Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow
Co-op play and loads of pirates sound like a match made in heaven. Toss in the swagger of Johnny Depp and you have a worthy companion to the popular movies. Or not. What you really have is a dreadful beat ‘em up that should be avoided like Davey Jones’ Locker.
It’s a shame that this game fails since the storytelling is surprisingly inventive. With Jack Sparrow and his bland compatriot, Will Turner (not voiced by Orlando Bloom), sentenced to hang, Jack decides to use his charm to postpone the execution. He spins an interactive traveler’s yarn to the spectators (and us, the gamers), complete with factual inaccuracies and gross exaggerations from what actually happened in the first movie. At one point there’s even another story within the story. Hearing the banter between Jack and Will adds some welcome self-referential humor, and the many one-liners hit the mark. The sheer entertainment of the storytelling almost helps remedy the fact nothing substantial from the sequel, Dead Man’s Chest, is anywhere to be seen in the game This is strictly based on the 2003 film, with many original events thrown in to pad out the length.
Now if only Jack’s tale didn’t contain so much repetitive action, spotty graphics, and an overall lack of polish. Fighting as Jack Sparrow and Will Turner (who is occasionally replaced with Elizabeth Swann, not voiced by Keira Knightley) just feels sloppy. This is inexcusable since everything is so simplistic. With a couple attack buttons, a mostly useless grapple button, and the ability to block and lock on, things really shouldn’t be so muddled. The lock on button is almost useless since the camera angle hardly ever hones in on the target, which leaves you fighting blindly. The blocking system is also rather bizarre. Trying to move while blocking causes the characters to pounce and leap about as if they were squirrels hopped up on caffeine.
The lack of fun is also a major issue. Swordplay should be elegant and visually engaging, and that certainly isn’t the case here. With enemies that like to get in large bunches and a frame rate that can’t keep up, things look like a messy orgy (and that’s not even a good orgy). Although there are upgradeable moves, the sheer amount of enemies makes it easier to simply mash, mash, mash. Although the locales are varied, from artic glaciers to the mythical Far East, the gameplay most certainly is not. There are far too many instances of rooms being mysteriously sealed off until all the enemies are defeated. A few minutes of firing a cannon at oncoming boats isn’t enough to add any worthwhile variation.
I suppose the developers realized this, so they implemented (most likely very hastily to coincide with the movie release) some brief events that require different button presses. Opening a treasure chest involves holding the X button, rotating a crank requires the analog stick to spun quickly, and that’s mostly the extent of it aside from some rare moments. There isn’t really a problem with any of this since it does mix things up a little, but the animations of these events are broken. A simple act such as pushing a boulder seems to be missing some frames of animation considering how much the characters stutter. While Jack and company can look like world-class acrobats in combat, they look like senior citizens when opening a treasure chest.
Other bizarre instances sprung up, and these proved to be more detrimental than the broken animations. During a cutscene one of the characters got stuck and I had to restart the level. Although each of the 24 levels are brief (the whole game only takes a few hours to beat), it was a major nuisance nonetheless. Also, I found out that there’s an easily exploited bug that makes it so there is an infinite amount of special attacks, rendering the game a total cakewalk. Worst of all was the A.I. during one of the last bosses. The boss was kicking my ass, but all of a sudden he stopped moving. All I had to do was mash the buttons over and over again and he never laid another scratch on me. So much for a climactic duel.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow is the exact opposite of the film series. While the movies feature lavish visual effects, the game does not thanks to a poor frame rate and second-rate animations. Although the movies have impressive action and swashbuckling swordplay, the game is burdened with a clunky fighting system that rarely delivers thrills. The only constant between the two mediums is Johnny Depp’s amusing portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow. While Mr. Depp was enough to rescue the flawed films, he’s not nearly enough to compensate for this lame game.
Four out of ten