It's an unambiguous game.
Warrior Within is fundamentally the same sort of game that prequel Sands of Time was, but apparently Ubisoft's marketing department took control and tweaked it all to hell. The focus groups they used were also apparently full of Dudebros and 13 year olds. The game is now soaked in buckets of blood, combat is heavily emphasized throughout, the Prince is an angsty RAAAGER, the soundtrack is all crunchy generic metal chords, they even threw two Godsmack songs on the soundtrack out of nowhere. Oh, and tits and ass everywhere.
Most people seem to cite the change in tone as the major failing of this one as compared to SoT, but personally I didn't like SoT at all, so the major issue for me here is basically just delivering Moar Of The Same but doing it in a much more tiresome and unappealing way. I mean, to be honest, Violent Angsty Rager Prince actually seems to be a character more suited to the story, given that his family is basically a bunch of savage fucks that invade, kill and rape other kingdoms just for the loot and the lulz.
Let's start with installation and control. As with SoT, I give the game props for installing just fine on a modern Win 7 machine and running out of the box with no driver futzing or patching needed. Unfortunately, like the previous game, it still refuses to recognize my Saitek generic USB controller (which has worked with every single other commercial game I've run short of these two and Batman AA). Unlike the previous game, Joy2Key and similar programs are not a workaround, because for some totally inexplicable reason, when I use a keymapper it mushes random buttons together, like jump and sword swing are assigned to one button regardless of my settings. Long story short, I couldn't use a gamepad for this one, and keyboard control is like the worst possible option out of all the ports of this game. So I'm cutting it some slack on control/gameplay because of that, but you should be aware that if you don't have the Monster Dicktoucher or whatever obscure, obsolete pad Ubisoft was trying to push, you're likely to be in the same control quandary.
So here's how Sands of Time went (and why I didn't like it): Enter room, fight with needlessly constrained camera and viewpoint to try to figure out what finicky series of moves the designers left for you to repeat to get through it (aka Jumping Puzzles.) Experiment because the crappy camera/perspective frequently doesn't let you see quite what they intended for you to do. Die a lot because every mistake is punished by some massive plunge. Rewind time a little to partially mitigate the frustration, but not enough so to keep the game from being a headache. Every now and then, interrupt the pattern of going through samey environs and puzzles to have combat against a pile of inept mooks that you basically end up spamming the same "jump over the head" move over and over against just to put as quick as possible an end to the tedium. Repeat until you either Win or Boredomquit.
Here's how Warrior Within goes: Enter room. Struggle with needlessly constrained camera and viewpoint, but now for bonus counterintuitive fun, the camera movement is inverted for no good reason at all and you can't change it. Experiment and die a lot because you often can't see what the hell is going on with each room, but for bonus fun there's shit tons more fighting and it's mixed in with the jumping puzzles. Fight a bunch of mooks that are no more competent than the scrubs in SoT but now take 80 billion hits to bring down for some reason. Do part of a jumping puzzle, then some shithead mini-boss type enemy runs in. Either spend about 4 hours blocking their attacks and waiting for them to let their guard down, or spam the "jump over the head move" repeatedly. When it's the latter, quite often this takes place on ledges where if the Prince decides to unpredictably kick-flip off the enemy or a nearby wall, he may launch himself straight to his death. MOAR JUMPING AND SHIT CAMERA. Here and there there is a boss battle which consists of MOAR BLOCKING now for about 10 hours straight while you wait for the boss to stop whirling around like a Cuisinart and stand still for a bit so you can get a couple whacks in.
Oh, and there's one other thing. A giant impervious beast called Nemes Dahaka is chasing you around 'cause he's like the accountant of time and you're not supposed to be alive so he has to tentacle rape you into nonexistence. Except, for no adequately explained reason, he can't cross the path of water. So there's pre-scripted points where he pops in and you have to run away, usually executing a series of pole jumps and such or whatever, and if you fail to do them perfectly you get a tentacle lodged in a rude place and DO IT ALL OVER. If you ever played through the old Spider-Man game for the 64-bit systems, every Dahakan encounter is basically like the shit final boss of that game.
The combat is somewhat improved in that there's Lots Moar Moves and New Weapons, but the game also revolves heavily around it now as well. If you enjoyed the self-contained "jumping puzzles" style of the previous game, it's a crapshoot as to whether you'll get the same enjoyment out of this one. There's no longer separate elements of platforming and combat segments in much of the game, now it's all mushed together so you can enjoy enemies cheap-shotting you off of ledges while you try to jump around. And then you have to endure Prince and the enemies shooting off their generic macho taunts at each other constantly, and just wait until you get an earful of the hideous screeching of the ninja bitches!
The Prince believes that a woman has the right to choose
Fans of this game (amazingly, there are some) like to point out that the inclusion of two Godsmack songs, one of which does not have vocals that are played in the game, does not make the game bad. That's true, but the point they're missing is that the Godsmack thing is more of a symbolic reference/summation of everything in the design philosophy that went wrong between this game and the last. Where we had the series' original designer, Jordan Mechner, crafting an appropriately Arabian Nights-esque tale of wonder in Sands Of Time, we now have some Marketroid team in control and pandering as hard as they can to the energy drink-chugging frat boy crowd in a pathetic attempt for Moar Sales. And the emphasis on combat alienates the established fanbase of the first game, who liked it primarily for the jumping puzzle segments, which are now lessened. As for me, I know this is kind of the minority opinion, but I couldn't stand the jumping puzzles of the original, so any amount of that again is a bad move, but adding Moar Tedious Combat and Moar Fratboy Mentality actually made the experience substantially worse.
" ... Yet she made us all get titty implants for some reason."
* I SMOLDER WITH GENERIC RAGE
* Gameplay Video