Lost in Translation? – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End



Welcome to Lost in Translation? – the Ready Up series where we look at the rocky two-way road of media adapted from videogames and games based on films and TV shows, in a bid to decide whether the juice was worth the squeeze, or if what made the source material great in the first place got lost in translation.

Now wait a second. Wait wait wait. Just… wait. I know the intro above states that here on LIT? we look at adaptations based on “what made the source material great in the first place”. I know there are a lot of Pirates of the Caribbean haters out there. And I know that the film was the recipient of a 50 out of 100 score on Metacritic. But having recently watched the somewhat convoluted, overly complicated third part of the film trilogy in preparation for writing this blog I will say this – by jingo can those guys make a cracking action scene! Right…? Guys…?

Well… looks like it’s just you and me then. Thanks for sticking around. Let’s begin, shall we?

And so, sticking with the entirely unintentional produced-by-Jerry-Bruckheimer theme started by our last venture into the murky waters of LIT?, here we’re taking a look at the game based on the third instalment of Jack Sparrow’s adventures, with both film and game entitled Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.

Released in 2007, the cinematic PotC: AWE (for that is a mightily long title to be repeating) was, as mentioned, the finale of a trilogy of (four, so far) swashbuckling adventures, starring the superb Johnny Depp, the less-superb Orlando Bloom, the more-or-less-as-superb-as-Orlando-Bloom-whether-you-see-that-as-a-compliment-is-up-to-you Keira Knightley and was directed by Gore Verbinski. Telling the tale of his friends’ efforts to save Jack from a place akin to limbo, and their final united stand against tyranny, here’s what Disney’s marketing department thought would make you want to see the movie:


Unsurprisingly also released in 2007, the interactive PotC: AWE in fact sort-of tells the tale of not one, but two movies, casting a fleeting eye over the events of parts two and three of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Not that you’d know it without inspecting the game’s manual. But I digress! Here’s a wee taste of what the game looked like:


Developed by the now-defunct Eurocom, whose last game was the rather maligned 007 Legends, was the interactive PotC: AWE actually better than its inspiration, as suggested by its slightly higher Metacritic scores of 58, 57 and 55 out of 100 (for Xbox 360, PC and PS3, respectively)? Let’s take a look.

Just look at their excitement!
Just look at their excitement!

What it got right

The game’s title.

I jest! While there isn’t a lot to applaud in this videogame tie-in, there are a few noteworthy details. The character models for most of the main cast are pretty convincing, despite the dead-eyed stares greeting you from the screenshots you see upon this here blog. Jack looks like Jack, Will looks like Will and Elizabeth looks… well… a bit like Elizabeth. If you squint. Even less-significant characters such as the other notable pirate lords, like the incredibly obscure Mistress Ching, make a convincing transition to the interactive realm. The music also does an admirable job of trying to muster up some of the film’s admittedly impressive atmosphere, seeing as most of its key themes are taken directly from the movies.

Finally, a handful of actors lend their voices to reprise their roles from the film, though notably none of the headliners (at the time of writing, Wikipedia is incorrect folks – Johnny Depp didn’t voice Jack in this game). And yes, since you were wondering, the actress who played Mistress Ching in the film, Takayo Fischer, does indeed voice her character here.

Just - look! Look how thrilled he is!
Just – look! Look how thrilled he is!

What it got wrong

Blimey. Well let’s start with the obvious – PotC: AWE isn’t a lot of fun to play. A third-person action-adventure for the most part (though that implies that it contains action and adventure, as which the game only barely qualifies), players assume control of Jack and co. and try to traverse various locales in an attempt to complete poorly signposted objectives, while engaging in combat with enemies who can all be tackled with the same sparse attacks repeated ad nauseum.

Occasionally combat takes centre-stage with players engaging in one-on-one duels against villains both notable (like Davy Jones) and… less than notable (soon-to-be-a-household-name Mistress Ching). While their aim is to provide a thrilling swashbuckling climax to the dreariness of running around, these battles soon become tedious and drawn-out, with pretty much nothing to distinguish combatants from one another and absolutely no need for strategy.

Jack defended his right to wear guy-liner ferociously
Jack ferociously defended his right to wear guy-liner

But where the game really lets down fans in my eyes – it utterly fails in the telling of its story. Admittedly the films themselves became overly complex in parts two and three, with just about every notable character involved in multiple sub-plots at once and double-, triple- and quadruple-crossing one another at the drop of a hat – but here in the game, it’s like they’re not even trying to be vaguely coherent. In essence, understanding the game’s plot depends heavily upon a deep knowledge of the films that spawned it, as there are frequent blanks that need filling in.

The Verdict

A rather painful experience, the videogame Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End isn’t great. If you’re desperate to play through this film series, pick up the infinitely superior Lego Pirates of the Caribbean. This one’s lost in translation.


2 responses to “Lost in Translation? – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”

  1. Sean Joesbury avatar

    Haha, awesome article dude. I very much approve. Well written as always, and very funny. You actually made me laugh out loud at work 🙂

  2. theycallmechristophe avatar

    Great article. Excellently written and chock fulla wit.

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