It’s fairly unlikely that any buccaneer-based game will ever surpass the outstanding gameplay of Sid Meier’s Pirates! series, but that doesn’t mean that pirate games don’t have a lot going for them, think of them like Grand Theft Naval. And, as pirate-brands go, the hugely popular Pirates Of The Caribbean series of films are about as strong as they get. Well, you could see it coming. They’ve made another Pirates Of The Caribbean game, except this time they are the esteemed Bethesda Softworks and the game; Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Legend Of Jack Sparrow, isn’t strictly a direct film tie-in. Now that was slightly harder to predict, wasn’t it?
Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Legend Of Jack Sparrow is set to break the mould of sloppy by-the-numbers tie-in games by actually being a decent title that just so happens to be based in the world of a blockbuster series of films. The premise of the title is that you will primarily control Jack as he tells the stories of how he gained the title of a legend. All of references to his exploits in the films, such as the sacking of Port Nassau, are planned to be covered over the games twenty-four Levels.
Predictably the game is a Third-Person Action-Adventure title, mainly of the Hack-N’-Slash variety, but suits the context well. Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Legend Of Jack Sparrow features several Context Sensitive Control Systems to break up the action, nothing new there, but a nice touch nonetheless. In general players will control two hot swappable characters from the films cast, including Will and Elizabeth, each with their own moves and abilities, and Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Legend Of Jack Sparrow will also feature Co-Operative play. The game also features light RPG elements to spice-up the action somewhat, allowing the development of player characters. Multiple routes through Levels are also available, hopefully allowing a little more re-playability than is usually the case with these kind of titles.
Another big plus for Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Legend Of Jack Sparrow is the inclusion of Johnny Depp as the voice of Jack, something that should seal the deal for fans of the films. Judging by the E3 demo, the writing is also pretty sharp; making for an experience slightly more entertaining than the norm. Perhaps the most unique feature of Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Legend Of Jack Sparrow is the inclusion of the Moonlight Dynamic which allows individual limbs to change from human to skeleton similar to the films depending on the location of moonbeams, which apparently should all work in real-time. This is quite an achievement for the aging PlayStation2, although this feature was not on display in the demo. General graphical presentation was of a decent standard and although the demonstration was not on PlayStation2 hardware, it certainly did not seem out of the consoles reach. Animation in the Cut-Scenes was a slightly flawed, but nothing that should adversely affect play – however there were indications of Frame-Rate problems in the Preview Code; not a good sign since the game is scheduled for release with the new film; Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Dead Man’s Chest, sometime this summer.
It’s unlikely that Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Legend Of Jack Sparrow will be a game that brings the industry to it’s knees, but it does show signs of being a solid film tie-in, and in the days of the abysmal Zathura, that should be good enough to guarantee it the status of a decent game.