Yo Ho, Ho Hum.
Movies based on video games routinely result in spectacular failures, easily staking claim to some of the lowest moments in the history of film making. Yeah, Uwe, I’m looking at you.
Basing a movie on an amusement park ride, though, sounds even lamer. But in a wildly unlikely fluke, it’s actually turned out rather well, thanks in no small part to some cool special effects, a classic swashbuckling story and a gold-toothed, show-stealing, inebriated Johnny Depp.
[image1]So how about a video game based on a movie based on an amusement park ride? It’s not what you’d call a winner. Despite the not-so-coincidental timing, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow has nothing to do with the movie sequel, Dead Man’s Chest. This game is actually based on the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which is fitting since Bethesda’s buggy first Pirates of the Caribbean game was actually Sea Dogs 2 hoisting a different flag at the last minute.
And like the first movie, it’s the wobbly Jack Sparrow (“Captain Jack Sparrow!” I can hear him shouting from behind me) who takes center stage. Voiced by Johnny Depp, this is a loose retelling of the events in The Curse of the Black Pearl. Only now it’s being recounted by Sparrow to an enthralled crowd while standing on the gallows, noose about his neck.
As such, he takes several “liberties” with the events as they may or may not have happened. A jumbled mishmash of stories within stories and adventures within adventures, the plot is actually quite fun. Co-stars Will and Elizabeth appear in places and in roles where they could not have possibly been (a point they often bring up with slurring Jack). It’s a humorous concept, made funnier by Depp’s narration, and is the best part of the game.
Because when Jack’s not talking about his exploits, you’re playing through them in a poorly done, mindless action mishap. Every level pairs Jack up with either Will or Elizabeth who can be controlled by either a friend or by the computer. You can switch between the characters in solo mode, but whichever character isn’t under your direct control is a total moron. Instead of sporting real A.I., the computer-controlled characters simply cannot be damaged below half health. How handy.
[image2]Not that it really matters, because cutting down the endless stream of pirates and evil Spaniards is as easy has pressing the X button over and over again. With gold you can buy two ‘upgrades’ that make the game’s few sword moves a bit more powerful, and they threw in a useless block button to make it seem more interesting. But who needs to parry when hammering on X works so well?
It’s a good thing the game’s action is so inane, because you’ll be fighting hordes of unseen enemies as the wildly unhelpful camera swings about drunkenly. And while the main characters look like their movie counterparts, the rest of the graphics look very mediocre. The textures are simple and grainy, and the moonlight undead pirate effect they tried to pull from the movie is just plain broken. So is the hit detection; finishing off a fallen enemy often involves brutally stabbing the ground next to them. Take that, foul dirt! Apparently the programmers enjoyed a bit too much of Jack’s rum.
The sound fares better with an appropriately anthemic soundtrack inspired by the movie. Depp’s storytelling is great, and even the other never-heard-of-them voice actors do a good job.
At least you won’t have to play this weak game for very long because it’s short, linear, and has no multiplayer. Even a drunken sailor knows what to do when faced with this kind of fool’s gold. Anybody got a plank?