The Pirates of the Caribbean films
seem tailor made for video-game adaptations, but thus far they’ve all been far
from perfect. The game based on Curse of the Black Pearl, called just Pirates of
the Caribbean, was simply Sea Dogs 2 retitled, and was little more than a buggy,
pirate-y version of Morrowind. Games based on Dead Man’s Chest appeared on both
the PSP and DS, but both were simplistic brawlers that grew old quickly. At the
same time, the PS2 got Legend of Jack Sparrow, a generic hack-and-slash that was
quickly forgotten. Now, for At World’s End, every system is getting a version of
the game. I’m sorry to say the DS version is not going to break the streak of
After a quick tutorial set in Dead
Man’s Chest, the game picks up the plot of At World’s End, with Jack Sparrow
trapped in Davy Jones’ Locker and Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann out to rescue
him. These two characters are playable immediately, with Captain Jack unlocked
partway through the adventure. After the tutorial, you find yourself aboard your
ship, where you can adjust options, view the treasure (unlockables) you’ve
uncovered thus far, play a game of Liar’s Dice, practice sword fighting, or set
course for a new location.
Each location consists of explorable
areas filled with 3D adventure opportunities; there are plenty of enemies to
swordfight, ropes to climb and swing on, and treasures to find in every area.
Every activity you would expect from a modern 3D action-adventure, from stealth
attacks to platforming sections to lock-picking minigames, is represented here.
Although it’s all rather simplistic, it’s decent enough fun. Basic combat
consists of sword attacks and kicks, and the enemies block intelligently enough
to make it entertaining. Nothing here is going to knock your socks off, but it’s
all fun enough, in a bland, repetitive way.
Boss battles are special, however.
When you encounter boss characters, the game switches to a one-on-one sword
dueling system. In this mode, you can attack from above, left, right, or below
with lines drawn on the touchscreen, and block your enemy’s attacks from those
directions with the face buttons. Special moves are learned between missions and
are executed by drawing more complex patterns on the touchscreen. This mode is
an interesting take on combat, but is fairly flawed. Blocking occurs immediately
upon pressing the appropriate button, but drawing slashes on the touch screen
causes a notable delay before the attack is carried out. This causes some funny
timing problems, leading these fights to become, at times, difficult and
The game’s minigames have problems,
too. The chest-lockpicking minigame is decently fun; drawing a line past
tumblers before they close is engaging, but not really difficult enough to pose
any challenge. The minigame for unlocking doors, though, involves putting gears
in the correct place and turning them the right direction to raise the lock.
It’s boring from the first time you encounter it and really doesn’t add anything
to the experience. The third major minigame, Liar’s Dice, is the classic dice
game, which is fun enough for a while, although matches can tend to drag.
The graphics are nothing to write
home about. Environments are blocky recreations of the film’s locations, and the
character models are blocky versions of the principal actors. Animations are
somewhat stilted, although Jack Sparrow retains his trademark swagger. The
game’s music consists of themes from the films, and can be exciting and fitting
at times, but tends to loop fairly often.
Movie-based games have always had a
reputation for being low quality, but in recent years the quality has improved
somewhat. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End isn’t legendarily bad like
some film-to-movie conversions, but neither is it remarkable. What it is is a
perfectly decent, altogether bland and forgettable action-adventure. Fans of the
film might find something to enjoy here, but casual fans should likely steer
Review Scoring Details for Pirates of the Caribbean:
At World’s End
3D, third-person action-adventuring like you’ve played plenty of times before.
It doesn’t take many chances or try anything really original.
Blocky 3D models animate rigidly in low-detail environments. The graphics here
get the job done, but certainly don’t capture the visual flair of the movies.
Songs taken from the film play throughout. They fit each scene fairly well, but
a few are repeated way too often. Sound effects are lackluster.
Although the platforming sections and boss fights can get frustrating, nothing
here is going to give players much trouble.
These combat-heavy films obviously require an action game, but the player has
numerous opportunities to experience the adventure of a pirate’s life. Again,
it’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but it’s not done badly.
Some solid action could keep fans entertained for a while, although this one
will not be as fondly remembered as the film on which it’s based in years to