How many times have we seen the same old story with movie-licensed games? For every Goldeneye or Chronicles of Riddick there are twenty generally very weak games that I donít care to mention here. Unfortunately Pirates of the Caribbean: Manís Chest falls into the latter category of being generally very poor, unrefined and nowhere near as good as the movie, or indeed the games itís trying to emulate.
ĎPirates is a 3D scrolling hack and slash action game, where you play as Jack Sparrow through various scenes that were in the movie. If you think about Prince of Persia youíd be on the right lines. Jack carries one large sword and can attack enemies in 3 different ways by pressing either square, cross, or circle. When attacking enemies you must press the button that is circling above their head Ė If you donít press that button the enemy will seemingly block forever and generally you will come off worse. There are few combinations to be had here, although some enemies require different buttons to be pressed which result in slightly different attack patterns. There is no real freedom to attack them as you wish like in Prince of Persia, and there isnít a whole lot of variation either.
However what makes the experience much worse is the very sluggish controls and untidiness of it all. The game feels very early and basic, like the developer didnít progress past their first try. Controlling Jack is a frustration instead of a joy, and if you get more than a few enemies on screen (all attacking you at once which is incredibly frustrating because you cannot do multi-enemy attacks) the framerate drops so much it becomes almost unplayable.
Beyond the combat in the game, you also have to figure out how to open doors and blow up gates, you either do this by flicking all the switches next to the door, or by carrying a barrel of explosive, placing it next to the door, lighting it then running away. You also have a few platforming sections too, like sliding down a line or jumping up the odd ledge or two. But mainly, its hack, slash, hack, slash, hack, slash all the way to the end.
For me the games only redeeming features were the voice-overs, which Johnny Depp actually did, and his animation, which captures his crazy wavy arms antics really quite well. Graphically itís reasonable enough, although the levels are rather boring and offer nothing more than a linear path to the end of the stage. Most games in this genre are linear, but others try to make them look like theyíre not by clever level design. Sadly ĎPirates lacks this and it really shows, especially when other similar games on the same platform compare so well against it. Strangely the game itself never looks as good as the screenshots on the back of the box Ė I thought that sort of trick was lost in history along with the Amiga!
So to summarise, this is a weak and almost worthless attempt at recreating the superb movie, and is a really poor Prince of Persia-alike. The really annoying thing is that it will probably sell 10x the units that ĎPersia achieved purely on its name alone. You have to wonder what Buena Vista and Disney think of the game, and why they didnít consult Ubisoft about developing it for them. Leave it on the shelf and go see the movie again.