip-like weapon that will send "God of War" fans scurrying to gaming chat rooms to voice their displeasure with the similarities. Thankfully, the controversy is worth it for this energetic adventure." The Times gave it a favorable review and said, "The graphics are superb, especially on the Xbox, and if you can cope with the frustration of replaying tricky scenes again and again, this could be the game for you."
The Sydney Morning Herald also gave it four stars out of five and stated that "One of the best new features is the Speed Kill, a stealth attack that requires timed button presses for successful take-downs - a brilliant addition to the already exhilarating game play." Detroit Free Press gave the PS2 version three stars out of four and said, "The fighting in The Two Thrones is superb. The prince has a nice array of combination moves that accompany his acrobatic skills. But the signature part of combat is the speed kill, which allows you some nifty and gruesome stealth kills." However, Charles Herold of The New York Times gave it an average review and stated that "I felt all the considerable pleasure the game had given me had been taken back."
- ↑ The canon ending of the game. Can be unlocked after obtaining all nine Upgrade Pedestals and the Water Sword is used.