Okay, so we get the definitive Western from Rockstar in the form of Red Dead Redemption , so we thought we’d highlight another theme that, oddly enough, never really made a big splash in the video game world. Something like “The Pirates of the Caribbean” seems to lend itself beautifully to the world of interactive entertainment and yet, we can’t really point to one particular AAA title that can satisfy the majority of swashbuckling aficionados. So perhaps Propaganda Games will surprise us all when Pirates of the Caribeean: Armada of the Damned comes out later this year. It sort of reminds of RDR in a way, as they’re touting it as an “authentic, open-world experience” as you step into the boots of Captain Sterling. He’s a young pirate with visions of epic sea battles bouncing around in his head but when he joins up, those lofty aspirations take a beating when he realizes that pirates are little more than brawlers, killers and thieves. And on his very first voyage, he runs into trouble…the kind that normally kills you.
We don’t want to give away the entire story but let’s just say that he wakes up on a mysterious island and strangely enough, he finds he has certain powers (perhaps bequeathed by Davey Jones himself?). Now, much like RDR and other open-world, exploration-based adventures, you will first choose a path; this is where the role-playing aspect comes into play: do you fulfill your destiny and become a “legendary,” well-known pirate, one who can land any lass and who inspires both respect and fear in men? Or would you rather try the “dreaded” route, which is distinctly darker and may take more advantage of those aforementioned powers…? But the point is, your decisions and actions will have a definite impact on your environment and furthermore, the gameplay itself will be affected. For instance, as a legendary pirate, you’ll rely more on your swordplay and agility, along with a handy-dandy pistol. As the dreaded pirate, you’ll be slower, but you’ll also use a huge anchor like a massively devastating whip, and your supernatural abilities will come into the limelight.
Combos can be executed as either the legendary or dreaded pirate, and access to special skills will be dictated by the vitality meter that sits right next to your health bar. One of the first things you might wish to do is taunt your enemies; they will become intimidated and will subsequently deal less damage, while your attacks inflict more pain. Furthermore, if you finish off a taunted foe, the “taunt” benefit will continue to help you in regards to other foes. Once the fighting ensues, you’ll not only use your standard equipped weapon, you’ll also utilize a variety of melee attacks, including punches and head butts. And if we’re going to say this is part-RPG, than how can we not gain levels? We’ll get those levels and with each level attained, we’ll receive points we can distribute as we see fit; this distribution will result in enhanced stats concerning both passive and active upgrades. It’s a fairly standard feature in many action/adventure games these days but it really does add a good bit of depth, which will be most appreciated by pirate fans everywhere.
Lastly, it’d be downright absurd to present us with an “authentic” pirate theme that doesn’t include ship battles. The sea combat certainly will be prominent in this game, provided you’re on the sea quite a bit, and you will come across targets in real time. So if you see a cargo ship you’d like to loot, and you need it to surrender, simply start targeting and firing as you pilot your own vessel. You’ll have to wait as the crew reloads the cannons and overall, there are three factors you must consider: the hull, sails, and crew. These are critical elements in sea battles; taking down a target’s sails will slow them down, and aiming at the opposing crew will put a serious crimp in their reload time. But if you’d rather just eliminate the ship, go for the hull and sink it. And no, this isn’t really a simulator, as evidenced by the chance to dodge incoming attacks with the simple, well-timed press of a button, and your special abilities will also be available for combat on the high seas.
Still, that great atmosphere should be helped along by the addition of an accurate day-night cycle and varying weather patterns (if the seas are rough, it’s gonna be tougher to navigate and fight). In the end, we’re really hoping that Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned proves to be the pirate-themed benchmark…or is it too much to hope for after getting the first definitive Western in 2010?