Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Off the Depp end

There are more legends, myths and characters surrounding piracy (we're referring the eye-patch wearing, peg-leg walking, parrot-owning variety rather than illegal music and movie sharers) than any other line of work we can think of. Even before Johnny Depp added Captain Jack Sparrow to the list, there was Blackbeard, Captain Hook, Guybrush and Pugwash, to name just a few.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest features another of these well-known souls in the form of the menacing Davy Jones, him of the eponymous locker. Without spoiling the plot of the film, Captain Jack made a deal with Jones 13 years ago in order to rescue his ship, The Black Pearl, the price being 100 years of service in Jones' crew.

Captain Jack being Captain Jack, this isn't an outcome that's likely to come to pass and the pirate does a runner, staying low while he tries to figure out how to escape the small print in Jones' contract. And so it is that you step into Jack's salty boots, to swashbuckle your way around the Caribbean in an effort to clear your debt.

The game roughly follows the plot of the film but, in a nice touch that we appreciated hugely, it only takes you up to the last act of the movie. As a result, those of you without the patience to wait you've seen the film won't have the ending spoiled for you.

Which is a bonus, because, with a mix of land-based hack'n'slash action and sea-faring shoot-outs, Dead Man's Chest is more entertaining than we'd expect a mobile phone game that's based on movie sequel to be.

While neither the land or sea element is strong enough to stand on its own, together they make for a reasonably convincing double-act.

While on land, you're gently prompted to make your way through various coastal towns and villages, fighting off British soldiers, or rummaging around on tropical islands and attacking other pirates for treasure and useful trinkets.

The controls are simple but intelligent, enabling you to pull off a wide and spectacular range of attacks. Pressing '5' is nearly all ever need do and, depending upon the situation you find yourself in, you'll have at the varlets with your sabre, fire off a musket, or swing around a lamppost like Gene Kelly in the rain with a sword for an umbrella. You can even employ that well-worn standby of swashbuckling movies, the old 'kick the barrel at the bad guy' trick.

Still, even with as wide a variety of moves as this, the levels will start to drag, particularly when you've dispatched the eleventh or twelfth bad guy.

On a brighter note, they are interspersed by the occasional boss character that you'll fence with, victory coming by pressing a succession of number keys in response to on-screen prompts. Press the wrong numbers, or the right ones too slowly, and you'll be hit, losing health. It's a nice break in the otherwise-mindless action, but, again, it's not enough to keep your interest for long. As short as the levels are (each one takes around five minutes), they do seem too long.

So it's a relief, then, when you take to the high seas in the Black Pearl. The story becomes incidental at this point - wherever it is you're sailing to or from, a British galleon or ghost ship will appear to challenge you, and you're tasked with sinking the impudent ship.

Offering more tactical depth than is available on land, there's a definite degree of skill required in ensuring you can train all of your cannons on the enemy whilst simultaneously avoiding their broadsides, and in a cruel irony, these levels are over all too soon.

The result is a game that's very much of two halves (darn that incessant World Cup coverage). It definitely won't blow you away and, as it's missing the cheeky charm of the silver-screen Captain Sparrow, there is an element of disappointment in finding that there's no great sparkle. But it is polished and possessed of some redeeming features, largely that it offers something different to the usual movie tie-in game.

6 / 10

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