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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Bethesda Softworks
DEVELOPER:
Akella
GENRE: RPG
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
June 24, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

More in this Series
 Written by Ryan Smotherman  on April 08, 2003

First Impressions: Lucky for Bethesda games based off movie licenses have been unusually good as of late, though admittedly this is a much different situation from the norm.


On March 27th an announcement was made that is rarely seen within the gaming world. Bethesda Softworks, known most recently for their latest PC/Xbox RPG, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, announced cancellation of one of their current projects, Sea Dogs II, and instead will take their current gameplay build and tie-in elements from the upcoming Disney movie, The Pirates of the Caribbean. Which makes you wonder ? will the inclusion of the movie license diminish the overall quality of the game, or make it better?

For the uninitiated, The Pirates of the Caribbean is a live-action Disney movie, staring Johnny Depp and everyone's favorite elf, Orlando Bloom (though he's a pirate in this movie? duh), scheduled to hit theatres on July 9th. Which, if you think about it, the tie-in does make sense in the end ? you got a pirate-based game and a pirate-based movie that when meshed together could make for a great combination, and is sure to sell even more copies than if it was still called Sea Dogs II (yeah, I'm pretty sure this is why Bethesda reached this agreement). As for what degree they will take the license to, that's anybody's guess at this juncture, though it doesn't take a genius to guess what they could be ? let's see, we'll probably see characters from the movie make appearances in the game; yes, that's a given. Locations in the movie will more than likely be implemented here, and even some of the plot elements, though, I wouldn't expect too much of that. Aesthetically, you'll probably see landmarks, ships, and whatever else captured from the movie, and maybe even cutscenes here and there. Not to mention the fact that some of the music could be taken from the flick and there's probably even some chance of voice acting from the actors in the film. Of course, this is all speculation, but if a little of all of this isn't seen in the game, than there really wouldn't be much point in the tie-in at all. Which brings us to the other side of the spectrum ? mum has been the word for Bethesda on the changes we're going to see; so who knows, at the very least this could just be a name change. Anyways, let's forget the technicalities of the tie-in and focus on the actual game, which to be quite honest, seems to be turning out nicely.

Even though Bethesda's Morrowind took place in a mystical fantasy world, and The Pirates of the Caribbean supposedly takes place in the real world 17th century, the two games are strikingly familiar in their structure. As in Morrowind, you are set out on your own, either playing the role of a male or female mercenary, all the while dictating for yourself where you go and how your character develops. The configuration of the missions will also be fairly similar ? instead of joining Fighter and Mage guilds that will give you quests to go on, you can ally with the different nationalities, such as the French, Spanish, English, and Pirate factions, to the newly added Dutch and Portuguese. These alliances aren't the only thing that brings you new quests, however ? along with main story, which supposedly will take up to 40 hours to complete, there's also randomly generated quests that are created solely based on your skill level and who you are allied with. Though, Akella would be quick to point out that unlike Morrowind, you're always given a sense of where to go, and missions don't pile up quite as badly.

On land you'll find that you follow your character from the standard third-person perspective, and from here you'll do all of your on land exploitations ? visiting towns to sell items and get information, hiring up to three non-playable shipmates to aid you in your journey, or get into fights ? the life of a swashbuckler isn't the safest job out there, and your bound to run into trouble when traveling on solid ground. This type of melee combat seems as if it's going to be fairly simple, allowing you to use a good range of sword slashes and even different types of guns, which do massive damage, but take an extremely long time to reload (this is the 17th century). Also, your hired guns will jump into the mix to assist you in battle when needed.

Being on the land is good and all, but I have a feeling the adventure will, naturally, take place primarily at sea. Sailing the seas in your own boat just sounds like it's going to be a heck of a lot of fun. You'll control your path from a top down perspective, and from here you'll be able to see a great number of things ? such as spotting various islands, other ships, and even potentially dangerous weather patterns that you just might want to avoid. Of course, you are a pirate and if you didn't board and attack other ships, you just wouldn't be doing your job now would you? This, as you would expect, brings us to the ship battles, which if I may say is looking like one of the more intriguing parts of the game. Dictating with your spyglasses, you'll be able to make a fair assessment on which ships would be worth attacking, all depending on their manpower, ship strength, and faction. Once engaged in battle you'll find that a great number of different strategies are available ? for instance, you can just blast away with your cannons and other weapons of destruction (with auto-aim, or first-person manual aiming), or you can grapple onto the other ship, board it, and engage in melee combat. Not all battles will be as simple as that, though, as multiple ships can be engaged in combat, making for the chance of some encounters reaching the status of epic.

Obviously, all this combat does have its rewards, and since it is an RPG you'll be able to level up your character. From what I've gathered, this will work like what was found in Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance ? that is, you're given points that you can add to a multitude of abilities, allowing you build certain qualities as you see fit.

Some of the best news coming out about this game is that unlike Morrowind's quick PC-to-Xbox port, the developer, Akella, is actually modifying the game properly to the console, hopefully resulting in an overall better looking game than Morrowind, which admittedly did have it's visual problems. Overall, expect to see sharp visuals, with nice, fluid moving character models, rich environments, and nice use of particle effects for explosions and such. The ships are also quite exuberant, with breathtaking water effects when at sea. Not to mention the incredible weather effects that will take place, such at the wind blowing things around, rain pouring down on everything, and lightening flashing in the background. Also, you'll go through different times of the day, and the scenery will change accordingly ? this can range from bright, beautiful mornings, the blazing sun in the afternoon, jaw-dropping sunsets, and the darkened silence of nightfall. All in all, it should be quite a treat for the eyes.

Final Thoughts
Yeah, so the announcement was pretty shocking and at this point the changes, if any, which will result in the tie-in are unknown. But if the gameplay and promising features stay intact we'll have quite an RPG on our hands come its release, which is set for sometime this Summer.


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