PS2 Review: Pirates Of The Caribbean At World’s End

Players:1 - 2

Price: $39.99

Platform(s):PS2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, Wii, PC, DS)


Publisher:Disney Interactive Studios

ESRB: Teen


One of the biggest movies currently playing in theaters is Pirates of the Caribbean At World's End. So has Disney's interactive division cashed in on a cool cucumber with their PS2 movie-to-game spin-off? Well, the controls aren't too bad and the game is just under five-and-a-half hours worth of do you think that's enough for it to stand on its own two peg legs?

Sadly, there’s no better way to warn you about this awful mess than to say how much I hate this game. There’s so much crap in this title worth hating that it’s almost possible to never hate anything in your life ever again. What makes it so bad is that this could have been one of the very best PlayStation 2 games currently out on the market. But instead a dumb AI, lousy graphics and a complete miss of a soundtrack turned this into a very unpleasant experience.

We all know Made Man and Spider-Man 3 were bad games, no doubt. But even they had some redeeming qualities that – believe this or not, I’m not lying – actually makes me feel like wanting to play them every once in a while. Pirates of the Caribbean, alternatively, is a game that looked to have high hopes, but turned out to be one of the very worst movie-to-game transitions I have ever played. When I feel like playing it, it turns out I actually feel like playing Dynasty Warriors instead.

What’s funny, though, is how back in the day movie-to-game adaptations for the Genesis and SNES weren’t all that bad. The Lion King is still one of the best 2D platformers on the SNES (next to the little Italian plumber, of course) and the Jungle Book, Terminator 2: The Arcade Game and Judge Dredd (the one on the Genesis) were all fairly entertaining in their own rights. They had drawbacks like any other game out back then, but they were still good games...unlike the recent pile of poop we’ve been receiving.

In this case, Pirates of the Caribbean is just a really, really bad adaption of not only the movie, but also of what an action-adventure game is supposed to be. The fighting – while mildly innovative – is highly shoddy. Sometimes blocking works and sometimes it doesn’t; sometimes combos will count and sometimes they don’t; sometimes you think you’re having fun, but then you realize that you’re not. Everything that could have been good about At World’s End turns out to be a hair-pulling pang.

Now you know us here at CB Games...the games we review are games we want to like, but if the game just isn’t liking us back, then there’s bound to be problems. With PotC, first of all, the story – if that’s what you wish to call it – is barely based on the movies. Snippets of the story are taken from certain aspects of the second and third film and tossed together to make up a jumbled incoherent mess. From beginning to end, if you haven’t seen the latest movie, you’ll be left confused, dazed and frustrated. Maybe it was done this way so people would go out and watch the movie. Heck, after playing this game you might hate the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise altogether.

The general gameplay is a lot like a toned-down version of Dynasty Warriors; it’s mostly hacking and slashing, repetitively. There are some fun moments interspersed between the constant fighting – for instance players can engage in small dice and card mini-games, or the short but fun segments called Jackanisms. They’re basically one-chance ways to get bonus items, and it’s a cinematic version of Dance Dance Revolution. Players must follow the on-screen buttons in correlation to the cinematic action events, and one slip-up and the segment ends. Small aspects like this and the one-on-one dueling save a little bit of face for this game, but not by much. I admit, the windmill fight scene between the Commodore (Norrington) and Jack Sparrow is very impressive (and fun) and the same goes for the entire ending fight sequence between Jack, Will and Davy Jones.

However, to participate in the rare and few fun aspects of the game you have to play through the not-so-fun, boring, repetitive, atrociously bad aspects of the game. There's sub-misisons scattered through each level, but most of them are variations of the same thing: kill X amount of guys, find X amount of loot, interact with X amount of items, or perform X amount of combos. The combos are the hardest sub-missions simply because the game seemed to be designed for more one-on-one battles.

Yet, for those of you still questioning just “how bad” this game is, I’ll run through a quick list for nay-sayers: Cinematics click off without warning and you’ll take damage during a fight. Nearly 98% of all the game’s objects are static and get in the way during fights, especially when trying to perform combos. There’s no jumping, so a lot of fancy moves or using the environment is out of the question. You can parry but not back attacks, so the bad guys always attack you from behind...always! Only four mindless, backstabbing enemies can be on the screen at once (even during the two-player games), so it makes it really difficult to perform anything more than a 25 hit combo. If you block it breaks your combo and if you don’t block you’ll get hit and it’ll still break your combo. If an enemy is blocking while you’re performing a string of combos, it’ll break your combo. Some combo moves take so long to perform that by the time they are performed, guess what? Yep, your combo is broken. All cinematic sequence voices go away if you pick anyone else aside from the designated character for that stage. And last but not least, many of the animations for this game are very choppy and that makes it tough to determine if the character is blocking or attacking.

If you honestly still aren’t convinced that this isn’t a great game (you may need help), it doesn’t take a genius to realize that, graphically, Pirates of the Caribbean is far below the standards of even the PS2. The character models look like really, really low-poly alpha versions of the 360/PS3's PotC game and the sound isn’t much better. In fact, I despised the sound more than I did the graphics (where was Hans Zimmer’s original Pirates theme?!) Instead of the original Pirates of the Caribbean theme song, we get bits and pieces of symphonic similarities of the PotC soundtrack and it’s just annoying. Added to that, the same tune seems to keep repeating – or a very bland variation of the same tune keeps repeating. Regardless, the soundtrack was tacked on obviously so the game would have music, but there’s nothing orchestrally aesthetic about the audio in this game.

There is one saving-grace and that's the included two-player mode. At least characters from within the challenge mode can be unlocked and used in any other mode in the game. I admit, it does add a little bit of flavor to what could have been a masterpiece of buncombe. In a way, all the features and items to unlock are mirrored to the likes of Rockstar’s The Warriors. But since the comparison was made, I have to go on and say that you do better getting The Warriors or Dynasty Warriors if you want a game of that sort.

Overall, though, if you really want to see Cap’n Jack Sparrow and crew, you do better going to your local movie theater. Otherwise Pirates of the Caribbean for the PlayStation 2, will do nothing more than put a hole in your wallet that you’ll soon quickly regret.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.