The newest title of the famed Prince of Persia series, POP : The Forgotten Sands, was released to the public on the 12th June (Microsoft Windows version). This game, published by UBISOFT, was protected by UBI’s own DRM which itself was quite a hot topic in the PC gaming community a while back. Despite various controversies about the DRM ‘calling home’ even during the single player campaign, the system seems to be doing it’s job. True, it has not been able to stop piracy altogether but it has delayed those early leaks which were all too common with UBISOFT games a while ago. A pirated version of The Forgotten Sands eventually did appear on file sharing networks but it look pirates more than two weeks since the game’s street date develop a workaround. The pirated version seemingly works, but that too is not without flaws.
I know quite a few people who’ve grabbed a legit copy of this game and none of them seemed to encounter any showstopper bugs with it. However, the story is quite different when it comes to the pirated version. There appear to be many pirates who are unable to progress through POP due to the game not opening doors that are supposed to open and switches that are supposed to unlock. For example, in the prison level you might stumble across a door that won’t open even if you step on it’s switch. Sometimes you’ll hear the sound of the door opening but it actually remains closed. In addition to these, some save related bugs have also been reported (autosave does not resume from where it should resume after the player dies). If you wonder why this is happening, this is due to the DRM. A good explanation of how UBI’s DRM for POP : TFS works is given in the NFO released by SKIDROW:
To clear the minds of the individuals who think: "Game x was done fast and this one taking ages" etc. The way the Ubisoft DRM works, makes it so that every game is like a brand new challenge. What it does do, is offload certain parts of the game to a server, game then requests those things at runtime. These parts can be anything that the developer wants. In the case with Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, those things were:
XP & Levels
Every time you step on a button "in game", it sends a request to server asking what to do. Server then sends the door code to open, including how much time it stays open. Levers work similarly, every time you press the "TAB" button to display skills, game asks again server: "What skills do player have", and so on and on. All that stuff takes a lot of time to implement right and we do implement it like the original do. All our doors open and close with exact same time factors as the retail do. We just wanted to clarify a little how the Ubisoft DRM really does work, because a lot of those individuals we mentioned in the beginning of this statement didn't seem to understand, yet what kind of monster this is. It's not some simply "Values" going around like it were with Assassin's Creed II.
As far as I’m aware, the workaround created by SKIDROW (as well as the Chinese ‘beta’ crack that came out earlier) functions by emulating server responses on the client side. I’m not sure if they actually wrote the server side code again (Razor1911 claimed to do so in AC2 release) or if they are using a logged response values database like in previous releases. Either way, a wrong response code for a specific trigger would mean the game would malfunction. This could very well be the reason why certain switches in the game don’t work and doors cannot be unlocked.
Anyways, some of you might be wondering, is there a way to bypass the bugs? Well there are things you could try but there is no guarantee all your problems will be solved. Whenever you encounter a bug, pause the game, change the difficulty setting and try again. For example if you are playing on Hard, try changing the difficulty to Medium. Alternatively, you can either purchase the game legitimately or wait until SKIDROW or some one releases a fix for the pirated release (with updated server responses maybe).