Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Seven Studios
Release Date: Q3 2006
In case you missed the memo the first time around, here’s another copy of it:
Pirates Are Cool.
Heck, just go ask Guilty Gear X’s Johnny, or the entire cast of Skies of Arcadia. Pirates are always fun to play as in video games. There’s just something about being able to break all the rules, play dirty, and fight as underhanded as one possibly can whenever one feels like it that translates wonderfully to the genre.
Few pirates are better at all of this than one Jack Sparrow, and he’s going to get his chance to prove his mettle in a number of upcoming video games. One of them’s the much-anticipated Kingdom Hearts II — but in another, he’s going to be the main attraction.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow will be released in concurrence with the upcoming sequel to the movie franchise. However, it will be more closely related to the first movie. In it, players get to hack and slash their way through a multitude of stages as either Jack Sparrow, everyone’s favorite rum-guzzling pirate, or Will Turner, (almost) everyone’s favorite straight-man.
If you’ve played the Lord of the Rings games or even King Arthur, you’ve got a bit of a primer as to what the gameplay in PotC will entail; however, Seven Studios has a few change-ups of their own in the pipeline. For one thing, there’ll be greater interaction with the environment than usual in games of this type. Let’s say you have some enemies attacking you from an easily breakable wooden balcony above you. Most games would force you to switch to whatever ranged attacks you have to take them out. Jack Sparrow, however, doesn’t have to settle for this, as he’ll be able to just get rid of the enemy’s perch with a few well-placed aerial attacks, or even a few hits to support beams and ropes closer to the ground. There are also tricks and traps scattered throughout the stages that Jack can take advantage of to get the jump on his enemies. Great care must be taken, though, because the AI in these enemies is set to be able to use those same traps on Jack as well.
In addition to being able to interact with the stages to thwart enemies, they will also be able to uncover hidden secrets, power-ups, and paths through stages. The stages themselves will be modeled after pieces of Jack Sparrow’s past and present life — we’ll finally be able to see if all of the tall tales he’s told of his exploits were actually true. Two-player cooperative play is also available, allowing Jack and Will to fight side by side. Much like other games in this vein, as one fights, they will be able to gain experience points, and use those to purchase new abilities and combination attacks. New attacks and abilities can also be unearthed using each of the game’s many-included weapons, most in the form of swords. Each stage will contain multiple objectives — one main, and others which are optional, but will often yield various benefits. How much of the game you actually end up experiencing will be up to you.
What we saw on the show floor was but a 20% pre-alpha build of the game, as its release date is still a ways off. Still, what was shown already looked more than competent in terms of graphics engine and AI. The environmental interactivity was also already being integrated nicely into the product — it’s easy to see that the developers were thinking of possibilities for it as they went along in creating their worlds, instead of tacking such functionalities on as an afterthought.
If you’re one of those folks who never gets tired of beating the stuffing out of a bunch of characters who had it coming, and enjoy some well-written dialogue on the side, PotC promises to be just what you’re looking for. You’ll be able to judge for yourself when it’s released for the PS2 and Xbox late next year — don’t worry, odds are, with the movie sequel, you’ll definitely still remember who Jack Sparrow is.