For Prince of Persia fans who’ve been waiting patiently for a new game, I’m delighted to finally be able to share this piece of good news: After two years of development at Ubisoft’s Pune and Mumbai studios, a faithful, modern-gen remake of The Sands of Time will be released on January 21, 2021, for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
I didn't take an active role in the remake (making The Sands of Time once was enough), but the team kept me in the loop, beginning with their first question two years ago: What things did you and the POP team cut or compromise in the original game that you’d most wish to see added?
Last week, I played a recent build. It gave me tingles. I was relieved to discover that my gameplay reflexes and level-map memories of fifteen years ago are still valid, letting me fluidly navigate a newly-rendered game world that's lush, sensual, and immersive in ways the Montreal team and I could only dream of in 2003.
The remake team aimed to update the experience to meet modern gamers’ expectations, but without bending it so far as to contradict our memories. To my taste, they’ve hit the target. Although rebuilt from the ground up with new assets and engine, the story, gameplay, level design, and dialog are faithful to the original.
One of my top wish-list items was to remake the cinematics. The script and voice acting were always solid, but the POP team and I had been disappointed by the FMV production values even in 2003. The introductory sequences especially should evoke an epic, populated, sensual, authentically Persian (and Indian) world, so that we feel the distance traveled between the kingdoms, and the devastation wrought by the sands. The India team embraced this mission.
I gave them notes on what I'd like to see, but I didn’t ask to change a word of dialog. My present-day contribution was to put the team in touch with Yuri Lowenthal, a first-class actor and friend since we met in an L.A. recording studio 18 years ago. Somehow, his voice still sounds like he’s 22. Yuri was thrilled to recreate his signature role on a state-of-the-art performance capture sound stage, and to finally hold in his hands an actual (well, wooden and duct-taped) Dagger of Time.
I’ve only played a few levels. I’ll save the full experience for when the game releases in January. I’m excited to play The Sands of Time from start to finish for the first time since I laid down my PS2 playtesting controller seventeen years ago -- exhausted, anxious, hopeful, knowing it was time to ship. I hope you’ll join me.