Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End Review

Tim Billups

Ahoy! Are you land lubbers ready for an in your face battle for the seven seas? Well get ready for some not so fierce action as you take on the East India Trading Co. and Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. This is EA's second game based on Disney's popular swashbuckling trilogy. Do you have what it takes to travel to the ends of the world and back to save your friends' souls? We shall soon find out…

Being developed by Eurocom, those who are familiar with previous developments, knew what was in store. Eurocom has been developing console games for 19 years, with titles such as Harry Potter and Batman Begins being their biggest titles. The majority of their work is devoted to creating games from blockbuster films. Which, we all know is going to happen, but would think that after being in the business for 19 years, that they would have listened to the numerous fans who request a better experience. Even though they are getting better with developing games, they are still a long way off from having a huge hit.

You’re gonna lose, Savvy?

You start the adventure as Captain Jack Sparrow, and you are imprisoned on the island from Dead Man’s Chest. In this level you will learn the basics of combat, how to pick up and throw objects, and how to navigate throughout the game. The game combines the events from Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End into an adventure that is fun and exciting. Throughout the game, you'll get the opportunity to play as the all the film's lead characters, including Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swan.

The game consists of eleven levels, including Tortuga, Port Royal and Davy Jones' Locker. Each level has missions for you to accomplish, one of which is collecting a picture from the Calypso scrapbook. Once you are able to find them all, you will unlock the story of Davy Jones and Calypso. You will also come across puzzles that need to be solved in order to progress, which are simple and require a few attempts to solve. The levels themselves are short, and not difficult to find your way through. Some are designed to consume time in my opinion, as you go in circles or go to one spot only to find that it is blocked off, and have to go back to where you started. You don't get to choose your path, it is set for you, and you can only go that one way. You can't interact with your surroundings for the most part, making an already short game seem that much more pointless. Have you ever said to yourself, "why can't climb on that fence and go over?" With these levels, you will say that at every turn.

The gameplay is not too bad, but could have been better. It’s your typical beat-em up game with swords for the most part. There isn’t much room for error as long as you keep mashing that A button. You can continuously run, unlike some games where you can only run for short periods. Maneuvering your character through the levels is simple, clearly designed to keep the game accessible to a younger audience. For the most part you will be running through the levels engaging in relatively simple sword fights, but there are some spots where you'll need to practice your acrobatic skills by dodging traps, navigating dangerous cliffsides, or balancing your way across narrow bridges.

When battling enemies, you have three main ways of fighting; using your sword, punching them or grabbing ahold of them. For the most part, combat is easy. Two hits with either the sword or your fist, and the enemy will turn his back to you. When this happens you can either slash him with your sword, punch him or use one of your finishers. Each character has Finishers, moves that are best used on the stronger enemies, because normal swashbuckling just won’t cut it with them. I say stronger enemies because they are not really bosses, but are somewhat stronger than the normal enemies you'll encounter. Anyway, these moves are enabled by pressing the left trigger, and then A, X, Y or B. Each one is different, but they also carry a different amount of points. If you use one on a normal bad guy, you will get fewer points, but on a stronger enemy you’ll get more points. And dependent on which one you use, you can also get more points.

Throughout the game you will come across different weapons to pick up and use. These aren’t like new swords or anything like that so don’t get your hopes up. You will come across daggers, “grenades”, rum bottles and flintlock ammo. The upside to the daggers is that when you throw it at someone, even if it kills them, you can pick it up and use it again. The rum bottles obviously you wouldn’t be able to do so, but what pirate game would be complete without breaking a bottle over someone's head?

Don't look down, whatever you do don't look down.

Included throughout the game are chests full of wonderment…yeah right! In each chest you will find something to use; be it money to up your notoriety, a weapon, a shrunken head, or one of the games many collectibles. Yeah, I said it, collectibles. Each level has a collectible in it. And it’s not just one, there are many. Why they did this, I don’t know. The only upside that I see to them, is that the collectible matched the level more or less. For instance, in Singapore, you are collecting maps, much like the one that is used to find Jack in Davy Jones’ Locker.

Much like in Dead Man’s Chest, Davy Jones tells Captain Jack that in order to save his own soul, he must collect 100 souls. So, when you are Jack, your sword has a special ability, called Jackinism. To utilize the Jackinism, you must collect the shrunken heads spread throughout each level. Once enabled, your sword will turn green, and you get one hit kills. Now this does wear off, so don’t think that you’re just going to get to use it for as long as you wish. The other tricky part to this is that say you collect 4 souls in Port Royal and come back and collect 5. Well, your total is going to only be 5. It doesn’t add them all up; it only takes the highest number that you have got in any particular level. Also throughout the levels in which you play as Jack, there are Jackinism chests. Each chest can only be opened if you have three shrunken heads at that time. The chests hold secrets that you can view from the extras menu. If you remember from the movie, Jack’s father has Jack’s mum’s shrunken head, just thought that was a quirky co-inky dink.

Now, for the best part of the game, Duels! The duels are one on one, side view combat, controlled with the analog stick. Giving you control of how you fight, which is much more impressive than smashing the A button to kill an enemy. With this, one hit doesn’t kill the enemy, but it takes down their health bar. It is also not constricted to just using your sword. In some areas the environment will play a role, whether it be a cronie for your opponent dropping a barrel down towards you, or jumping up and attempting to kick your opponent. You are also able to counter your opponent after you have successfully blocked a set number of attacks. By far this is the only part of the game most will get enjoyment out of, I just wish that there were more opportunities to do them.

You'll never forget the day...oh bugger.

Visually, the game is decent. Decent because you can tell that they did a rush job on getting this released alongside the final film. The characters resemble their real life counterparts, which is about the only thing done above par. The environments are decent, but lack any sort of flow. It gave me that feeling of playing a game on the PS2, only with upgraded graphics that aren’t worthy of the 360. For the characters you play as, and the ones who represent a "major" character from the film, they did a good job depicting them. However, for the majority of the enemies you fight, and those that make up your environments, they all look the same. Which only goes to show that despite being the byproduct of a big name film, they can't be bothered with at least giving the consumer an assortment of foe's to battle. Jack's compass is what you use to guide yourself through the level, but at times you can't see what it is you are supposed to be looking for. There isn't any way to figure it out, just trial and error jumping and trying to grab on anything you can. They could have given a way to detect items you can jump onto, or climb.

Now, this is what gets me. Only a few actors from the film did the voiceover work for this game. To make matters worse, the people they got to do them sound nothing like those they are supposed to be. Will Turner sounds like a stuck up aristocrat, and Jack Sparrow sounds like someone stuck a hot poker up his arse and made him squeal. This is the biggest disappointment in my view, as I am sick of movie to game ports with the look of the character but not the voice. The other sounds in the game are noticeable, but nothing to write home about.

Achievement wise, the game is typical, 30 achievements for 1000gs. You’ll get achievements for collecting the set number of collectibles in each level, opening each Jackinism chest and basically beating the levels. By beating the levels, you are given achievements for earning finishing moves. Just a different name for an achievement that is one in the same. You will acquire the majority of the achievements with ease, and you don't even have to beat the game to gain them all. All of which are relatively easy to gain, just a pain due to them being collection achievements. The hardest achievement, which is really more time consuming than difficult, is for collecting 100 souls. This is where you will get replay from this game, but in my opinion it's only worth the hassle if you truly want the achievement points.

Oh my that is bright…

Although the game had promise and good intentions, sadly it didn't arouse much excitement. The lack of commitment towards producing a great title saddened me. Combining the storyline from two motion pictures into one game could have been amazing, but was cut down to decent by the mediocre graphics and sub-par audio. Clearly only appealing to avid fans and younger gamers, this title is surely on the list of games for easy achievement points.

The characters themselves were done well, but the environment just wasn’t cutting it for me. There were details that looked good, but overall it seemed to linear.

The character voice-overs were not done well at all. By far the worst attempt I have seen, but am sure won’t be the last time I say that.

Easy to control, but gamers will get bored of button mashing rather quickly Only good part is dueling, but is overshadowed by the fact you don’t do it as often.

Rushed, like most movie to game titles. This game could have been so much more, but alas, we will never know

The majority of the achievements are for collecting items. Which, in a game like this you expect. Overall not a difficult list, but not great by any means

I wanted this game to be more of a challenge. I was hoping that this game would be the one title that stood out from the rest of movie/games, but I was let down. Let us just be grateful that there are not any more Pirates’ movies left to do.

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