by William Thompson
previewed on PC
Piracy is in fashion again
No, I don't mean software piracy, I'm talking about the sort of piracy that involves swashbuckling heroes of yesteryear swinging from one ship to another in an attempt to win back a fair maiden or to secure a ship full of treasure. A number of games have been released (such as Sid Meier's Pirates) or are scheduled for release in the coming months (Age of Pirates) which have increased the awareness of all things piratical. Disney Online is in development of another pirate game, in this case a MMORPG. The game is loosely based on the world of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and in particular Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. Gamers will be able to create a character of their own and will then be able to interact with the three characters from the movie as well as other online characters.
Yarrr... Every pirate be needin' an eye-patch or peg-leg
Gamers will enjoy the amount of customization available to them in the game. Firstly, there are numerous character designs to choose from. Variations on body shape, height, clothing and even those small pirate touches such as eye patches, peg legs and tattoos can be selected. We've even seen characters that would not look out of place on Queer Eye for the Pirate Guy.
Apart from your character's looks, ships can also be customised. To what degree, we won't be sure until development progresses further, but we expect ship sails, number of cannons and size of the cargo hold to be among the customizations available with regards to the ships.
Gamers will need to use a variety of skills before they will become notorious pirates to rival the infamous captain Jack Sparrow. Ability to sword-fight and use a variety of weapons will be a major requirement, but other specialities such as treasure hunting, card playing and magic will be needed for success. Yes, that's right, Voodoo magic. Voodoo will give gamers the chance to heal themselves, travel, cheat in games such as cards or darts and even cast curses on enemies. Different forms of missions will be accessible to gamers to undertake, including ship-based and land-based adventures.
Yarrr... Who be wantin' to join me crew in our next adventure?
A feature of PotC Online is the fact that you can combine with other online gamers for expanded adventures. Not only that, but you can also form your own crew and start a battle against others. According to Disney Online, gamers will also be able to form alliances with thousands of other gamers to hunt for buried treasure and battle against the evil, undead forces located in the PotC world.
From what we've seen, the graphics are delightful. They are clear and crisp and a pleasure to look at. Anyone who has played Sid Meier's Pirates will probably think that they are playing an online version of Sid Meier's Pirates. The characters seem to have a similar look about them, and even the locations look familiar. Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that both games are set in the Caribbean in a similar (if not identical) time period. With that being said, there is nothing wrong with sticking to a winning formula. The characters and locations are colorfully drawn, which enhances the bright and lively feel of the Caribbean in the age of piracy. Towns have stone buildings with accompanying local vegetation, whilst beaches have an idyllic look that makes you want to hang a hammock between two palm trees and lie back and relax. Ships have an authentic look, and sailing at sea gives you the chance to watch the waves crash against the sides of the ship. Other locations include lush jungles and volcanic caves.
Of course, being a Disney game, players are unlikely to see brutal, blood splattering deaths, so if that is your thing, this would probably not be for you. Like Sid Meier Pirates, this game seems to be all about fun, and not about all the bad things that happened in the pirating days. This will no doubt lead to a lower ESRB rating, enabling gamers of all ages to play.
Yarrr... Be this buried treasure or just buried?
Overall, from the little we've seen to date, this is certainly looking to be a promising title. With a similar graphical style to Sid Meier's Pirates, fans of that game may enjoy the added ability to be able to interact and compete with other gamers online, as was not the case with Sid Meier's Pirates. And with the link to the upcoming film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, this is surely to be a boost for PotC Online. The game is scheduled for release in 2007. We are definitely looking forward to seeing more of this game as it gets closer to release date.