Based on the classic Disneyland ride, the Pirates of the Caribbean films have been fantastic thanks to a combination of witty scripts, an excellent cast, and the fact that pirates are inherently awesome, a fact that was not lost on the makers of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End for PlayStation 2.
Covering events from the second and third films in the piratical trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is an action adventure that sees you take on the roles of the main characters from the movies - Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann, Will Turner and Captain Hector Barbossa. As these characters, you have to hack, slash, shoot and swing your way through the most notorious villains of pirate lore, including the legendary Davy Jones.
A life on the ocean wave
For a pirate, a swordfight is never far away. Swordplay is handled by a series of strong and light attacks. Light attacks are quick and good at unbalancing opponents or catching them off guard but lack power, while strong attacks cause massive damage but leave you dangerously exposed. Also in place to help you dispatch hordes of brutal buccaneers is a great block and parry system. Holding down the L1 button brings your sword up in a block which can deflect blows. Moving at just the right time however lets you parry your opponent's attack and sends them lumbering head first into whatever's behind you. If this is a barrel full of water or a high, precarious ledge, then so much the better.
Of course, being a pirate, you don't always have to fight fair. When things get a little hairy you can always pull out a throwing knife, pistol or even a bomb to even the odds. It may be unsporting, but there's nothing quite like watching a skilled opponent put on a great display of swordsmanship only to blow them away with a flintlock pistol.
Aside from fighting, controlling your characters couldn't be simpler. Movement is via the analogue stick, using items is handled by the R1 button, and most actions, like climbing ladders, sliding down zip lines and talking to people are handled by hotspots that require a simple press of the Triangle button to activate.
The game follows the plot of the latest two films from the trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and so you'll often find yourself recreating memorable moments from the movies, like the legendary waterwheel fight from Dead Man's Chest. When moments like this occur, you have to press specific buttons as they flash up on the screen to make sure your pirate lives to drink another grog.
Jack of all trades
When playing as Jack Sparrow, some of these events become little mini-games in their own right, known as Jackanisms. Here you have to help Jack get up to his usual piratical high jinks by pressing a sequence of buttons in time with the action. Successfully complete a Jackanism and you can unlock treasures for your Treasure Cove, and charm cards for the Pirate Poker and Pirate Dice sub missions.
Pirate Poker is, as you'd expect, regular 5 card stud poker (but with more "Aarghs" and "ye scurvy dogs" thrown in for atmosphere), while pirate dice is a variant on Liar's Dice, that sees you roll dice in a concealed fashion and make bids about the result of the roll. Charm cards make things easier for your buccaneer by revealing your opponent's hands, forcing them to raise, or blocking them from seeing their own cards.
As well as Pirate Poker and Pirate Dice, there are a whole range of other sub missions throughout the levels, ranging from stealing a rum shipment, to collecting debts from old enemies, even getting Jack slapped by every woman in Tortuga. They're not essential to complete, but great fun all the same, and will help you unlock new characters, weapons and locations for Challenge Mode.
Challenge Mode, which can be played by one or two players, puts you in locations from the game tasked with a specific objective, be it defeating a certain number of enemies, performing a big combo, or collecting a certain amount of loot. Naturally, two-player mode gets pretty frantic, and with each player getting a ranking at the end, ranging from Wastrel to Legendary Pirate there's plenty to play for.
Fans of the films are going to be in pirate heaven with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Full of pirate combat, treasure hunting and epic sea battles, there's everything a budding blackbeard needs. So grab a controller, a cutlass and a talkative parrot and sit back. Drink up, me hearties yo ho!