The Sands of Time series is easily the best set of games out of the entire Prince of Persia Franchise. And while the first game, The Sands of Time, has a remake on the way despite a handful of developmental problems and multiple delays, we can’t help but remain hopeful that Warrior Within will someday follow with a Remake of its own.
While we sit back and wait for Ubisoft to get their act together and hopefully deliver on The Sands of Time Remake, we decided to revisit the original trilogy and just beat the first two. Sure, the original Sands of Time was fun but it doesn’t even remotely compare to its successor and sequel, Warrior Within.
Violent, dark, and full of mystery, Warrior Within is one of the greatest games of the PS2 era and after having replayed it, despite a handful of bugs and limitations with compatibility on current hardware, it still holds up surprisingly well.
Set seven years after its predecessor, the story follows the Prince as he searches for a way to stop an entity called the Dahaka that is relentlessly pursuing him as punishment for his meddling with the Sands of Time. He travels to the mysterious Island of Time, where he attempts to prevent the Empress of Time from creating the Sands in the first place, hoping this act will appease the Dahaka.
Warrior Within came out in 2004 and was made available for a handful of platforms including PS2, Xbox, GameCube, and PC. It was later ported to the PSP in 2005 under a new title, Prince of Persia Revelations and then to the iPhone in 2010. Of course, the best experience still remains to have been on the PlayStation 2 but with some tweaking and modifications, can run well enough on PCs in compatibility mode.
We started our Warrior Within replay on PS2 a couple of weeks ago but experienced a handful of technical difficulties before settling on the Steam version on a rather beefy PC. Unfortunately, that too had some issues but eventually, we got it to work and played through it using an Xbox One X controller. And, despite having better graphics on PC, we found the game nearly unplayable without using a gamepad as M&K felt so unnatural, we couldn’t find the sweet spot in the controls and gave up on that almost immediately.
Once we got into the game, we immediately were hit with a massive typhoon of nostalgia. The visuals, the fluidity of combat, the dark setting and tones, along with a treacherous environment filled to the brim with enemies and traps, it was exactly how we remembered. It was perfect.
You see, as a kid, back when you could buy a game and that was that, without any DLCs or microtransactions or updates, the game was simply complete. You could sit down and experience a single-player campaign without any distractions, without worry, and without any interference from a company that wanted to nickel and dime the hell out of you and your wallet. Weekends could be dedicated to beating those games after many hours into those late nights accompanied by Doritos, Mountain Dew, and a short break to watch Inuyasha or Outlaw Star on Toonami before jumping right back in.
Maybe that is all a little too specific but I am sure at least some of you can relate.
Warrior Within, among a handful of other titles, was our escape. Seeing the Prince deal with a variety of unique traversal puzzles while figuring out just who or what the Sand Wraith was while trying to escape the monstrous Dahaka’s advances were moments that brought us back. Not many games these days can help us relive our childhood but Warrior Within is among the exceptional.
Combat still felt good, too. Being able to jump back and forth and slice through enemies as they occasionally left orbs of Sand behind usually felt solid and made us feel like we were pros at controlling the Prince, even though it was obvious that the game was doing most of the work. Once in a while, though, we experienced those limitations of the era and would slip up or make a mistake that would be fatal, causing the Prince to jump away from an enemy and off a ledge or a cliff. Doing that, while low on Sand, was a frustrating experience, to say the least, but that is simply due to our lack of skill.
That sad, there were a handful of times where the game’s choice to force us to lock on to enemies when we simply wanted to get by and run up a wall to move on really got in the way of our sense of freedom. Unfortunately, the game does not give the player the choice to engage in combat and when an enemy gets close, the Prince automatically pulls out his weapon to signal that it was go time. The only way to get out of it is to find a reasonable distance between the Prince and the enemy which oftentimes wasn’t an option. If you wanted to run up a wall and grab onto a ledge to get to the next area to avoid a pointless fight, you couldn’t, as the Prince would leap away from the wall to the nearest target rather than the direction you wanted. This happened far more often than we would have liked but, once we got used to it, we were able to deal accordingly.
BUGS, BUGS, BUGS
Warrior Within had a handful of bugs on consoles but there were far too many that were exclusive to PCs. Fans of the game had to take it upon themselves to fix or address these in a variety of fan-mods that we used to make the game playable. This all has to do with Ubisoft’s lack of care and attention to the PC version, having left so many behind after a rather underwhelming port, despite many pleas for fixes from players in reviews on the Steam page. Why Ubisoft chose to abandon support for the game, especially when the fixes seemed simple enough to fix by fans, is anyone’s guess. But it likely amounts to not wanting to spend the time, money, and or resources to do so, if we had to guess. That said, after some light tweaking to the game’s files, such as the widescreen fix, a few texture packs, and then some, we got the game to work almost perfectly, aside from any bugs that carried over from consoles.
NON-CANON vs CANON ENDING?
This was something that shocked the hell out of me, personally. Having beaten the game a few times back in the day, and having been the one to beat it recently on PC, I was used to only one ending. This ending, which I later found out was non-canon, featured the Prince killing Kaileena and having any and all remnants of the Sand absorbed by the Dahaka, leaving the Prince to head back home to a city on fire.
I never knew that was a non-canon ending.
Because I never played The Two Thrones, a game I just started immediately after, I didn’t understand just how the Prince managed to arrive home with Kaileena alive along with the Sand medallion thing. And, after looking at the Prince of Persia Wiki, I discovered that if the Prince managed to find all the life upgrades, he was rewarded with the Water Sword, a special weapon that he can use to defeat the Dahaka in combat and save Kaileena. This ending, the true ending, explains Kaileena being alive in The Two Thrones and shows that finding the life upgrades was a necessity. However, due to many players not knowing this, the intro to The Two Thrones addresses it in a weird way almost to say “yeah, we should have been more clear about all that nonsense” as many players would have been confused, myself included.
Warrior Within is actually one of a few games that motivated me to start my own YouTube channel. I figured I would go back, replay and review classics while talking about my original experiences when I played the game years ago the first time around. I was shocked at how bad I was at WW at first, having been spoiled by modern systems and controls that make gameplay easier and more fluid but eventually got the hang of things. I was frustrated with the controls for a bit as well but discovered I had a controller with a “stick drift” problem and after I replaced it, things felt solid.
The combat felt good but not against damage-sponges that took far too long to kill. The non-canon ending was the only one I was used to and had no idea that there was an alternate canon ending, something that I wish the game had made more clear before I began The Two Thrones. Visually, the game holds up surprisingly well for a title that came out nearly twenty years ago but some fan-made texture packs can spruce that up a little if it bothers you. In any case, I loved it as-is and only added some of the visual mods to make sure I could tell the difference between ledges you could grab onto and ledges you can’t.
PLEASE REMAKE IT
Despite my high praise, which Warrior Within is deserving after almost twenty years, I would love to see this game remade with enhanced visuals and bug fixes. Honestly, the only things I really want to see are bug fixes and tighter camera control as anything else would be a bonus as the game is great in every other way. The jumping, climbing, swinging, and wall-running feel like a modern game even to this day with only a few occasions where I felt the camera angle was probably my biggest enemy. The depth perception killed me more than anything else and camera angles threw me off when I was planning my jump direction. Somehow, the camera is the worst thing in the PC version as it felt like a physical object that constantly got in the way when I was trying to pan around and get a better look at almost everything I tried to see.
Check out our entire playthrough starting with the first episode:
With the above criticisms, the only other aspect of the game that needs to be considered is compatibility. Playing a 32-bit game definitely has a few downsides and I don’t know how much more time PC players have with it being supported, what with Windows 11 being pushed harder than ever. And considering not many have a PS2 handy these days, the only other option is emulation which also has a lot of issues with texture and sound quality.
What I am saying is this- if you can stomach a few bugs, Warrior Within runs great on PC, even if you have to install a few fan-made patches to make it run smoother. And while the game certainly doesn’t stand desperately needing a remake, I would love to see one because the original is an incredible game with only old hardware architecture holding it back. I want to see this game remade with new fans getting to experience it fresh for the first time as it might be a rather hard to sell to get those who have never played it to go through all that trouble to play such an old game.