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Disney Interactive  
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
From: Disney Interactive
For: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action, Adventure
ESRB Rating: Teen (13+)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
The third of Bruckheimer's Pirates of the Caribbean movies is finally upon us, and your cup of game-grog runneth over to coincide. Alas, while that grog certainly looks refreshing enough, it's mostly foam... Foaming grog = bad.
Posted May 30, 2007
The playable story of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End for Xbox 360 and PlayStation3 does a little backtracking and encompasses events from both the Dead Man's Chest and At World's End storylines and then goes on to include both events and locales beyond the scope of either film.

Unlike the movies, however, the games' primary problem stems from the fact that there's simply not enough going on, at least in terms of variety. Both The Xbox 360 and the rather-choppier PS3 version definitely succeed in nailing the look of the films, right down to the now-patented Depp Stagger/Swagger (the Wii version does no nailing, but rather staples the look of the film serviceably, but not particularly remarkably).

Gameplay in each, meanwhile, is more or less one continuous exercise in, well, repetition: One basic attack control is employed over and over to the point where each is enemy is weakened enough to be felled with a finishing slash.

Knives, pistols and even grenades are available (sometimes even necessary, as in the case of battling plagues of Kraken tentacles), but the act of simple grabbing foes and hurling them overboard -- or into other foes -- is more entertaining.

For a movie tie-in game, the story, if you care for such a thing, is stitched together by good-looking but not-terribly-coherent cinematics and isn't particularly easy to follow. Similarly (again, for those who care about the whole "story" thing), the authentic voice-talent of the principal characters is nowhere to be, um, heard; sound-alikes do not a franchise-enthusiast's day make.

For the most part you're Jack Sparrow, although you can control Will, Elizabeth and others, and sometimes you're juggling multiple characters, alternating control of them as the situation requires. This sounds cooler than it works out to be, mainly because trying to keep everybody alive is an exercise in frustration; left to their own devices, the un-controlled characters don't seem too keen on not being dead.

Boss battles are where the combat gets the most interesting, requiring you to use relatively-challenging counter-attacks. When you're not fighting in the well-rendered and sometimes exotic locales -- including the never-before-seen Singapore and some respectably sprawling, deckwide ship melees --, you're running and clambering about, collecting items for unlockable reward, and most of it is very linear, backtrack-repetitive, and queerly contrary to the notions of piratey Freedom that a certain Captain Sparrow claims to hold dear.

At World's End also offers some player-versus-player and cooperative fighting, which is a nice touch. Speaking of nice touches, the fighting animations in general are surprisingly visceral, hinting at a ferocity one doesn't normally associate with Disneyspace. It's all bloodless enough, of course, and the game is sprinkled throughout with alleviating cutscenes, the general humor of which embrace the hallmarks of the blockbuster movie franchise.

Of the three major console variants (not to be confused with the PC and handheld variants), none are really worth their weight in salt, though if you were to consider any of them, the recommended order is first the Xbox 360 version, followed by the PlayStation 3 version, which sports the same basic good looks, but choppier framerates and bolted-on SixAxis functionality. Finally there's the Wii version with its vexing control scheme that often teeters like a tipsy Jack Sparrow into the realms what you might call At Patience's End.

All told, dedicated would-be Pirates are better off waiting for the forthcoming Pirates of the Caribbean Online, which takes a much more freeform, MMO approach to the living world of the Pirates films. Hold out, me hearties, yo-ho.
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Bang for your buck:
Good Rental 
Poor New Purchase 
Ok Pre-played 
Good Bargain-bin Buy 

Score:  2.25  (out of 5)