Monty and Morgion 116: Red-Silk Hotties

07Jan05 (Monthenor): Another Prince of Persia game means another shot at Yorda. This time the venom isn't quite as strong as we have yet another female character to compare her to.

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within: This game introduces us to the Empress of Time, a bazoonga-wielding vamp with a yen for predestination. I will review her later, but I bet you can guess from the comic. Firstly, the game. The game is awesome. Despite everything I'm about to type, you should play this game once you finish Sands of Time.

I don't hate the game as much as Penny Arcade did, though I do agree with their basic points. One, that Prince of Persia has been seized by corporations and twisted into a hideous "XTreem" form. Two, that the core gameplay remains intact. After I got used to the way combat buffered my button-mashing (answer: horribly) I could take advantage of the simplistic enemy AI and cut these violent wastes of time in half. Far too many times I had to tell groups of angry sand people "Sorry, no, I'm just here for the jumping." seconds before brutally decapitating them.

That's right, decapitation. That's just one of the symptoms of the eXTreeeeem makeover. Enemies inexplicably bleed despite being made of magic sand. The Prince has added brutal gutting and decapitation to his returning vertical cleaving. Getting within five hundred yards of any enemy triggers Godsmack mode, which is like Slow Motion mode except instead of helping you fight it instead annoys the crap out of you and makes you wish you could turn down the music volume and still hear the cutscenes. Ahem.

These design choices seemed bizarre and shallow, a change on the order of Tony Hawk 4 becoming Tony Hawk Underground, until I finished the game and saw the developer interview videos. One designer had the same armband tattoo as the Prince, along with a small mohawky-thing and a pierced lip. Another praised the art direction before segueing into some bullshit about making the Prince "more mature". Mature in that limited XTeream definition of whiny and brooding.

And now we come to the Empress. I can almost see the committee behind the Empress character. "People loved Farah," they said. "We should definitely keep the red-silk royal hottie...but is it possible to make her less useful, less witty, AND give her bigger boobs?" The Empress answers yes to all these questions. Checklist forthcoming:

FarahEmpress of Time
Revealing red silk outfit?YesVery Yes
Weapon(s)LongbowTwin swords
CharacterizationYesLast 30 minutes only
WitYesNot even close

So, compared to this giant step backwards in the female lead, Yorda doesn't sound quite so bad anymore. I won't say that the cutscenes are horrible, or that the prospect of PoP3 -- hopefully subtitled "Two Princes" -- isn't appealing. In particular, the "good" ending (a.k.a. the "hot" ending) sets up one hell of a cliffhanger that has me eager to get my hands on their next game. I'm saying that the great story is inhabited by really bad characters, and somebody should put their foot down for a return to PoP1's depth in the writing department. Maybe if they don't spend so many goddamn dollars on Godsmack licensing...

Enough of that, just rent it already. Now for something completely different.

Who the hell is stalking me? I've posted before about the wind chime. Just a few weeks ago we also received Paper Jesus in the mail, and I just now realized I didn't post about it. Paper Jesus was part of a proselytizing mail that we received late last year, urging us to kneel on Jesus' face and let our prayer soak into his wood-pulped visage. We would then mail the Paper Jesus back to the church and they would pass his prayer-energized form on to the next needy family.

And just now, just today, I recieved one of these. Somebody out there has our address and knows precisely what we don't want. Actually my greatest fear is not some malevolent prankster enemy, but a mailing list that has reached from the ether and seized my name with its clammy tentacles.

One last thing: Morgion sent me a link to a short blurb about Air Force research into gay-making aphrodisiac weapons. My campus job is facing a grant shortage very shortly, but I think I can solve that. Hey Air Force! I have an idea for a beatiality laser ray that will the enemy forces totally hot for sheep. Give me two million dollars.

We'll call it the "Montananator".