Welcome to The TPS Report, home to video game blogs, mix sets and even the odd piece o' 3D art.

Broke arse student, freelance games reviewer and rambling obsessive that I am, I currently seek work in mags and web sites throughout the world. If you're in a position to make that happen - and like what you see around here - let me know. I've published work with the likes of IGN and Gaming Steve.


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28/7/2012 22:31

Preview Time! Games to Look Out For in 2011
8/1/2011 5:54

2010's Games of Shame
6/1/2011 22:47

My Fave Games of 2010!
6/1/2011 20:12

StarCraft II Review - Dig Loveth the RTS!?
7/11/2010 12:48

10 Must-Have iPhone Games
2/6/2010 18:09

A Little Hotlink to An Article I Stuck Up On GiantBomb
21/4/2010 15:01

Aliens Vs Predator is Here! Woo! Oh, Hang On...
6/3/2010 20:58

iPhone Games!
6/3/2010 20:40

The Top 30 Games of an Obscenely Packed 2009. Shit Gets Epic
7/1/2010 20:09


If interested in discussing writing opportunities for on or offline gaming publications - either UK based or abroad - please contact me via E-Mail. Sparkling CV available on request



Is Prince of Persia - The Two Thrones As Bad As Warrior Within?
Posted by Diggler - 9/12/2005 23:42

This latest Prince of Persia game goes back to its Sands of Time roots in terms of look and feel, but still retains the hardcore violence and combat of Warrior Within
It's becoming increasingly clear that Sands of Time was something of an all-time classic. When Ubisoft bought out the Prince of Persia property, and kick-started their own new trilogy with Sands back in 2003, it more than lived up to the series that spawned it and then some. That's a game I've chatted about endlessly on the site over the past year, and with good reason; as more and more time passes it rises higher in my all-time hall of fame. If you missed out on that game, shame on you - it's a beautiful, brilliant piece of entertainment.

The same can't be said of its sequel, Warrior Within. Ubisoft attempted to rework a ton of beat 'em up elements into the game, both stylistically and mechanically, losing the beautiful laid-back atmosphere of its prequel along with 90% of its charm. The result was more of a silly and tiresome action game, than the beautifully mature platformer we all expected, and one I couldn't even bring myself to finish. Most of the world agreed with me.

Which brings us to The Two Thrones - out now on all three consoles and PC. It's the final part of that trilogy and thus has to not only tie up the (really rather good) ongoing storyline, but also put right all that went wrong with the previous game too. In many ways, it manages to succeed, but I'd be lying if I said it could touch the original. If however, you accept from the offset that this will never quite rise to the level of its brilliant forefather, there's some pretty damn decent fun to be had here.

Time For Redemption

If you haven't been playing the previous games, fear not, as a pretty little intro sequence gets us back up to speed instantly. The game begins as the Prince returns from his trek to the Island of Time from the last game, only to find his home city burnt to the ground, overtaken by a savage force. They subsequently kidnap his "special lady friend" as The Dude would say, hence the Prince grabs the nearest sword, puts on his platforming shoes and gets to work setting her free.

Stealth kills let you take out enemies in no time at all, a smart and pleasing addition
In a way, this is the game Warrior Within should have been. While it still has an emphasis on combat, with a similar dark, urgent tone, it pulls it off considerably better this time around, while still retaining some semblance of artistic merit in the process.

For instance, while enemies are still very much prominent, the game includes an ingenious new stealth kill system to help dispatch them much faster. What does this entail? Quite simply, as enemies patrol the levels, if you can manage to avoid being seen, you can tip toe up behind 'em and wipe them out in about two seconds flat with instant take downs. This is a wonderful idea, as it essentially turns the enemies into another puzzle that must be solved. The patrolling bad guy is no different to the spiked trap in that regard.

Sure, you can just as easily charge in for a more traditional button bash-fest, hacking and slashing and grinding your fingerprints off in the process, but much more enjoyable is this new, more sophisticated route. It's a wonderful feeling of accomplishment to climb a nearby platform, shimmy along the wall, leap across to the other side, then drop down behind a guard for a beautifully animated insta-kill. Compared to Warrior Within, there's considerably less button bashing as a result of this, and if your stealth skills are up to scratch, no more monotonous battles at all; just slice, dice and move on.

This alone makes the game a million times more fun to play, as your actions are a lot more focused around the platforming and puzzle solving elements that always made Prince of Persia shine.

Back in Time

Arguably more pleasing to me though is the fact the heavily dumbed-down Americanisation of the last game is all but gone. Music is thankfully rid of the cancerous guitar-warbling found in the previous game, and even better, the original voice actor from Sands of Time returns. His work here is thankfully more comparable in tone to that game than the utter twunt found in Warrior, however his accent is a little inconsistent, hovering about mid-way between uptight British (Sands) and arse kicking American (Warrior), but at least this helps bridge the previous titles a little.

Dark Prince takes over regular old
Prince at seemingly random moments.
Submerge the sucker in water and he disappears
Even more pleasing are the return of some familiar faces. I hate to spoil the plot, but needless to say a certain young lady reappears early on, not to mention a monstrously evil Vizier. This considerably improved the game's atmosphere and character for me, making it feel like the true sequel we all wanted.

More conflicting thoughts center around the new "Dark Prince" character. Early on you're "torn in two" by the sands of time you see, thus developing an alter-ego of sorts, who takes over your body at inopportune moments. This Dark Prince is fully playable, alternating levels with regular Prince throughout the remainder of the game.

He seems conceived around pleasing fans of God of War more than anything though, complete with massive chains for "super bad ass combos" along with a draining life meter that must be constantly replenished by killing. Dark Prince does add some variety to the proceedings all in all, and his levels even border on fun, but it is very nerve-wrecking stuff, and always a bit of a relief when his segments end.

Just as a character and from a storytelling perspective though, the Dark Prince works far better. Thrones maintains those fabulous voice over narratives and real-time conversations throughout the entirety of the game, and the Dark Prince is a beauty in that regard, whispering ill advice and naughty thoughts into your ear constantly. Such interactions are rather inspired and perfectly written.

Painful Times

Thrones can be stupidly difficult and immensely frustrating at times. This entire level, for instance
So far then, so pretty good. My main problem with the game though is that, most bizarrely, it's surprisingly lacking in the visual department. Jaggies are out in full force, character detail is dated and lacking, and the beautifully soft, hazy look of Sands is long gone.

Thrones features many a dull brown room for you to jump around instead, with very little approaching the gorgeous blue and purple locations of Sands. Boy it tries...oh so hard...but it's just not an amazingly pretty game unfortunately. The previously mentioned Dark Prince is particularly ugly.

This may not sound like much. After all, gameplay is what's important - and Thrones is rather good in that regard - but for a series that even as far back as the '80s, has always been so visual...so eye-poppingly beautiful...Thrones just doesn't live up to that legacy for me. Around the final third of the story, things get markedly better - even somewhat striking at times - but by this point it's possibly too little too late.

It's also worth noting that the game often borders on frustratingly difficult too. Do yourself a favour and play this one on Easy, regardless of your skill. Despite the new insta-kill mechanic, you can still find yourself battling up to five enemies at once when you botch up the stealth manoeuvres, where the game quickly turns teeth-grindingly difficult. Punishing bosses and new (trial-and-error heavy) chariot racing levels don't help, adding to that frustration factor.

Out of Time

Thrones does a nice job of bridging all three games into one. It has its probs, but I dig it
Despite these problems - and they are rather large - I'm on the whole pretty pleased with The Two Thrones. At its best it's a fun and inventive platformer with wonderful puzzles and an engaging story, while at its worst it's a frustrating and disheartening beat 'em up that simultaneously disappoints graphically. I'd say the good outweighs the bad though.

It really does find a comfy little midpoint between its two prequels in that regard, melding the three together somewhat successfully in terms of gameplay and aesthetics. For that, I guess I'll give it a slap on the bum for a job well done...but perhaps quite a hard slap though, for some shamefully missed opportunities.

If you dug any of the previous Prince of Persia games - old or new - you could do a lot worse than pick this one up. I just hope you've got some mad skills, as it really is tough as balls.

(Pictures courtesy of Prince of Persia)

Untitled Document

The Polynomial. Like playing a rave

Untitled Document

Fallout 3

Enjoying a fully modded out re-visit. Wow

The Road

Pretty much due to the above

Breaking Bad

Already shaping up to be the best season yet

Explosions in the Sky

Easing the pain of living in a post-Friday Night Lights world

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Gamespot's audio-based companion to On the Spot, in which site editors cover the week's news while simultaneously poking fun at all that is gaming

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Quick-fire internet-based TV show with console reviews and comedy sketches. Funny as hell

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Official podcast from the team of Hideo Kojima, creator of the much-loved Metal Gear franchise. Full of news and interviews relating to all things Metal Gear, it's probably one for die-hard fans only

Pure Pwnage
Mockumentary series on the life of a pro gamer. Episode five is possibly the funniest thing on the internet

Other Sites

What you could call gaming's homepage. Constantly updated news and links on the entire industry, from minute breaking headlines, to funny arse viral vids

Game Trailers
Easy to use multimedia-rich web site offering official trailers, video demos and sneak peaks at all the upcoming releases

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Sister site to 1up.com, focusing on game trailers, video interviews and even the odd documentary

The Gamespot front-end, and the gaming equivalent of the Internet Movie Database. Includes detailed reviews and extensive video features on pretty much all systems and games ever made

Giant Bomb
Speaking of Gamespot, the controversial "letting go" of editor Jeff Gerstmann resulted in him starting up this new venture with fellow former writers of the site. Great podcast in particular

Discounting the audio and video shows mentioned earlier, 1up's main site is also worth a visit in its own right. Not only bustling with quality gaming articles and extensive developers' blogs, it also doubles up as a massive friends network, ideal for meeting fellow gamers and joining like-minded communities

Live Marketplace Feed
The most up to date and reliable way to keep track of all the new Xbox Live Marketplace content, from new weapons and map packs, to movie trailers and game demos

Xbox Reloaded
360 backwards compatibility can be a minefield. This blog attempts to shed some light on the issue by playing original Xbox games for you and reporting back the results

The ultimate resource for walkthroughs and cheats

Disposable Media
A wonderful (and free) E-zine, full of reviews and articles on gaming, movies, music and TV. Puts most high street mags to shame

A must-have for all PC gamers, X-Fire is a buddy list and communications tool that keeps constant tabs on what games both you and all your mates are playing, on or offline

A contender to the X-Fire throne that has pretty much overtaken it straight out of the gate. Valve's Steam client contains friends lists, downloadable games, Live-style achievements and plenty more to sink your teeth into

Convert your Xbox Live gamercard into an image, for use on forums and web sites for free. That's mine further down

Ain't it Cool News
The latest news, gossip and spy reports from the world of movies, TV and (occasionally) video games

Writer, director and actor Kevin Smith - he of Clerks fame - records a monthly podcast in which he and fellow pals discuss everything from trying to felate oneself, to the time his dog got covered in ejaculate. Riveting stuff


Matt Robinson, 2011

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