“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” is a classic example of a movie tie-in that doesn’t need to be good, but just has to be available at the right time on the widest spread of platforms. Disney obviously hopes to cash in on the opening weekend fervor, never mind the bad word-of-mouth and worse reviews this game will deservedly get.
Developer Eurocom, a veritable sausage factory for licensed games, has done its usual job throwing passable artwork into an image processor and doing the bare minimum of actual game design. This thin exercise in hack-and-slash (sword, punch, sword, repeat) is padded with pointless item-collecting (“You have five of seven paprika tins”), all in the service of supposedly caring about one’s final score.
There are occasional duels that prolong the game by forcing the player into tedious timing tricks while a movie-like cutscene plays in the background. Some levels have the player juggling control of different characters, trying to keep everyone alive. The basic experience ranges from dull to frustrating.
The cutscenes and gameplay have almost nothing to do with one another except that both are drawn elliptically from “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End,” the second and third movies in the series. In fact, this game is misleadingly titled “At World’s End” considering half of it is spent playing the previous movie.
At least the game is relatively short — about six hours from the start of a new game to end-credits. The ratio of time spent watching both movies to time spent playing the game is right about 1:1.
The next-gen versions (PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3) do a good job with visually rich environments. The graphics don’t hold up so well on other platforms. The Wii version is particularly aggravating in its controls; players will have a tough time with their cutlass due to shoddy implementation of the motion-sensing Wiimote.
There’s also a disconnect in terms of what’s appropriate to get a T-rating, with a conspicuous lack of blood effects, but plenty of brutal skewerings and impalings.
Some of the animation is enjoyable. Witness the Johnny Depp polygonal model mincing about and staggering drunkenly. A quick button press during combat rewards the user with some slick swordplay. These animated stunts are somewhat exciting the first few times, but not so much the 500th.
Players interested in sword-play are advised to try “God of War” or “Prince of Persia” for good entries in the genre. But if nine hours of “Pirates of the Caribbean” just isn’t enough for you, the forgettable mediocrity of this videogame is the price you’ll have to pay.