Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Wii
Published by: Disney Interactive Studios
Developed by: Eurocom
Release Date: Out Now
Seeing as the Wii has now been with us for over seven months you would have thought there would have been many more games available now. In actual fact the games have arrived in drips and drabs and many of them that have been released haven't made great use of the unique control scheme that the Wii offers. Over the next few months things should definitely improve however. Last week we looked at the impressive Mercury Meltdown Revolution and before long we'll have the latest Mario Party game as well as some of the other highly anticipated first party titles. In the meantime we have Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End that promises dynamic swordplay using the Wii remote. In theory at least, it should be a lot of fun.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is based on the events, characters and locations that were present in the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies. In the game you'll get to play as Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. As well as the story mode there are challenge and duelling modes to unlock. Duelling can be played with two players if you prefer, although you'll need a second nunchuk attachment in addition to a second Wii remote. Challenge mode offers combat, combo and loot challenges and can also be played against a friend.
Naturally with this being the Wii version of At World's End, most are going to be concerned with how well the game plays as you're using the motion-sensing capabilities of the Wii remote. The game allows you to perform a nice range of attacks with the Wii remote including Focus, Range, Barge and Block Breaker attacks. You'll be moving the remote in upward and downward as well as side to side motions. Forward thrusts are also required too. The game makes use of the nunchuk attachment and you'll use the analogue stick to move, the Z button to block with the C button being used to interact with objects. A variety of moves such as the Olé make use of the block button and require you to use the block technique and it works rather well. At times the game doesn't always appear to register your movements as accurately as it should and it's surprising just how vigorously you'll have to move the remote at times but it's certainly an interesting control scheme that works fairly well. You do have access to other weapons such as pistols and knives and grenades but the for the most part you'll be using your swords to see off your enemies.
At certain points in the game you'll have to perform what's known as a Jackanism. When you're called on to perform a Jackanism you'll have to press the relevant buttons and carry out the relevant movements with the Wii remote and the nunchuk analogue stick as the icons appear on the screen. This kind of thing has been seen before of course but whilst it's not a unique feature, it does provide a welcome change of pace from the sword fights. If you complete these Jackanisms you'll make light work of your enemies and probably unlock a few items in the process. If you fail them however, the game simply leaves you to defeat your enemies in the usual sword fighting way. This makes a refreshing change from games such as Spider-Man 3 that forced you to redo the whole section again if you made an error. There are also a few mini-games thrown in such as Pirate Dice and Pirate Poker which help to break up the monotony of the sword fights somewhat.
The game has a lot of potential to be a highly enjoyable experience. However, there are several issues that prevent the game from being anything more than a fair effort. As we'll see in a moment, the graphical quality of the game is disappointing. However, that's not where the game really disappoints. The main problem with At World's End is that it's just so repetitive. The game is really comprised of liberal doses of Jackanisms and mundane sword fights that don't feel as good as they should. The game's story feels disjointed. I haven't seen either of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and at times it was difficult to understand exactly what was going on. I'm sure it won't be a problem for those that have watched the movies but nevertheless, that's no excuse for the game to tell its story in such a disjointed fashion. The game also doesn't always make it crystal clear what needs to be done and on your first play through it's pretty much guaranteed that you'll find yourself fighting wave after wave of enemies because you haven't been told exactly what needs to be done. There are many points in the game where you'll have to perform context sensitive actions. You'll often see a yellow circular icon that you'll need to stand on, and press your C button, in order to perform the action. The problem is that the game is a bit finicky about where you'll need to stand. There are numerous occasions where standing on the yellow icon and pressing the C button won't do anything. I usually found myself having to place the character to the side of the icon before the C button icon appeared (pressing the C button won't do a thing until the icon appears), which was a little irritating.
It's difficult not to be a little disappointed with the graphical quality of At World's End. The graphics aren't particularly poor, they just aren't any improvement on what one of the last generation (PS2, Xbox or Cube) consoles could have achieved, in fact, had this game been of the same graphical quality on the previous range of consoles, you may have been disappointed with how it looks. The textures used in the game are particularly disappointing. The various environments you'll play in all look far too angular. There are a few animation glitches here and there too. To be fair to the game the load times are quite short and the frame rate holds up pretty well. You don't have control over the camera and at times this can be a nuisance but for the most part it's OK.
Deaf gamers should be fine with At World's End. The game does offer subtitles and you'll be able to follow the game's storyline thanks to the cutscenes being subtitled. The text is placed on a darkened overlay making it easy to see at all times, regardless of the background colour. The cutscene dialogue doesn't have any character names next to the dialogue so it's not always crystal clear who is saying what although in fairness this never causes any problems. All important dialogue is subtitled. Tutorial messages are shown in text meaning you'll be able to learn the controls as you play if you prefer not to read the game manual (although to be fair the manual has been pretty well written and explains the various aspects of the game in a no-fuss manner). Some speech isn't subtitled. Taunts given during fights are not subtitled. There are times when Jack will make comments and these aren't subtitled either. In fairness these comments aren't of any important although it would have been great for deaf gamers to have been aware of them.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End feels like it could have been so much more. The storyline could have been more coherent and progressed in a more natural way to allow those who haven't seen the last two films to fully appreciate the story. The control scheme does a decent job but it's difficult to argue it's anything special or whether it's more effective than a traditional gamepad control scheme. Then of course you have the graphics which simply don't look as though they are making the most of the Wii hardware. I'm sure fans of the movies will enjoy what's on offer and even with the aforementioned problems it still manages to be a decent action title. The real disappointment is that it's nothing more than a middling action game when it had the potential to be something really enjoyable.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is, despite its problems, a decent action game. However, you can't help feel it could have been so much more.