Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
A perfectly representative review of the first thirty minutes of the game


For an ass it was, not a rear, a butt, or a bum; words that might imply mundanity, or a purpose beyond desire. A painstakingly feminine ass jutted out of the opening cinematic of Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, with a one-inch strip of metal pretending that pornography required the sphincter, and I understood how much was lost.

Warrior Within is the sequel to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, itself a recreation of Prince of Persia. Now, 15 years before any of this, Prince of Persia stopped Mario from seeming like a hotshot for having two kinds of jumps. The main character moved like a human being, clinging to ledges, jumping three meters from a run, dying from any considerable fall. Players were delighted by what they could make the character do. Skillfully overcoming these familiar restrictions was more meaningful than the cartoon superpowers found in most games.

Sands of Time could not impress by recreating the moves - progress had been made - so it was made to recreate the delight. The Prince moved like a parkour artist, running along walls, swinging on poles. Prince of Persia was also a product of its time, a game that could be completed in thirty minutes, but impossible to complete at all except by honed skill: a gauntlet of traps and sudden death. Horrible in a modern title. This was remade into a palace that was beautiful even as it crumbled, and the Prince was given a way to rewind time a few seconds, making most murderous deathtraps a pleasure to traverse and enhancing a slightly unreal storybook atmosphere. But the wondrous gameplay of the series was not where the buttocks struck, not in full force.

Sands of Time was not afflicted with a gruff, grizzled protagonist, already unusual for an action game. The cocky Prince tried, but was just too self-conscious to manage and came across as adorable. There was also a woman (a realistically proportioned woman! Though not amply clothed), somehow an equal partner of the Prince in a medium where "escort" means "millstone." Theirs was a budding romance oddly free of melodrama: instead of interrupting the game to brood upon their feelings or fall into the other's arms, they merely found themselves on a journey where they had to trust each other to survive. At a time when soaring production costs have caused big-name video games to be dominated by breast \ explosion ensembles, the two felt like adults. Two strong-willed young adults growing together through their shared trials.

The one thing Sands of Time lacked was sales.

I'd read that Warrior Within would take on a more mature tone to broaden its appeal. I'd seen that the loading screen was now a waterfall of blood, and a palette that was a skillful mixture of grays and browns. I'd heard the band Godsmack as they replaced ethereal Arabian Nights music. As the opening cinematic progressed I'd seen (though not processed) that the Prince had invested into black eyeliner and otherwise let himself go, and that he came into view defying a storm - not only in the sense of sailing in one but in the sense of "Ha! In your face, insensate natural phenomenon!" Then:


Ass in abundance. The female antagonist was introduced through a six-second shot of her ass in its mostly hypothetical metal thong, swaying worse than a racewalker's. It was the first thing shown of her. She probably had a name, but this proud display of hypothermia was all that one needed to know. And I realized that this was the way characters would work in Warrior Within.

I did go on to actually play the game. Now, Sands of Time did have combat, but mostly for a change of pace and to replenish the Sands that fueled time hijinks. The main enemy was the environment. Warrior Within opened with a bloodbath that was everything you might imagine. Things bled that probably didn't have blood. The Prince's rage erupted into canned insults. Obscenities let slower players know that these were grown-ups. Afterward the number of battles fell to plentiful, and the death-defying parkour resumed. It was not accompanied by the rewind ability, the thing it needs to work, for some time. After having "YOU ARE DEAD" painted on the screen in escaping crimson life fluid maybe half a dozen times, I called it a day.

I checked online on what I'd find if I continued. There would be dazzling architecture, but I would not stop to admire the view, like I did last time. Not when it was populated by sultry ninja women moaning about "so much pleasure in pain." There would be plenty of the graceful acrobatic gameplay, but I'd be making my way towards a generic sex scene of an ending that conveyed nothing of the passion or emotions of the characters, and the acrobatics belonged in a game that used the stroking of hair as an intimate act.

The ass had been hoisted, and I slunk away.