Friday, August 15, 2008

Pirates: At World’s End

It is a well known fact that any big budget movie that rakes in the cash at the box-office will soon be followed by a video game version that will strive to grab even more money off of us crazy, gibbering, wild-eyed consumers. Unfortunately, these movie-to-game conversions are always crap. Nearly.

So along came the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, a series of films that started out great, finished off merely okay, but, most importantly, ran off with so much loot from viewers that it would make Captain Jack Sparrow himself cry tears of joy into his bottle of rum. The video games to follow were inevitable, and now here we are already up to the game based on the last of the initial (sigh) Pirate movies, "At World's End".

If you were ever to compile a list of the greatest movie-based games ever, At World's End wouldn't even be fit to glimpse the very end of such a list.

Even though the game is titled "At World's End", the story starts from the beginning of the second movie and goes through to the end of the third; so in other words, you have to suffer through the events of two movies. Oh joy. If you've seen the movies you already know the plot of the game, but that doesn't mean you still won't get confused after watching all the disjointed cut scenes. For instance, in the first level you control Jack, and have to escape from prison. Then, for the second level, you suddenly find yourself playing as Will Turner, and you watch a scene that shows him rescuing Jack from being roasted over a fire.

Soon things will make about as much sense to you as a random episode of the appropriately-named Lost.
The gameplay consists of controlling Jack, Will, Barbosa, or Elizabeth and moving them through various locations from the movie, battling opponents, smashing open the odd crate and doing occasional side quests. For some reason, characters can't jump, and I am fairly confident in the thought that the decision to keep the character grounded was made solely to keep the player firmly in the level's confines, and save on time needed to design additional barriers to keep people from trying to actually explore the game world.

I had heard that the sword fighting was meant to be easy, but the A.I. I fought seemed to be firmly on to the fact that I was trying to finish the game as quickly as possible to get it over with, and constantly blocked just about all of my attacks. If that wasn't bad enough, my enemies sported an extremely nasty habit of jumping in at any opportunity to stab me through the chest while I was busy dueling with someone else or trying to operate some lever. Why couldn't they act like they do in all sword fighting movies, where they all stand back and simply watch as the hero duels with another enemy one-on-one?! And please don't tell me that this is where developers felt they needed to reflect the realism of pirate life! This is from the people who created the jump-less pirate?! YEAH.
The only thing worse than playing a bad game is playing a bad game that kicks your butt unfairly, and here Pirates delivers in spades.

Lazy development abounds, with a lot of key scenes from the movie absent, and other scenes taking cheap "reduce the animation" excuses, like showing your ship sailing away with character's voices played over it. Even when you finish the game (and then shout a whoop of joy and do cartwheels around the room), the lazy developers simply paste the credits over the screen you see when you're at the main menu!

Perhaps the greatest parts of the game lie in the "Jackanisms", which are scenes that play out where you have to press a button on the controller when prompted, and if you get it right you see some great displays of sword play and aerobatics. It's ironic, though, that the best part of the game is that which you don't have much control over.

If you're reading this review and still want to go buy the game, then go ahead, with my blessings. Just promise me you'll at least try not to buy the game at full price - for that truly is piracy - and I'll promise to keep your secret for 3 days. That ought be long enough to drive you back to the store, whimpering, to return it.

Bottom line? Don’t buy. Don’t rent. Avoid.


alex-ness said...

pheuw, at least I won't have to buy this one eventually.

Great review Brynna.

There was a time, for me, if not others, when any product from a franchise I loved would get me to buy it, and somehow I'd like it, on some level. But nowdays my taste is far more hard to please, so when I have no money it is actually "good" to find out something I might have liked won't cost me money. (I do not have a particular affection for Pirates/Carib but you could just easily say Star Wars or any franchise, they all have a myriad of products, some good, some ok, many bad.)

Brynna said...

If you like Star Wars, I've been planning to review a game that is actually pretty good. But you'll have to wait and see. :D

Thanks for the comment, and glad you liked the review.