After months of rumors and leaks, Ubisoft finally unveiled Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake yesterday, and reaction has been…mixed. While the remake looks to retain the story and gameplay of the original, many have criticized the quality of the game’s visual update. As you can see in the video comparison below, the Prince of Persia remake is clearly an improvement on the original, but it arguably isn’t quite up to modern Ubisoft standards.
So, why does the new Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time look the way it does? The Mako Reactor got in contact with Pierre Sylvain-Gires, who is heading up the remake at Ubisoft India. According to him, the look of the PoP remake is largely a stylistic choice…
If you take the game that was made 17 years ago, there’s definitely room for improvement in terms of [graphics] and we really wanted to give a unique look to the game because Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is actually is a fantasy story. […] So we decided to go for a unique visual treatment to make this game standout from other games. It’s not another Assassin’s Creed, it’s not like the same Prince of Persia from 2008. It has to be unique. This magic, this fantasy is shown through the saturation, through the light, so it also a challenge to redefine the visual identity of the game with this remake.
While wanting to give the PoP remake a fantasy feel may explain some of the game’s visual choices, there definitely seem to be some technical issues at play as well. For this part, Sylvain-Gires insists its not an issue of budget or resources, as the remake is a full-fledged Ubisoft production.
It was not a problem of timeline or budget. For us at Ubisoft quality is of the utmost importance and this is something that we have kept in mind from the start. The project has been in development for the last two and a half years. We have had at peak 170 members working on this project and not to mention other investments in infrastructure and set up to make a modern game. No there have not been any cutback in budget or timeline for the game.
One thing Sylvain-Gires does admit is that the Anvil Engine, which is used to power the Assassin’s Creed games, isn’t particularly well-suited to a fast-paced linear action-adventure game like Prince of Persia. Apparently the Prince’s time-manipulation powers were particularly hard to make work in the engine. If there’s a smoking gun here, I’m guessing that may be it – Ubisoft India had to spend a lot of time figuring out how to bend the Anvil Engine to their will, and maybe couldn’t focus on the visuals as a result.
Update: In another new interview with Gadgets 360, Sylvain-Gires promises the game will be further polished before launch. The article also features this screenshot, which seems to show somewhat more natural lighting and rendering…
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Remake wall runs onto PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on January 21. The game's website seems to indicate a Nintendo Switch version is also on the way, but Ubisoft has yet to confirm that. What do you think? Excited for the PoP remake, even if it isn’t the prettiest game of the season?