PS2 REVIEW: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE LEGEND OF JACK SPARROW

For a game that draws its inspiration from such an exciting movie, it just goes to prove that sometimes the sword is mightier than the pen. by Cole Smith

July 5, 2006 - Okay, I admit that was a weak attempt at a pun. I just thought that with the word "draw" in there, that you might be able to take it as a verb, and then I could get into that whole cliche thing about the pen and sword since there's lots of swordfighting in this pirate movie - and also in the game I might add. Like a poor carpenter that blames his tools, it's a bad comedian that has to explain his jokes. All I wanted to do was to convey to you that this game is not nearly as good as the movies, so get off my back...

Pirates of the Caribbean: Legend of Jack Sparrow screenshot

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow should not be confused with the theatrical release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. They deal with totally different stories. In a lot of cases I would prefer that a game based on a movie take a different course than that of the film. Sometimes the developers end up with a real mess when they are forced to follow the same plot. Some things just don't translate well to videogames. The developers have the right idea with The Legend of Jack Sparrow, but it's just not executed very well. The game attempts to have us gain some insight into the colorful character of the legendary pirate made famous by the amazing talents of Johnny Depp. Mr. Depp even recorded new dialog exclusively for this game. But don't let the hype fool you. The gameplay revolves primarily around swordfighting. We do get some insight into Sparrow's past but it's more of an appetizer than something that you can really sink your teeth into.

At the beginning of the game, Jack is waiting to be hanged at the gallows with his partner-in-crime, Will Turner. It appears the two of them were framed while searching for some treasured jewel. Jack regales his audience with tales of his past, which manages to keep him from meeting his maker. The more tales he tells the longer he lives. It's these very tales that set the game a' sail. If you recall, Mr. Sparrow has a very selective memory, selective to the point of selecting things that didn't exactly happen. These "embellishments" make for some interesting situations, but at the same time we can never be fully assured of fact from fantasy. There are times when it's obvious, and occasionally some of the other characters will flatly deny their involvement with some tales. This is a great device that could be used to put Jack in virtually any situation but it's not fully exploited. I was expecting things to get really insane.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Legend of Jack Sparrow screenshot

Jack's tales of adventure take us around the world, and even includes some incidents from the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl. You will take part in treasure hunts on land and set sail for the seven seas on your pirate ship. You will perform platforming, exploring, collecting, puzzle solving and the playing various mini-games but the bulk of the gameplay will be combat. The preferred method of combat among swashbucklers is swordfighting. Using several knives, daggers and other bladed weaponry, you will have only a few basic moves at your disposal. You can link combos together, and perform other moves such as blocking, rolling and throwing items such as axes and fish. Most of these moves are enough to take care of most enemies but it tends to get repetitive. Even though you can upgrade some of your moves and amass a great arsenal, the control system seldom rises above that of a button masher.

Jack loves company, so you're never alone in this game. You can play with another player in the co-op mode and have them play as both Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, or you can be accompanied by an AI-controlled companion if you loath human companionship. The bot does a great job of staying out of your way. It won't die and you can actually take control of it, although it doesn't have the same abilities as Jack. As I mentioned, Jack's moves can be upgraded, but you have to get your hands on some money first. You can acquire cash by slaying the enemies, breaking open crates and locating treasure chests. Even though there are lots of different elements to the game including the upgrades, mini-games and unlockable, they just seem like sprinkles atop a huge hack-and-slash layer cake.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Legend of Jack Sparrow screenshot

The enemies are many and varied. You'll fight an interesting collection of standard pirates, pirate ghosts, skeletons, samurai warriors and other strange creatures such sand monsters. Characters from the movie abound but Depp is the only one to lend to his voice talent to the game. Where's Orlando? Too big for his britches I suppose? Depp puts in a less-than-stellar performance. He doesn't deliver enough excitement or a fraction of the personality to the character that he does onscreen. The animations of Jack are somewhat exaggerated as he lurches, stumbles and moves suspiciously like a badly-animated videogame character. Sure, we know it was intentional.

For a game that was inspired by a movie that was inspired by a theme park ride that was originally inspired by a book, The Legend of Jack Sparrow is less than inspired.

Features:

  • Co-op Multiplayer –– Take on the challenge with a friend and play side-by-side as Jack Sparrow and Will Turner.
  • Live the Past –– Did Jack really sack Nassau Port without firing a shot, or ride away from a deserted isle on the backs of sea turtles? Now you''ll find out, first hand!
  • Uncover new weapons -- Throughout your adventure you''ll be rewarded with new swords that allow you to unlock more advanced combos
  • Secret stuff –– Hidden passages, special coins, and other secrets await in each level for the player to discover and reveal
  • Use your head –– The action isn''t limited to swinging your sword, as you''ll need to use your head to avoid detection, or dangerous traps

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
Pirates of the Caribbean: Legend of Jack Sparrow (PS2)
3.0
Graphics
An average looking game at best. Looks about two years old. Some of the animation is stiff.
3.5
Control
Mostly a button masher. There is little depth to the controls but at least it will be accessible to a wider variety of gamers.
2.8
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Depp is the only actor from the movies to lend his voice to the game. He sounds uninspired.
3.0
Play Value
There are lots of unlockables, mini-games and upgrades but having to go through the repetitive hack-and-slash gameplay can be a bit of a deterrent.
3.0
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
 
Pirates of the Caribbean: Legend of Jack Sparrow box art
System: PS2, PC
Dev: 7 Studios
Pub: Bethesda
Release: June 2006
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best