PotC: At World's End Wii Review
As the summer movies hit it big time, you know there are going to be quite a few licensed video games from all of it. And every year there are disappointments; there just seems to be no way for publishers to launch a hit video game alongside a corresponding movie. It's happened plenty of times with Harry Potter and Spider-Man, and while these games do generally sell pretty well, they're mediocre at best once you put aside the movie hysteria. And it's the same again this year with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has been doing great in theaters and on DVD, but Disney has mismanaged and really had a hard time making games in the past. When Disney realized that the first movie was going to be a big hit, they quickly licensed a RPG for Xbox and PC from Akella that was originally called Sea Dogs II. With a quick addition of Jack Sparrow's ship, the Black Pearl into the end-game sequence, the first PotC game was so loosely based on the movie that none of the real characters were even in the game. Then the second movie rolled around with no corresponding game to go with it; eventually a console action game was released by Bethesda that quickly recalled a few action sequences from the first movie and sloppily danced around the second movie with the most basic of button-mashing action.
And this third game finally has something to do with the movie it's launching alongside, and actually is coming out around the same time frame. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is available for all the major platforms, but I decided to choose the Wii version to see if its unique controls really added to the game or not.
And they do not. You'll play as bumbling hero Jack Sparrow as well as Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann plus one or two minor characters (none of which are voiced by their original actors). The Wii version's graphics are pretty ho-hum; I would have expected more out of a GameCube version of the game. Animations and action are basic for a button-mashing beat-em-up, and the cutscenes are pretty embarrassing - especially when the developers tried to simulate Sparrow's drunken stumbling and fluid movements.
But hey - the box does say you get to simulate the real sword movements of a swashbuckling pirate, so it can't be all that bad, right? Unfortunately, that's pretty much wrong. You play the game with the Wiimote to swing your sword and the Nunchuk to move, block, and interact. Shake the Wiimote up and down or left and right and you'll get one of a few sword swings. Move the Wiimote forwards for a finisher, or shake the Nunchuk for an attempt to grab and do something amusing to your opponent. As you progress new moves will be thrown in, but most of them do about the same amount of damage as your original moves. Since they're often harder to do, they're not really worth trying other than to just see them so you can feel like you got your money's worth. (Even after doing so, you still won't.)
The developers have tried to toss in a few extras like a set of unlockable items to keep you going as well as a few card and dice-based mini-games, but the extras are worth little and the mini-games have annoying, drawn out animations that make them just plain boring. Having the game switch characters for you should by all rights help the game out quite a bit, but you still will be using the same controls and doing mostly the same moves no matter which character you're controlling. The "Jackanisms" you do have you pressing buttons, much like God of War, in order to outwit your enemies. It's intended to be funny and very Jack Sparrow-like, but the sloppy animations along with the fact that you have very little time to press buttons or wave the Wiimote (and can't retry if you fail) drain what charm they could have had right out.
With some authentic music and almost-decent graphics, this game is good enough to fool your kids into thinking it's a worthwhile Pirates of the Caribbean experience. But for anyone looking for a good action/pirate game that stands on its own, this is definitely one to be avoided. It falls into many of the traps that movie-licensed games do, which if you're like me, you've gotten very sick of - especially after so many disappointments like this one.