First Prince of Persia 2 shots and details

Ubisoft Montreal apparently responds to criticism of the repetitive combat system in The Sands of Time, outlining aims for a new and unhinged alternative. Plus: first shots!

Although Ubisoft is keeping a lid on specifics, the French firm has started to tease us with details of Prince of Persia 2 - the working title for the follow-up to one of our favourite games of 2003, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - ahead of the game's debut at E3 next week.

Along with details of new mechanics and plot points, the publisher has released two screenshots, which reveal a rugged looking prince grasping twin blades and swinging at various hooded adversaries, all of whom lack the telltale glow of The Sands of Time.

Our first impression was that the Prince looks a lot more swashbuckling - vindicated somewhat by the second shot, which appears to be set on the deck of a ship, with rigging and broken masts tumbling in disarray, as various parties battle amidst the flames and shuddering timber. You can see both shots here.

On the details front, Ubisoft isn't packing any boring "improved AI" claims, either - in fact it seems that the Montreal development studio working on POP2 has taken on board just about our only criticism of the first game, by promising a new free-form combat system.

Again, we have to stress that details are thin on the ground, but by the sound of it you get to fight your way around using a number of handheld weapons and manipulating the environment to clobber adversaries. Whether you'll still have to plunge the Dagger of Time into them to seal their fate is not known at this point, but we somehow doubt Montreal has ditched the previous game's most celebrated feature.

There's also mention of fighting using "the Ravages of Time", which sounds like title material by our reckoning, although we have yet to hear what this actually means, nor how it relates to the Prince's new adventure, which sees him embark "on a path of both carnage and mystery to defy his preordained death," as he works his way to the heart of a cursed island "harbouring mankind's greatest fears."

We're expecting to hear a lot more about POP2 next week, and you can certainly expect to read our impressions of whatever Ubisoft has to show of the game. You can look forward to seeing Prince of Persia 2 at a retailer near you by the end of the year, likely enough on PS2, Xbox, Cube and PC, a possible repeat of last year's console exclusivity arrangement notwithstanding.

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