previews\ May 19, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Pirates of the Caribbean - XB - Preview

E3 2003 First Look


So you’ve always wanted to sail the high seas, plundering towns, reveling in infamy for your nautical exploits, and of course wear the standard eyepatch and parrot on your shoulder.  For many of us, that dream ended when we realized we lived in landlocked Boise or grew out of our Blackbeard Halloween costume.  Bethesda offers a tidy solution: pick up a copy of Pirates of the Caribbean and let the adventures begin. 


Pirates of the Caribbean is an epic RPG title with some serious action-adventure elements.  Players will really be able to get into their role as king of the high seas with a variety of options.  Live the life of a pacifist and control trade in the oceans or rule the seas with a veil of bloodshed and terror.  The flexibility of the game allows for these opportunities and everything in between. 


Loosely based on the upcoming movie of the same name (Pirates the game takes place before the movie and features limited screentime of characters from the movie), Pirates of the Caribbean is a journey across the seas of the Caribbean and seven large islands with towns, pirate hideouts, and mysterious coves.  Much of the travel on foot looks familiar to Bethesda’s Morrowind series, with interactions in the town operating in similar fashion.  The developers have intelligently designed a simple system of navigating the towns easily to keep the focus on progressing through the game and not on mundane traveling from shop to shop.  The main locations of town hot spots, such as banks, shops, and taverns, can be arrived at simply with the click of an icon.  Not every spot has its own icon though, so you’ll have to hoof it to pick up those smaller mini-quests from locals. 


Where Pirates of the Caribbean really takes off is on the treacherous oceans.  Never before have I seen a weather system react and look so good.  The ocean is simply dazzling, and the skies are incredibly realistic day and night.  If you happen to encounter one of the several storms in the game, bring your Dramamine, because it’s a topsy-turvy world that publishers Bethesda Softworks and Akella have produced.  Along with high winds that damage your sails in real-time, twisting tornados will suck away crewmen, and lighting that splinters ship hulls, the enormous rocking waves are very challenging to contend with. 


When engaged in naval battles, ships can attack each other with their ships cannons or board each other for some saber slashing.  Defeated ships can be looted, scuttled, or even used for your own navy, but just make sure you have enough crew and officers to man the ship. 


If given a chance, Pirates of the Caribbean should surprise land-lubbers everywhere.  Its 20 – 40 hours of gameplay should keep pretend pirates plundering for a long time, and several more hours will be needed to complete the many sub-quests and side missions. 


Pirates of the Caribbean will be available at the end of June 2003.

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