On November 2nd, Ubisoft and the Urban Groove Network threw "an unprecedented 5 U.S. city simultaneous club launch" to kick off the release of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. These nightclub bashes gave partygoers in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Chicago an early chance to go hands-on with the multiplatform title before it hits stores on November 11th, as well as take home free merchandise and Prince of Persia prize packs. TNL was in attendence at the L.A. event to play the game, take pictures of the scene - and get our groove on!
Urban Groove's promotional flyer for the Los Angeles event, which was held at the trendy Ivar nightclub in Hollywood. Popular local DJ's Adam 12 and Reflection would be on hand to rock the party from "11 P.M. - ?"
Saturday night at the Ivar was even busier than usual with the extra hype for Ubisoft's event. The line outside the entrance was daunting... It's good to be on the list!
Inside the club, a few Prince of Persia banners hung on the walls, but the "Persian themed experience" was decidedly understated. Ah, perhaps the trendy decor at Ivar was exotic enough as it was...
Guests boogie down to the sounds of DJ's Adam 12 and Reflection. The playlist was heavy on hip-hop party tunes that got the dancefloor crowd moving--no ambiant Middle-Eastern flavored techno from the Prince of Persia soundtrack here!
The lounge in the back of the club featured swank seating areas (available for a small rental fee, thank you) and cocktail tables covered with Prince of Persia promotional postcards. Despite appearences, the girls seen dancing on tables seemed to be a regular part of Ivar's scene and not authentic Persian belly-dancers hired for the occasion.
Huge video screens over the lounge bar projected CG cutscenes from Prince of Persia throughout the evening, though at times they switched to clips of Japanese anime (as shown above).
Now what about those hands-on demo units? It took a little effort to find the area where you could actually play Prince of Persia. After asking a bouncer, we were directed to this side room behind the dance floor. Though a small crowd was gathered around the game, many of the folks inside were oblivious and seemed to wonder why people were playing a PlayStation 2 at a happening nightclub!
The lone demo station set up in the corner left a bit to be desired, but the game itself was a joy to play.
Unfortunately, it turned out that only the PS2 version of Prince of Persia was on display tonight. According to the the Ubi Soft sales manager on hand, it was a "final debug copy," the first time the finished code for the full game was being shown publicly instead of a shorter demo. Though we were hoping to try out the final Xbox or GameCube releases (rumored to have graphical enhancements over the PS2 version), it was nice to have one more chance to take the game for a spin in a public setting before it came out. Reactions to the game were very positive from club guests who played it.
One notable addition to the final copy was that the intro to the game was now fully completed, and began with a beautiful scene of the Prince looking out upon the starry night from his palace balcony. The cutscenes that set up his arrival at the enormous castle where the game proper takes place are now much longer as well. Controls and presentation seemed to deliver on the high promise of earlier demos--no wonder this game is already jumping onto many lists as a contender for "Game of the Year."
Look for Prince of Persia when it hits stores soon... The Playstation 2 version comes out this week, while the Xbox and GameCube releases join the party on November 11th.
· · · Teddman