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When Sea Dogs was released on the PC a few years ago, it turned into one of the better Role Playing games that have come out and the first one based on Pirates. Sea Dogs 2 was then announced by the company and early previews looked fantastic and detailed, then the movie Pirates of the Caribbean came out at the cinema and Disney paid the company to change the name of the game and get it out as soon as possible, and as we all know that rushing games is never a good thing.
In Pirates of the Caribbean, you assume the role of a freelance Captain who becomes caught in a struggle for power in the 17th century. At the start of the game, you witness French forces invading an English island. Sailing away to avoid harm, you set course for a nearby English colony to inform the English Governor of the bad news. Upon reaching the island, the English Governor decides to enlist you to infiltrate the captured island as a spy for the English to see what you can discover about the French invasion force and their future plans. Thus begins your adventure.
If you have never played Sea Dog's you won't really have much background on the style of gameplay we have here. Well firstly the game has been dumbed down slightly for the console market, which is a shame as they don't seem to understand that games can be just as detailed as they are on the PC and people on consoles can still enjoy them.
Firstly, Pirates of the Caribbean really has nothing to do with the movie apart from the name (and a few Zombie pirates that detract from the "Real" feeling of the game), Pirates of the Caribbean is a role playing game, you play a pirate, you begin the game with a small ship, some loaned money and a very tiny crew to work with. The story beings when the French take over an English colony, and your character, Hawk just gets away in time. From here you end up taking on the French and getting enveloped into an even bigger plot.
Your small ship is how you navigate around the various islands in the game, you may come across other ships that you'll want to attack, or who may attack you. There are storms you can also come across too, these increase your experience levels, but are very very dangerous. When you come up against other ships, or the storm, you get a third-person viewpoint where you control your ship manually, you also aim and fire your cannons here, and - assuming you do well enough battering the enemies ship, you can board it.
If you do board a ship, or when you dock at one of the island ports, the game switches to third-person view ones more, but this is a more regular viewpoint where you control Hawk and can take part in fights via your pistol or sword. When you are on the various islands you can wander around, take in the views, talk to local villagers, shopkeepers and get yourself various side quests.
So, as I've mentioned this is a role playing game, so increasing stats is vital to improving your character, you do this by gaining experience through fighting, completing quests and controlling your ship on the seas. There are a few stats to increase and it does reflect on your ship and characters performance in the game. One of the main parts of Pirates of the Caribbean is trading, this is done by importing and exporting various goods that are on each of the islands, finding a good trade route is one of the ways to quickly gain wealth and buy a new ship and better crew to guide you around the seas.
As a role playing game Pirates of the Caribbean works well, although if the game had been given a few months more most of the annoying problems could have easily been fixed, such as text mistakes, corrupt saves, and a few crashes, unforgivable in a console title.
Graphics & Sound
Looks wise Pirates of the Caribbean is excellent, it is just a shame that I can't say the same thing about the frame rate which stutters a lot of the time when walking around islands. There is a lot of detail in Pirates of the Caribbean, from shop layouts, bars, the grass and scenery, but the one stand out graphical feature is the sea, it looks fantastic, especially as the sun sets while you are sailing on it.
The sound effects are ok, but voice work becomes very irritating due to the repeated short snippets of dialogue. Music is also a bad point, it's too upbeat, unlike the perfect music that was in the original Sea Dogs game.
There is no doubt in my mind that Pirates of the Caribbean is a good game overall, its once again a shame that the game has been rushed out once more, probably thanks to the Disney license. If they had been left a few extra months to fully complete the game then we would have a title in the late 80% region.