Pirates of the Caribbean
Updated at 10:29 AM
Knowing full well in advance that this was originally Sea Dogs II, I really did not expect this to have all that much to do with the movie. I understood pretty much everything the game was meant to be. I knew that Disney had bought the game and that they might find some way to completely screw it over and I knew that it might be dumbed down from being a full fledged pirate game because of the Disney name. Something hurt in my side when I first started the game and saw the menus. First of all, the pain shot from my side to my eyes because the size of the text was meant to be read from 100 feet away, no less or you'd have to move your entire head to read a sentence. Anyway, to continue with the horrors of the user interface, I wanted to change the controls a bit because after looking at them, the pain moved straight from my eyes to the back of my head. Everything got a little better when I started the game because the graphics really were an eye opening experience. But I'll get to those later. So now that we've gotten past the menus and into the game, let's move on to how it plays!
When you first start the game (especially if you use default controls) you'll pick up your keyboard and repeatedly whack yourself in the face with it. After any household pets examine your behavior and contemplate whether their owner has gone mad and won't feed them anymore, you'll finally get the hang of all the keys. After you memorize where every function is and exactly what it does, you'll start to appreciate the game a little bit more. Getting past the annoying tutorial with your buddy pirate man teaching you (the captain of the ship) how to fight and sell/buy stuff is a pain, but once you do, the game opens up and offers quite a bit of fun. Believe me, it is really fun to board the enemy's ship and steal all of their goodies, not to mention the best one of them all... the ship itself! It's GTA on the seas, my friends! GTA ON THE SEAS! Of course it's not as easy as opening the driver-side or passenger side door and kicking the driver (captain) out. You gotta fight through the whole entire crew of the ship, with your own crew backing you up. Fun, if you ask me. Although the hand-to-hand combat is a bit dull, you'll find it interesting with the pistols as you can dodge back a few steps to have just enough time to put a bullet into your opponent. Anyway, the sea battles could take some time, but there is a key that speeds up time slightly so you don't have to be too patient. It's fun to put a bunch of holes in the other ships when you have a battleship. Turning into that firing position on a ship 3 times smaller than yours and firing every cannon on that side into the little shrimpy ship, sinking it with only one hit of the space bar key is very very fun. Not to mention that leveling up gives you really neat abilities that let you board the other ship without having to get too close. It is open-ended (like Morrowind) but it's just so much less complex. Plus after you beat the game, you're screwed with the exploring aspect. But there is a user-made patch that allows you to continue playing even after you beat the whole entire thing. That's the great thing about this game, it can be modified to your heart's content! Anyway, you've got some very basic elements of buying and selling stuff (including personal items and ship cargo). That's all simple and well. Let's move on to the sound.
Sound effects really aren't that great. In fact, they might as well suck! The only funny things I like are some of the spoken words people have (that have nothing to do with the text you read, basically). The FX are sufficient. They won't give your ears any real pleasure, but you won't really need to turn off your speakers (or the sound in the game's menu). Cannon sounds are weak, but there is a user-made mod that fixes that. That's pretty much all there is to say about the sound. It's just not where the game shines.
The music is also not so great. It has some nice tunes, like when you get caught in a storm or battle, but the on-shore tunes are very very tropical and don't have any memorable melodies. It's enough to keep you busy, but you won't be having too much fun sitting there and listening to the high production value of the musical elements in this game.
This is what I really like. I really really like this part of the game. Very much. Makes me happy. The game is beautiful. The open sea is gorgeous, the towns are well made. The only thing that hurts it is the main character's inability to change clothes. What I really like are the water effects, including all the little goodies like the reflection of the sun and moon. Very beautiful. The ships are also modeled very well. One of the things you really won't be paying much attention to is how each sword varies. Because they pretty much do not - they all look generally the same while you're playing the game (though the inventory tells you what damage your sword can inflict). The other good thing about this game is that it runs smoothly. Graphics at max, with some AA and AF and you've got some nice quality graphical elements to make you really really happy. Eye candy this great is very welcome.
Anyway, to conclude, I find this game to be fun, fairly challenging (not really, though), and if you could get past the hurdles in the beginning, you might find this adventure well worth it. You should definitely give it a shot before Voodoo Islands comes out (which is very very soon). Hell, try it out just to see how pretty it is! But do not forget to download a lot of the user mods from the Bethesda Sea Dogs forums. http://seadogs.bethsoft.com is where you should visit the message boards and read about the little goodies everyone came up with. So if you do decide to take a look at this game, have fun with your adventuring and don't pillage too many villages =P
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