Free Game: Prince of Persia – Sands of Time

By Shamus
on Oct 5, 2007
Filed under:
Game Reviews

Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time, despite the heedless verbosity of the title, remains one of my favorite games. It’s not deep. It’s not elaborate. It’s certainly nowhere near an RPG. But it is fun and rewarding, with mostly low-key gameplay that encourages exploration and is forgiving of mistakes. (I was frustrated by later entries in this series, because they sometimes abandoned the formula that made this game so pleasant.)

I originally owned this game for the Gamecube, and when we sold the GC it I knew losing Prince of Persia was going to be the most grievous loss. I considered buying it again for the PC or for my recently acquired Playstation 2, but it seemed daft to spend money on a game I’d already beaten four or five times already. It’s a great game, but there isn’t that much replay value in it. It seemed like I’d be paying thirty bucks just for the comfort of having an old favorite on my shelf, or perhaps for one more trip through the traps for old time’s sake.

So I was really thrilled to see this: A full version of the game is now available for “free” in an ad-supported format. The idea is that you download the full thing free of charge, and occasionally during a break in the game it will show you a little commercial.

I found this a few weeks ago, and when I tried it out it only showed ads for McDonald’s. This seemed kind of odd. If the first four McDonald’s ads don’t make me hungry for a Big Mac, is ad #5 really that likely to change my mind? Last night I revisited the game in preperation for writing this post, and I played for an hour without seeing a single ad. It’s obvious this is an experiment, and they’re still working out the details. I actually like the idea that A-list games eventually become ad-supported freebies, in the same way that movies progress from theater, to DVD rental, to television.

The game supported my USB “Dual Shock” style controller, which let me recreate the control scheme I’d already learned. However, I found out I had to put down the controller and use the mouse to navigate the menus. Sigh. That’s about par for the course for console ports. If you come at the game fresh and bring your mouse / keyboard control paradigm with you things will most likely work without hassle.

It’s a great game, and might be worth a look if you don’t mind a little crass advertising, which may or may not show up. (The download screen also has some blurb about the game being US-only, but I don’t know how they enforce that or how relevant it really is to your ability to play the game. I’m not going to leave the country just to find out.)

Get it here.(1.1 GB)

UPDATE: Nevermind. They “discontinued the free trial”, which is an odd thing to say since they never gave any indication that this was a limited time offer. Anyway, it will let you download the game, but not activate it. Bad form guys, bad form.

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20204Feeling chatty? There are 44 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. Poet says:

    That is pretty sweet. I’ve always been a fan of the PoP games, and as great as The Sands time Time obviously was, I just never had a chance. Good catch.

  2. Carra says:

    Irony has it that I bought the trilogy a month ago.
    Bought it for around €7.5 and added a controller for €15.
    It’s a fun game and can play the two sequels when I’m done ;) The whole idea must be to let customers buy the two sequels.

  3. Carra says:

    Oh, forgot to mention:
    Rumor has it it only works in the US, us poor Europeans are screwed again.
    Obviously didn’t check it though.

  4. Cadrys says:

    MMm…ad-supported software classics.

    “This is Xerxes. Please remember to patronize our sponsors.”

  5. maehara says:

    Mmmm. Big Mac…
    ::goes for dinner::

    I vaguely remember playing PoP when I was much younger. I’d give this a go, if it weren’t for comments about it not being Europe-friendly. (Why? If all they’re showing is MacDonald’s ads.. we have ’em too!)

  6. Skip says:

    FWIW, the PoP games are also available on gametap, which is reasonably cheap.

  7. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Interesting,but Im not that interested in sands of time to play it again.But I do like the idea behind this and am looking forward to other games being converted into ad supported games.

  8. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    A horrific thought just came to mind:Imagine what wouldve happened if WoW was released like this a month before the first expansion came out!!!The only reason I never got hooked by it was that its so damn expensive,but this way…I sure do hope no one from blizzard reads this.

  9. Stark says:

    I’d bet that the gamne will run just fine in non-US locales. It’s probably just that the version they are distributing comes in US release flavor and has the US appropriate legal mumbo-jumbo and agreements and also has no foreign language support. They may have IP filtering to prevent download to a non-US site but I doubt it.

    Heck, it’s only a gig and a it’s a free download. Start the download and go to bed, try it in the morning – if it works you’re golden and if it doesn’t you haven’t lost anything!

  10. Daktylo says:

    Commercial supported games is not a new concept, but I think it is actually not too bad. I remember getting the original Hidden and Dangerous game a while back. Albeit it was a bit of a buggy game, it was really fun with four player co-op.
    The problem is, you always have that one guy on your team doing his own thing when you’re trying to clear out buildings as a team…sigh…

  11. Katy says:

    I agree that the second in the series wasn’t so great. Did you play the third, though? I *really* dug that one. I frankly enjoyed it just as much as the first one. Though you do have moments when you must go around as the Dark Prince, it’s MUCH easier to refill your lifebar than the water fountain thing for the Wraith in the second game.

  12. Shamus says:

    I actually linked to my review of PoP: Two Thrones above. Here it is again:

    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1119

  13. Kraven Ergiest says:

    The download’s not working for me – says something about disabling downloads until they get their IP address filter working. So, until they restrict downloading to America only, they’re not going to let anyone download it. Does that seem silly to anyone?

  14. Hal says:

    I’m not sure how well it works, but you can use XBOX360 controllers on a PC, so that might be a good controller to use. I wonder if it’s compatible, though.

    The only problem I can see with such a system is the slippery slope. Sure, for now you can play a free game as long as you’re watching the ads. Would hackers care enough to make a version that doesn’t make you watch ads? I dunno. But even more so, what’s to stop this from becoming a viable model for games you pay for? Imagine shelling out $50 for the game, only to be confronted with ads throughout. They might not even end up being subtle. I don’t play WoW, but I’d be ticked off if one of my quests was to fetch a Pepsi for some city leader.

  15. Samrobb says:

    Ugh. File Planet. I’d check this out, but it seems like they’ve decided that the PoP download is for paying customers only.

  16. Siobharek says:

    Is that it? I thought it was just us EuroTrash. Anyway, they’re using IP blocking, and I don’t know how to fake a US IP, so I guess I’m screwed.

  17. That is pretty dang cool.
    I have PoP:SoT for my Xbox and it is one my favorite games as well.
    Like you said, not deep, just good fun.

  18. Mari says:

    This is actually really funny to me because only last week some very old friends and I were complaining about advertising and media. See, for those of you too young to remember, we were all originally sold the concept of PAYING for “cable” tv on the premise that it wouldn’t have all those advertisements on it. Anybody remember that? So we started paying for tv and guess what? Now our paid for tele is riddled with as many ads as network programming, if not more.

    We used to be told that the juiced up prices for movie concessions were because there was no advertising to defray the difference between what people were willing to pay for tickets and what the theatre had to pay for the movie. Now if you get to the theatre before the movie starts you’re subjected to up to forty-five minutes of….advertising!

    How many of us ran out to buy satellite radio because it had no advertising? “All Eric Clapton All Day – Commercial Free” Except they’ve started introducing commercials to our commercial free Clapton, too!

    So I pitched in my nerd groan about popping PC video games into my drive and getting….commercials during install and while the game loaded! And now this. This is funny and painful all at the same time.

  19. Corsair says:

    Frankly, I wouldn’t mind a commercial in my games. God knows I spend enough times on load times that I could watch a short movie. They might not be quality, but at least they give me something to occupy my brain while it loads up or installs.

    Also, keep in mind that this is the other way around. You didn’t start off paying for no commercials and now you’re getting them, you swapped paying for commercials. I don’t really have a problem with that, as long as I don’t start being forced to wield a Gillette Mach III razor in combat with orcs.

  20. mark says:

    Its no longer available, at least to me in the UK. Seems they ARE concerned about non-US residents playing it. YOU SHOULD HAVE SAID SOONER, SHAMUS! DAMN YOU! :P

  21. Phlux says:

    I don’t really have a problem with this particular take on ad-supported gaming, as long as it takes place during breaks in action. The game industry needs (and this sounds weird to say) additional ways to make money on games. The cost of developing next generation games is huge, and it deters small companies and investors from getting into the market because if you don’t sell 400,000 copies you won’t make a dime.

    Hence why games go into the bargain bin. It introduces another round of buying, but it isn’t enough, and not enough people do it really. This might be a viable option for developers to make a buck on their older properties to help pay for newer ones.

    Some people are saying this will lead to ALL games having ads in them, even during their “first run”. I personally don’t think that’s likely, but I do think it could replace monthly fees for MMO type games, or at least supplement them.

  22. lxs says:

    Shamus… did you just say something nice about game publishers? :O

    You can get a 10-day free WoW trial you know.

  23. lxs says:

    btw wordpress keeps filtering my entertaining tags. That last post was supposed to have [satan][/satan]

  24. nilus says:

    for those outside the US trying to get the game. You can always just use a US proxy to get them. It will be slower but it should work. Websites like http://proxy.org have lists and lists of free proxies you can point your browser to. Just pick a US one and you should be able to download the game hasslefree

  25. foobario says:

    I loved the original PoP, and for my money Sands of Time was the peak of the franchise. Good to see it is still out there… much enjoyment from that game.

  26. foobario says:

    Mari:

    I remember. And I weep.

  27. Arthur says:

    It keeps kicking me to the Fileplanet homepage, even when I’m logged in. :\

  28. Lo'oris says:

    GREAT IDEA. I totally support it. A pity I hate that game.

  29. Robert says:

    Actually, the 5th ad might BE the one that gets you to go to a drive-through and pick up the burger. Marketing researchers have found that multiple exposures to the same ads do tend to eventually lead the viewer to give it a shot.

  30. Katy says:

    (Read the review) Hmm, even so, the only frustration I ever had with PoP III was trying to jump to this one beam while getting the final life upgrade. I couldn’t make that work for a while and was indeed quite frustrated to do the same work over and over again until I got it right.

    However, I have to give props for the inner voice of the Dark Prince. He was HILARIOUS. “Fall to your death! That’ll be of GREAT use to them!” The character of the Prince was still the charming one I remembered from the first game and he made up for that one section of frustration. Perhaps I rely enough on character development for DIAS gameplay to be only a mild detractor. And really, compared to other games, the third in PoP had relatively little DIAS sections. (I only did half of GTA because of DIAS gameplay.)

    Two bossfights and that one life upgrade were the only areas of frustation. I didn’t even have that *much* trouble with the last bossfight. Once you know the pattern for hitting the bad guy in the first section, you can retain a LARGE chunk of your sand for the rest of the fight and it doesn’t matter if he hits you a lot while jumping around the platforms.

  31. Joel says:

    Is there any way of getting this without going through file planet? I really don’t ever use file planet so I don’t see why I should sign up for them now…

  32. wildweasel says:

    “I don’t really have a problem with that, as long as I don’t start being forced to wield a Gillette Mach III razor in combat with orcs.”

    Actually, product placement is the kind of advertising I like. Think about it – it would be pretty hilarious to play through a role-playing game and have all of your beefy warrior’s equipment consist of things like a Black & Decker chainsaw, a DeWalt cordless drill, and for the humiliation factor, a Wagner spray painter.

  33. Marauder says:

    Alas, they’ll only work if you downloaded and activated them before Sept 6. I had trouble getting it to run before so put it off to play with other things, your post prompted me to give it another try and no such luck. :(
    http://ubisoft.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/ubisoft.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=12032

  34. Harvey says:

    Some tangentially related thoughts about how advertising works:

    http://badexample.mu.nu/archives/176178.php

  35. Traska says:

    Long-time lurker, first-time poster.

    You know, this is actually kind of ironically funny, if you think about it. Here you go, spending all that time (well-spent, I assure you!) talking about the online activation for Bioshock, and what if they stop supporting it… and you recommend a game that requires online activation, and they stop supporting it!

    Okay, maybe it’s only funny to *me*. But it does seem to prove the point, doesn’t it?

  36. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    36 Traska:

    “Okay, maybe it’s only funny to *me*. But it does seem to prove the point, doesn’t it?”

    The point that shamus has nothing against the game but against dumb copy pro..I mean restriction rules developers enforce on them?Yes,that basically is the point.

  37. Miral says:

    Actually, this reminds me of Darkened Skye, which I bought and played through several years ago. It was a lot of fun (especially since it had the “sarcastic sidekick”, which is one of my favourite archetypes) — but it’s definitely got the product placement thing going, since the ingredients required to cast magic spells are “Skittles”. Yes, those little candy things. Didn’t detract from the fun at all.

  38. Megan says:

    The thing i like about this game is just the adventure, anddd i knw this is going to sound cheesey but also because of farha, i’m a romantic ok. my favorite scene is where you have to catch up to her in the baths and you protect her and after that the scene comes up where farha says to the prince don’t die on me I LOVE YOU. my least favorite part of the game is at the end the prince and farha are trapped in the elevater and u have 2 kill 40 monsters to get out. it’s pretty hard to protect her and lead them away from her at the same time, she die’s easily on that one, unless your really good at it. But the one thing that bugs me the most through the entire series is that the prince has no name, the people who made the game can’t give the prince a name, they gave farha one. If she can have a name why can’t the prince, are we just gonna call him prince forever? he should have a name.

  39. Megan z says:

    OK guys if you like this game prince of persia sands of time you will probebly like tomb radier: lara croft, try it.
    i loveed that game.

  40. Roseland Ismail says:

    you wasted my time

  41. Seanjay says:

    “Prince of Persia, The Sands of Time” was probably one of the movies which turned my disappointment other way around. To be honest when I entered the cinema I was expecting crappy story and not a lot of action. Those expectations were destroyed when the movie started to with back story to prince and then a battle scene. The battle scene was made in really awesome way and I was left pleased. Through out the whole story it was just ups and downs, they didn’t leave the watcher waiting for action or any other events for long, since the action scene just kept on coming on and on. The ending was pretty interesting and it wasn’t another misleading and disappointing story. I just loved it.

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