Games based on movies are a curious business. Browse your local gaming store and you’ll find shelves filled with a collection of cheap games cobbled together and thrown at the mass market with no consideration for the little things like fresh gameplay or plain simple fun. With the disappointment of Spiderman 3 the Game fresh in people’s minds, some may approach Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End with trepidation.
Luckily, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End not only avoids the curse of most movie based games, (bar the classic N64 Goldeneye) but is something spectacular in its own right. It has taken its cues from such great action adventure games like Prince of Persia and the original Tomb Raider and added the films’ unique flair to produce a game of the highest quality.
Developers Eurocom have actually been working on the game since before the second movie was even released so it bears little resemblance to the lacklustre Legend of Jack Sparrow of last year. The third-person adventure involves storyline over the final two movies of the trilogy and places you reintroduces many familiar faces from the hugely successful film series.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End immerses you into the world of Jack Sparrow through a series of well-crafted cut-scenes and a simple learn-as-you-go first level. The voice acting, with some eerily similar voice-overs used for the major roles, is superb from the get-go, adding to the atmospheric score and moody lighting prevalent in the opening prison fortress.
Gorgeous visuals compliment the outstanding vocal work as the game drifts through the various locals in the movie trilogy. Lush tropical islands and dank, dark pirate ships are beautifully crafted to showcase the power of the next-gen systems. The character models are equally stunning, Jack swaggers like a drunk, hands flailing about as he carries himself with an air that only Johnny Depp could manage.
The next-gen version of the game come with a controllable camera which does a decent enough job of staying in the right place for the majority of the time but is also very handily re-centred with the click of a button when your character strays into uncomfortable areas.
The game eases you into the combat system by hurling various moronic goons at you while you are taught the standard hack and slash controls. Once these simple actions are learnt you start adding combos, counterattacks and throws into your repertoire until your character becomes a lean, mean, swashbuckling machine. To counter effectively, simply watch your opponent’s feet and when a red attacking circle is illuminated, tap the attack button and thumb stick and viola, awesome action accomplishment. Chaining different attacks and counters will also fill your special meter, once this meter is full, you can use it to pull off ridiculous finishing attacks which can kill even the toughest opponent.
The game also provides some one-on-one duel situations as you progress through the Caribbean and beyond. These switch the camera into a side on view, ala Street Fighter, and provide a nice diversionary break from the action/puzzle elements elsewhere. These duels balance offence and defence and reward those with a good sense of timing and patience.
The puzzle elements are slick and well-thought out, again relying on good timing in order to challenge veteran adventure gaming fans. Early in the game Jack must make his way across a wind-swept and vertigo-inducing cliffside while maintaining his balance and nerve, one bad judgement and he could be swept into the merciless rocks below. These situations crop up often and show the level of thought and planning that Eurocom has put into the game for the last two years.
With the action taking place over huge levels and environments the game crucially provides an onscreen compass to point you in the right direction, following this from start to finish is the minimum to finish each level. But Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End offers incentives for the wily gamer to take their time. Notoriety is the foremost reason to take your time as different ‘pirate’ actions build up your overall score and show how big a scoundrel you really are.
Notoriety is achieved through several different ways, picking up bags of plunder or hurling enemies through windows are just two of the more accomplishable ways to build it up. The game also provides some depth in re-playability with the addition of the Calypso Parchment to fill and letters hidden throughout each level. Chests are mostly in plain sight but some of the more secretive will use all your newly mastered pirate skills to uncover.
With a great tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, brilliant graphical qualities and oodles of detail, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End looks to have secured its place at the very top of the movie to game pile. Fans looking for a little bit more “arrrr” in their action shouldn’t sail past Jack Sparrow and his pals.