Tristan Kalogeropoulos
26 Jun, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Review

PS2 Review | Prepare to have your ship boarded by mediocrity.
This world never seems to cease creating bizarre and amazing pop cultural stories. Who would have envisioned that a Disneyland ride created in 1967 as Walt Disney’s last gift to his theme park would inspire a movie that has permeated millions of consciousnesses. Pirates of the Caribbean is an amazing phenomenon indeed. Partly fueled by the mist cast over the audience’s eyes by the good looks of the cast, partly due to the entertaining, tongue in cheek approach that it takes, Pirates has amassed quite a sizable fan base and spawned a number of marketing spin offs. But is the latest, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End on the PS2, any good? It doesn’t take long playing the game to realize the answer to this question. It stands out like a Kalahari Bushman at a Chinese midget convention. And that answer is a resounding no.

The game loosely follows the film’s story; it’s a shame though that it never really takes the player along with it. Jumping from scene to scene as if they were hot coals, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End offers very few causal links between many stages. Its cutscenes seem to act more as bookmarks than as tools for developing any plot. They’re definitely fun to watch, but without the movie to back them up it can become a little confusing as to what is going on.

As the game progresses you’re placed within the skin of the main characters from the films such as Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth. You'll find yourself hacking and slashing your way from Tortuga to the high seas. Unfortunately, as enjoyable as taking this gorgeous group of teenage girl magazine ‘hotties’ through some action packed scenarios sounds, it falls far short of its potential.

Pirate’s main focus is its swordplay, which is unfortunate, as for the most part its fighting system often leaves you feeling as though you’re just mashing on the sword swinging and kick buttons rather than swashbuckling (whatever that is). Sure there’s a series of combos, but at no stage do you actually get immersed in the swordplay. There are a few times which demand the use of the block button with some left and right hops, however this is as complex as the random button mashing gets. The scenes in which the battles take place change and these provide some interesting backdrops for the clash of sharpened steel on steel, but the action itself is left quite dull. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just boring. And the generic, uninteresting design doesn’t stop there.

Surrounded by wooden backdrops, both human and non-human.

Surrounded by wooden backdrops, both human and non-human.
If you’ve never smashed a box in a game you’ve come to the right place. The cubes of wood abound, and inside lay bags of gold, daggers or bullets; not an entirely creative or original method of expanding the inventory of those playing the game. It all gives you some insight into why so many parents view games as moronic distractions aimed solely at children.

The knives, guns, and grenades/bombs that are able to be picked up along the way make for an interesting sounding addition to the battle mechanic of Pirates. The only problem is the idea is not implemented incredibly well. There’s no way to tell where you’re really aiming with these weapons.
Cycling through them with d-pad is also a clunky way of selecting a weapon and makes changing them mid-battle difficult.

Interaction with your environment is almost entirely hotkey based. Flashing areas where you can press the triangle button to have some effect are lit up over various sections in levels. This leads to very few areas that contain any real puzzle solving, just places where you can trigger animations. Interactivity is there, it’s just at its most basic.

Enemies are generic and often emerge out of nowhere, sometimes from the ground as if the developers gave up trying to come up with interesting ways to give you more obstacles. For the most part they are also simply 're-skinned' versions of each other, all acting in an incredibly, boringly similar manner.

Then there’s the Jackanisms. Along with extensive list of other lazy, clichéd development choices Pirates has the cheek to re-label the current king of this group of gameplay mechanisms, the Quick Time Event (QTE). It’s telling that this is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the game. As with other games that employ these asides, buttons appear on the screen and as you copy them with parrot like accuracy you’ll witness Captain Jack, or the rest of his crew, overcoming enemies in their trademark mischievous style.

The visuals in Pirate’s are one of its best features, especially during the Jackanism's. However it's not all fantastic. Although NPC’s are scattered throughout many of the levels they’ll simply stand there as if carved out of wood, as you swing your sword, or try to interact with them in a more socially acceptable manner, inactive and unnecessary. Character animations are a little hit and miss too. You’d also think that by now developers could manage to animate running without making the subject’s movement’s look as though they're hampered by some sort of faecal mishap.

Captain Jack has really lost some spark in his latest outing.

Captain Jack has really lost some spark in his latest outing.
Voice work is reasonable, but there are occasions when the ‘sound-alike’ cast seems to be mumbling their way through the lines, sounding like drunken versions of their on screen counterparts. The music, on the other hand, benefits from its Hollywood roots creating what little atmosphere the game contains.

That all said there are some interesting levels. One off scenes, such as one on a raft, fending off enemies as you speed down a river, are great. They are, unfortunately, few and far between.

There are some extras thrown in to extend the gameplay. These range from collecting character models and cinematics to actual games, such as one where you’ll have to fend off a certain amount of enemies in a given time-frame, or just straight dueling. Any of the aforementioned character models can be thrown in these arenas which is amusing for the first 10 seconds of seeing extras take on main cast members in battle, but this is a short lived gag that wears thin very quickly.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ends up being a mash-up of almost all the gaming clichés we’ve seen up until now, sans space marines and bandanna wearing gangsters. Never totally terrible, it manages to muster up some moments that are enjoyable and slightly entertaining. However as an overall package it is generic and allows very little true involvement and immersion in the gameworld. It's a shame that for an IP that appears to have all the right ingredients to make a great videogame it has failed dearly.
The Score
It's a shame that a decent IP has succumb to so much average, derivative, and plain boring gameplay. 4
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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6 years ago
Oh my God....the visuals....they suck! Is it because you ave resized those images or do are they really N64 graphics?
6 years ago
El Taco wrote
Is it because you ave resized those images or do are they really N64 graphics?
Probably not, I've played the PS3 version and it also looks rather mediocre as far as visuals go. Don't get me started on the framerate! I really expected more from this game, if only the games could be as good as the movies. Not exactly likely I guess. It's a shame since the people who makes these games always seem to start off with a vision of how they're going to make the game entertaining, and intuitive, but then seem to fall flat. Not many ever seem to realise the potential that there is to make a great game out of the franchise.
6 years ago
They do look a little better when in motion. But overall the quality of them is fairly unimpressive.
6 years ago
Got a Wii review coming up, or should we just use this as the Wii review (same games with different controls?)
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