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About the product
- Most dynamic swordplay ever - Use your cunning and savvy to become the greatest pirate of all time
- Play as Captain Jack, Will and Elizabeth to unleash a variety of attacks
- Use your cunning and savvy against the most notorious villians of pirate lore
- Jack's fame as a pirate increases as he strikes fear and admiration into the hearts of his pirate brethren
- Interactive surroundings - real physics and dynamics enliven both armed and unarmed combat
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Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End PS2
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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (POTC: AWE)is a liscenced video game based on the film of the same name, and like so many other movie video games, it is a beat-'em-up brawler that has you going down fairly linear paths while cutting down hundreds of enemy pirates, British soldiers, fish-men, etc. while being graded on how well you do so you can become more nortorious...or something like that. Gameplay consists of running around and slicing your foes to pieces while trying to stay alive.
Although the box title may say, "At world's end", POTC: AWE really covers the second and third films from the 'Pirates' trilogy. You begin in that creepy prison that Jack escaped from in 'Dead Man's Chest', except that you get to find out exactly what he did to escape. Afterwards, you'll reply the events from the film, going to Tortuga, Isla Cruces, fighting the Flying Dutchman, and eventually taking on the fearsome Kracken. After that, the game then switches to telling the events from the third film, only without huge amounts of talking and a lot more action. You'll go to Singapore, visit Davey Jones's locker, and eventually engage in the final battle on the edge of the enormous whirlpool. While going through the missions, you'll quickly notice that the story of the films has been redone in a faster pace then the films, along with taking some liberties for the storyline. The biggest change is that Jack is, in addition to seeking out the heart of Davey Jones, trying to find all the pirate lords that will eventually meet up near the end of the third film. So for most of the events of 'Dead Man's chest', you'll be finding the pirate lords as often as you'll be looking how to stop Davey Jones. I like this idea because it really helps tie the storylines from film two to film three together and makes them feel like a very good build up to a big finale. In addition to retelling the story, the game also makes some changes to locales seen in the films. Davey Jones's locker is now filled with the remains of dozens of sunken ships, as well as bones of giant animals (and we get to see the locker's hellish side, which wasn't in the film), and roaming around shipwreck city is amazing, due to the sheer number of wrecks all mashed together.
Levels are for the most part, very simple. You start from Point A and have to get to point B, though half the time you often go back to point A after getting to B. Levels are, in general, linear, but more often then not there are occasional side paths you can take to help mix things up and see different locales. Usually it's quite simple to figure out where you're going and what you're doing.
Like so many other games of this type, POTC: AWE is a standard fighting game and it gets the job done. There's really nothing wrong with it's combat system, in that it's easy to get the hang of, that there are just about the right amount of combat moves to pull off, etc. While fighting your way through the levels, you'll usually be taking on three foes at once. And while Jack (and the other characters you play) can take a fair amount of damage, they can still fall quickly if you aren't careful. One thing that distinguishes POT: AWE is that you MUST learn how to block enemy attacks if you are going to survive. Your foes here won't hesitate to attack you if your back is turned and will quickly gang up on you. Yet even then you also have to master fighting back, because of a rather innovative blocking system. You can only block enemy attacks so many times before your ability to do so is temporarily depleted, as each blow knocks away at your ability to block. You have to go on the offensive or avoid combat for your ability to go back up, which is a nice twist that allows for a good balance between defensive and offensive fighting. In addition to the innovate use of blocking and attacking, there are only four combo attacks in the game. While some may think that's a very small amount, I find it refreshing, as I don't have to memorize upwards of thirty attacks when trying to hold off several fish men who want to chop me to pieces. Furthermore, you also have some additional weapons at your disposal, such as throwing knives, pistols, and grenades (not modern ones mind you) to help out in combat. While using them isn't required, it's a nice touch that helps make sure the game isn't just pure swordplay. For being a standard hack-em-up game, POTC: AWE does a good job at living up to it's style of play.
In addition to the combat, POTC: AWE offers some additional diversions when roaming around the levels. You can often find NPCs to talk to, most of whom will give you a task or a favor to ask of you, which you can choose to accept or not. Some of these tasks range from finding lost husbands to distracting bar owners while rum is snuck out from under their noses. In an nice touch, you can also sometimes make choices within choices, such as with the bar owner. You can agree to distract him, but then proceed to tell him that someone is planning to rob his rum, upon which he'll thank you for your goodness and reward you with some money (and in the world of pirates, money is always good!). But if you're not careful, you could run into those thugs later, and they won't be happy. In addition, there are also some card and dice playing mini-games that you can try out, but they are completely optional and not required to complete the game (which is good, because I personally stink at playing card games).
In addition to these side quests, you also have the chance to participate in what the game calls "Jackinisms". These are timed sequences where you have to press a button at the correct moment in order to advance, usually through some crazy, zany sequence that showcases Jack Sparrow's cleverness. Unfortunitly, these sequences aren't very enjoyable, mostly due to the fact that the game is notoriously unforgiving in timing. You only have one chance to do the sequence right, because if you make even one mistake, you fail and don't get another chance (unless you replay the level). At times you have only a half second to press the displayed button while other times you get a second. This inconsistency leads one to dread each sequence because you don't know if your reflexes will be razor sharp to keep up with the displayed buttons (and in a sad twist, your eyes will be fixated on the corner of the screen that displays the buttons, rather then watching the sequence being played out in front of you).
And if that wasn't enough, the game also offers an incredible amount of unlockable content for you to get. Some of these include extra characters, swords, etc. that you get to use when replaying the game. This is one of my favorite features of POTC: AWE, because all the characters you unlock are playable in the main story missions, which can lead to some very funny and amusing "What if?" scenarios, such as what would would happen if Sao Feng went toe to toe with the Kraken, if Governor Weatherby Swann took on Davey Jones in one on one combat, if Davey Jones personally stepped foot on Isla Cruces to retrieve his heart, etc. Almost every character from the films is here and playable, including Davey Jones himself (my personal favorite character). And in one amazingly awesome touch, each character is in every cutscene in the game. So if you're playing as Davey Jones instead of Jack Sparrow, you'll see Jones acting out what Sparrow did, whether it be looking at his compass, paddling around in a coffin and even getting spanked by women, all of which are surreally funny.
With all these features, POTC: AWE sounds to be a fantastic game and it is...in short spurts. Unfortunitly, even with all the work that went into the game and the efforts made to vary it, the essential core of the game is the same: Run around and slice everyone to pieces. You'll do this in the first level and continue doing it until the very last. You fight other enemies, three at a time, until they are dead, then repeat. The first time you play through the game, this isn't an issue, but replaying levels reveals this issue. While a level may be fun and enjoyable the first time through, it isn't as fun the second time around due to the fact that you know what's going to happen, that you're just going to go from area to area fighting many enemies in the same fashion. Because of this, POTC: AWE is best played in short bursts, rather then in long sittings.
If there are other issues in the game, it would be in the story and the way it's told. While the outcomes are the same for movies 2 and 3, the way we get there is not very well told. When you begin the game, there's a cutscene of Jack waking up in a cell, then the scene ends and you're in a prison with no explanation of how you got there. Most cutscenes are very short and move at breakneck speed, making it feel rushed. It's a very good idea to know the plot of the films, otherwise you might be scratching your head while trying to figure things out. In the end, the storytelling of POTC: AWE could use a lot of work and touch-ups to improve it.
The only other quibble I have is in regards to your mission objectives. While the main goals are easy enough to follow, there are side missions in each level that you can undertake to unlock more unlockables. The problem arises in that you aren't told what these sub-missions are until the mission is over. Common sense says that it's a good idea to tell players what optional missions are available during the game, not after a mission has been finished.
But in the end, POTC: AWE is a fun, if repetitive, game that is definitely worth a rental. The graphics bounce around in terms of quality but are usually quite good, and the gameplay, despite it's shortcomings, is fun (but again, it's best in short bursts) But is the game worth a purchase? Personally, I'd say to wait until it is found for sale used, but it is at least worth a look, and definitely worth going through as a rental.
Also, there are bonuses called "Jack-anisms" where Jack must complete a series of goofy maneuvers to accomplish a goal. This is achieved by you executing a series of response commands quickly. If you get even one wrong you either fail the event in loss of points and are skipped to the next level, or are forced to do it over again until you get it right. This just isn't fun anymore.