Who hasn't wanted to be a pirate at one point or another? For those of you who have, Bethesda Softworks has come out with Pirates of the Caribbean, the Legend of Jack Sparrow. The game, released back in June as a tie-in with the recent Pirates of the Caribbean theatrical release, is rated "T" for teen for alcohol reference and violence, and features the voice of Johnny Depp.
The Legend of Jack Sparrow is a 3rd person action adventure PC game, in which you play as Captain Jack Sparrow or Will Turner. The game offers many different environments to play in, including burning buildings, sinking ships, and dark caves. As you move through the game you unlock new abilities and attack moves.
Over the course of the game, the player must complete a verity of tasks, including minor puzzles, swordplay, and working your way through waves of enemies to reach the boss. Along the way, you collect treasure and map pieces that unlock places on the map, as well as new swords that deal more damage. This is a save point game, with saves appearing only after you have successfully navigated through the level and defeated the boss. Levels tend to have lots of enemies in your way, including Spanish and British troops, as well as other pirates. Many times you must use Jack's bombs or Will's hatchets in non-combat ways, such as using Will's hatchet to cut the ropes of a drawbridge or Jack's bombs to blow open blocked mine shafts.
The Legend of Jack Sparrow runs well, with the system requirements easily met by most PCs (it should run fine on anything with a Pentium 3 processor or up). The game has menu options to configure either a game pad or a keyboard, however I found that I could not get the game to accept keyboard choices. Even after reading the manual I couldn't figure it out, but luckily I had a game pad on-hand and was able to play the game with that controller. Another downside was the use of symbols when telling you about a new ability or move. These symbols are used later in the game during puzzles, but you have to figure out what key the symbol is referring to on your own.
The music track that accompanies you throughout the game runs well, but after a while it begins to become repetitive and slightly annoying. This is especially true if you fail the level and have to do it again, like I did when trying to defeat a difficult boss. I ended up just turning my speakers off. The sound affects are also good, with sword clashes and explosions often being the main sounds heard.
I would expect the game to take at least a few weeks to complete, if you played it almost every night. I, however, found that I didn't like to play every night, mainly because I would get frustrated at certain puzzles or bosses that took me forever to figure out, as well as having it take me 30 minutes to get to the boss, only to die and have to start all over again. Save points are sometimes a necessary evil, but I wish that they'd put the saves closer to the battles that the developers had to know I'd be repeating over and over.
At the time of this writing the Legend of Jack Sparrow was priced at $19.99. This seems to be a good value, considering the different playing environments and a co-op option. The manual did mention that during co-op play you could configure the controls to one side of the keyboard (allowing two players to share a single keyboard), but as I couldn't get the keys to work the only way I could see to play co-op would be if you had two game pads. It is also possible in the game to use the treasure collected to "upgrade" a character by purchasing levels on your attacks to cause more damage.
Game Play- 7 Pirates of the Caribbean, the Legend of Jack Sparrow's game play is entertaining, but the inability to use a keyboard and mouse to play was a bit annoying.
Graphics- 8 Characters and environments are well-rendered, but enemies tend to all look alike after a while. Special attacks and explosions are bright and colorful.
Audio- 5 The game's music fit with the whole pirate theme, but after a while the repetition became annoying. Sound FX are well done, though.
Value- 8 The Legend of Jack Sparrow is inexpensive for a medium length adventure game with co-op ability, but PC users beware: this is a console port and so really does favor the use of a game pad over a keyboard. Unless you have a pair of controllers, you might not be able to use Co-op properly, or play with the keyboard at all.
Curve- 3 Learning the game's controls (once you get them configured that is) doesn't take long, but Legend of Jack Sparrow's use of save points really becomes frustrating very quickly. I realize that this is a carry-over from the title's original release on consoles, but I really don't like being forced to play all the way through a level in order to save, or having to re-run levels over and over when faced with tough bosses at a level's end.