Replay Value: 6
So with the Spider-Man 3 and Shrek 3 videogames coming out dreadfully boring, and highly cumbersome, now it's time to see how the last Pirates game stacks up. In the last of the movie-based videogame trilogies, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End actually fares better than the aforementioned two, although still falls way short of being worth the price of admission. This summer of licensed videogames has actually left me a little surprised, seeing as how all three videogames based on the most high profile movies came out below average. I was expecting at least one of the three to be decent.
Alas, the quick buck must be earned and movie games are always on the strictest of schedules. You can't delay a movie-based game, seeing as how it absolutely must coincide with the release of the film no matter the circumstances. Pirates is one of those games that had its circumstances avoided. Exactly like the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Spider-Man 3, a ghastly framerate practically destroys the entire experience, rendering Pirates 3 nearly unplayable on the PS3. Yet again, the PlayStation 3 version animates poorly, while the Xbox 360 seems to scroll along with a bit more smoothness. Switching between 720p and the 1080 resolutions makes little to no difference in framerate, either. Shame.
If it were not for the drunken framerate, Pirates 3 could've actually been a good game. It visually captures the look of the movie, and the sword-fights are pretty cool, if a bit boring some of the times. Still, you can clearly see a game that was on the right track during development, but the end result is an unpolished game that was rushed with mediocre puzzles and challenges. In the game you'll take control of three different characters, Jack, Will, and Elizabeth. During climactic moments, you'll engage in duels that'll require precision and thought, as opposed to just button mashing. The dueling is probably the game's highlight, although some may find it a little annoying.
A lot of the game seems very dated, as it can feel like a collect-a-thon a lot of times. You run around, solve some puzzles, collect some stuff, and move on. It's a formula that would've been passable back in the late 90s, but today, with our storage mediums at 40GB per disc, we need a more expansive title. Pirates 3 doesn't offer much of anything that's interesting, and that is unfortunate seeing as how the license is ideal for a massive and engrossing game (a'la Oblivion).
What can't be denied is that Pirates 3 is a very, very pretty looking game and it is the closest a game has come to matching the visuals of its movie counterpart. The game uses a mixture of real-time and pre-rendered cutscenes to unravel its story. The pre-rendered stuff seems to be using enhanced real-time content, with a result that is noticeably much nicer looking. The character detail in the pre-renders is absolutely astounding, and no character looks off and improperly detailed. Pirates 3 features, arguably, the best looking cut-scenes in a game to date. As far as the in-game stuff is concerned, it's pretty good. The main characters sport some really good looking details, although the non-playable characters (NPCs) often demonstrate rough spots in texturing.
The environments are showered with solid texture detail nearly everywhere you go. Not to mention the game's water looks gorgeous, leaving you feeling pretty thirsty. The framerate, as mentioned earlier, is the deal breaker here. Pan the camera around and you'll notice the intolerable chugging. The game's speed will crack down to what looks like less than 20 frames per second - abysmal. Play the game long enough, and it'll eventually start messing with your senses until you get a headache.
It's sort of a status quo to have movie-based games feature their respective actors commit to their virtual recreations. Pirates 3 does just that, and its execution in voice acting is leagues ahead of what we heard in Shrek 3 and Spider-Man 3. Shrek 3's biggest problem was that the characters weren't voiced by the actual cast of the movie. While Spider-Man 3's dialogue was just plain ol' bad and tiresome, Pirates 3 falls somewhere in between being good and average. The voice-acting during the cut-scenes is well done, but much of what's outside of that isn't anything spectacular. The tunes are very reminiscent of the movie, but unlike Spider-Man 3's one monotonous theme, Pirates 3 offers more for the ears.
In the end, the Pirates 3 game comes out being the best of the movie-game trilogies, but that isn't saying much. Where as Shrek the Third and Spider-Man 3 were downright bad, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is bordering on the edge of mediocrity. With a bit more polish, a more robust framerate, and a slightly more engaging experience, this could've gone down as being one of the best movie-games in a long time. Unfortunately, At World's End cannot pull through on the strength of its pretty cut-scenes and nice audio alone. There simply isn't much to see that's worth the $60 ticket. If you're really curious, rent it first.