Prince of Persia – Fixing Choppy Audio

An explanation for audio cuts in game and a few solutions to this issue.

How to Fix Guide

Intro

To save you time, this is not a step-by-step solution, because there are several options, and it depends on your abilities which one you should choose. I’m merely pointing out the issue and give some suggestions on how to deal with that.

Year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Twenty Three

So, you bought the game, launched it, fiddled with settings. Intro video plays, all is well.

But then, seconds into in-game cutscene ambient vanishes, Elika doesn’t finish her lines, and Not_Prince doesn’t even start them!

Seems familiar?

You might’ve blamed your audio hardware or drivers. Wrong.

You might’ve went into the game’s folder, seen eax.dll and deduced it’s the game’s audio solution misbehaving. Wrong again, bucko.

The actual culprit is your storage.

More specifically, this little thing called “Allocation unit size”, sometimes called “cluster size”. According to Microsoft themselves, cluster size represents the smallest amount of disk space that can be used to hold a file. When file sizes do not come out to an even multiple of the cluster size, additional space must be used to hold the file (up to the next multiple of the cluster size).

Unless you live in fairy land, or rock some really old hardware, odds are your HDDs and SSDs are formatted with allocation size of 4096 bytes. The game expects 512 bytes. Because it’s old. So basically, it just reads only a ~quarter of a single chunk of data and then moves on to the next one, even though there’s three quarters more to read.

For tech-savvy among you, the solution seems straightforward – format your drive with smaller allocation, and be done with it. Carve an extra partition out of your storage even, so that you won’t inconvenience yourself too much. Welp, you’re wrong again, because most probably, you’ll discover that 4096 bytes is the smallest available partition size – this is not a software limitation, but hardware one – with bigger and bigger hard drives being available each year, these clusters only grow in size, and manufacturers are not producing old stuff because new stuff is allegedly better. And even if they did, smallest allocation size is not a marketable thing to put on the box, so you’d be out of luck anyway.

What we gonna do here is go back!

Frankly, we’re done with the important part of the guide. If you know your stuff, you already should have an idea how to deal with this issue. If you don’t, I won’t give you exact steps – no reason to bloat this guide beyond necessity, and all of the options are easily searchable online, but I will give you some pointers:

  • Most straightforward solution is to get yourself an older hard drive. It doesn’t need to be actually formatted in 512 byte clusters, just show you an option to do so. Move your game install to that drive, and et voila! Obviously, you’d need a way to connect it to your computer, a SATA cable and an extra SATA power on your PSU, or external hard drive enclosure.
  • If you don’t feel like digging through dumps in search of a computer to cannibalize, but do have a working machine with such HDD already in use, this is your reminder that Steam can create game libraries on network drives. Create a network share between two computers, install the game there. This is what I did.
  • It doesn’t need to be a hard drive specifically – an older thumb drive is an option too. Heck, even optical storage might work, go ham – the only thing you care about is the possibility of formatting that medium in 512 byte chunks and it’s ability to fit the damn game.
  • Now, we’re getting into more radical suggestions – virtualization. I didn’t check for this specifically, but I know some VM’s allow for a very granular customization of hardware emulated, so if you do have a VM installed on your computer for whatever reason – consider trying to run the game from there.
  • Realistically, if you reached VMs, you should also know that the game was released on Xbox 360 & Playstation 3. Emulating those is an option too. And considering how Ubisoft essentially abandoned this game and the entire franchise of Prince of Persia, I don’t see why you should feel any restraint in this matter. As an added bonus, this is your only way to play the Epilogue DLC, that is apparently good, and was never released on PC.
Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13544 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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