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Online since 1997

The Legend of Jack Sparrow
by Neal Stevens
September 24, 2006

Jack Sparrow (Captain Jack Sparrow) is back on the big screen and in a new game. The first "Pirates of the Caribbean"  game was originally set-up by developer Akella to sell as Sea Dogs II. Savvy marketing guys saw the opportunity to tie-in a pirate game with the pirate movie. It did not have any real references to Capt. Sparrow or the movie but along with characters to quest, it did give the player control of sailing ships and naval battles. This second POTC game, titled The Legend of Jack Sparrow  (that's Captain Jack Sparrow)  is the opposite: you have Capt. Sparrow (voiced to varying degrees of effectiveness by actor Johnny Depp) and his friends Elizabeth and Will Turner (voiced by other actors) to play in a role-playing quest that chronicles other adventures not covered in the two films. But other than some cutscenes and a few swordfights on the deck, no there are sailing ships in this game, savvy?

 

The quest begins as Sparrow and Turner search for a rare artifact. Their adventures cross some of the storylines from the original movie with new locales in villages, forts, caves, mines, and jungles. Each episode involves a lot of swordfighting with a steady flood of AI ghouls, enemy pirates, incontinent Spaniards, and redcoats. After a while, constantly clicking the mouse to whack generic opponents gets old and repetitive. There are instances where you get to shoot a cannon, but mostly you swordfight.

 

Your fighting skills consist of a few basic sword thrusts and combos, along with Jack's "grog bombs" and hatchets (although I spent hours trying to figure out which key throws the axes). Jack has a special tactic--he spits rum on the blade of his sword and sets it on fire. Looks pretty and takes out opponents with one swing. Speaking of looking pretty, the game graphics are adequate and the cut scenes worth mentioning.


Swordfights, expect a lot of them
 

The loveable rogue is the main reason to play this game

Press ... where is the star key on my keyboard??
 
 
Finger? Circle back? What's that dot thing mean?? Arrgh!
 

There is some puzzle-solving required to open gates and treasure chests. You collect pieces of a map and upgrade weapons. But none of the challenges are very difficult, they're just steps to complete.

 

The biggest aspect for criticism are the game controls and interface. Probably because this game was developed for the Playstation2 as well as the PC, the controls were confusing and the slim game guide was not much help. The ASWD keys controlled the character's movement but some of the onscreen icons baffled me. Which key on a keyboard equates to a circle with a star in it? After much experimenting, I discovered that the icon with one sword was the left mouse button, the two swords icon was right click. This is pretty basic stuff, I can't see how this was released without someone saying "shouldn't we list the icons and their meaning in the game guide?"

 

This is an arcade game, so the treasure chests are filled with gold health power-ups to sustain your character. Expect your vanquished foes to turn into coin purses that you collect with a "ka-ching" sound. Unlike the previous Pirates of the Caribbean game, just like my daughter's Sonic games. Likewise, the game is too limited and linear to give the player a satisfying sandbox adventure. It makes me wonder--do the designers of this game think that's the style that will appeal to the widest audience?  I would have found it more enjoyable if the game was aimed at an older demographic, minus the arcade elements and with more thoughtful combat.

 

That may not be extremely detrimental in a game that is primarily about the personality of the erratic and charming pirate. Depp's performance occasionally seems out of synch and at times, flat, and the lines he is given are uninspired. But it is a testament to the charisma of the Capt. Jack character that even with linear gameplay and a mood-killing console feel, the Legend of Jack Sparrow is mildly engaging.

 


Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

 


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