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Bethesda Softworks






T (Teen)



July 2003



- Good pirate adventure
- Sailing your mighty ship
- Lots of atmosphere and different things to do



- No wenching?
- Boat combat takes much, much practice
- Manual needs way more information



Review: Pirates - The Legend of Black Kat (XB)

Review: Elder Scrolls III - Morrowind (XB)

Review: Star Wars - Knights of the Old Republic (XB)

Interview: Pete Hines, Pirates of the Caribbean



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Pirates of the Caribbean

Score: 7.6 / 10


pirates of the caribbean xbox review         pirates of the caribbean xbox review


It’s hard to write a review of a pirate game without descending into nonsensical pirate banter so I’ll get it all out of my system right now, me matey! Argh! Make ‘um walk ye plank! Inn keeper, grog me! Have ye ever bin to sea, Billy?

I feel better.

Pirates of the Caribbean actually has little to do with the movie but like the movie the action is all PG. Although you get to live the life of a pirate – sailing the seas, brandishing a cutlass, the usual pirate stuff – this is a censored pirate life. No painted ladies, extra salty language or dismemberment here, so if that’s what you’re looking for you’ll be sorely disappointed. But if you can get over that you’re in for some fun (along with some frustration).

Pirates of the Caribbean (PotC) allows players to pretty much do what they want to do. Want to randomly cut down innocent townsfolk? Sure! (Just be prepared for the




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consequences.) Like most open-ended role-playing games – most recently, Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind – you can drift through the game doing as much or as little as you want. The quests (tracked in your journal) range from acting as a goods transporter to getting involved in the whole Black Pearl situation, which played out in the movie, but there is a definite main story line.

Action is fairly split between land and sea (at least the way I


played). By far, the hardest and most frustrating part of PotC is acquiring the necessary skill to engage other ships on the high seas – this is no arcade rendition like in Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat. Part of the reason for this is the threadbare manual and absent ship tutorial. Since your ship is powered by wind, you have to be able to understand how to use it to your advantage (i.e. getting into position to unleash a volley of cannon fire) but there’s no solid way to do this other than jump in and start doing it. However, this is extremely frustrating because it can be hard to figure out what’s working and what’s not. And even after you’ve got a handle on what you’re doing, the ship-to-ship battles almost always end in your ship severely smoking (or sunk), even after you’ve outfitted and upgraded your ship with all the latest and greatest equipment. Some battles can be cut short by boarding the opposing craft and taking on the crew, which I totally recommend since you can plunder the hold (but this option is completely dependant on getting close enough to the enemy ship).

The land battles tend to be more satisfying, thanks to the clang of metal-on-metal, but they still take a long time to resolve (depending on your character skills and your own abilities). The control is mostly straightforward but you still have to pay attention to what you’re doing.


pirates of the caribbean xbox review          pirates of the caribbean xbox review

PotC’s environments are generally big and detailed, populated by a variety of NPCs. The game engine does a very good job with snagging the small details, while still being able to pan way-out and grab the majesty of the ocean. While on the sea you can zoom in to see the ever-important crew working on the deck, then zoom out to just admire the view. The music and general sound is top notch, too. No downsides to the presentation all-round.

But one other downside is the trading and purchasing system. Once again, the manual doesn’t give this enough coverage and the opening tutorial doesn’t do much to make up for it either. I spent nearly 45 minutes trying to buy a new spyglass before realizing what the hell I was doing wrong! Considering how important trading/shipping/ purchasing is, I’m left scratching my head as to why it wasn’t made easier to follow and use.

Going by what I’ve written above you probably think I found more to dislike about PotC than like. Even with it’s incomplete manual and it’s many frustrations, I still liked Pirates of the Caribbean. There’s much to do, places to see, buccaneers to slaughter, and mutineers to squash – all wrapped up in a colorful package. It probably won’t make you an RPG convert, but RPG fans should have some fun mastering the intricacies.

- Omni
(August 10, 2003)


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