| Catchy music
Great feeling of community
Wide variety of combat styles
| Almost unbearable lag at times
Dated graphics and animations
FTP players are so heavily penalized it makes subscriptions seem necessary
Innovation – 6.5/10
As an older game, Pirates of the Caribbean Online doesn`t have many features that seem new and innovative when compared to other online games set in a similar setting, but there are a few things that it does different enough to feel fresh. Timing-based combat is used to good effect to make battles feel more exciting and keep the player paying attention. The ability to man the cannons on a ship to engage in a slower paced first person shooter experience can also be a lot of fun and really feels different than the combat in other games.
The game only has two trade skills, potion-making and fishing, but both of these are presented in a way that is different and definitely more elaborate than your average online game. Potion making is performed through a mini game that shares similarities with Bejewelled or Puzzle Quest where the player must match coloured gems to create the potion they want. The fishing mini game takes place underwater as you control the lure and shares more with the old console fishing video games of days past than the point and click fishing in most online games today.
Despite these rather entertaining additions to the game, the rest of the game does remain rather familiar and there is little to truly set it apart from other games in the genre. Much of what has been done in Pirates of the Caribbean Online has been done before or since and in many cases done better.
Polish – 7.0/10
One of the advantages of an older game versus a game that has just released is that the older game has had time to fix and fine tune issues from launch, as well as time to squash plenty of bugs. As an older game, Pirates of the Caribbean Online has had time to deal with bugs and has done a great job. Quests run smoothly and can be completed without issue, while combat rarely faces technical issues. Issues with enemy pathing occasionally rear their head, but are limited to a few specific enemies rather than the game as a whole. While the animations can leave something to be desired, this is a design choice rather than a lack of polish.
The one main issue with polish is one that has been mentioned before. The lag in the game can at times be nearly game breaking. It affects movement, combat, sailing and almost every other aspect of the game. While this lag existed somewhat at launch, it had been fixed for a long time before it suddenly re-emerged. The developers seem to be unable to do anything to deal with it and now it has become the norm and something pirates have just learned to deal with. It is unfortunate as it can really ruin gameplay when it is occurring.
Longevity – 5.5/10
In a game like Pirates of the Caribbean Online, longevity is an interesting concept. By level thirty, pirates will have access to all weapon styles and trade skills. It is around this time that the original quest line finishes. While other quests remain, they lack the scope of the main line. Once this point is reached there isn’t much to look forward to other than leveling your skills. For pirates who love sailing, high level fights against bounty hunters remain, in order to gather materials to upgrade ships.
Levels are gained slowly and the differences between fighting styles brings some variety to the game experience. For a player who loves seeing their level rise, Pirates of the Caribbean Online can keep one entertained for months, but for the average gamer who wants to see new things and enjoy changing experiences there isn’t enough variety to justify spending more than a month or two in the Caribbean.
Social – 7.5/10
For a smaller game, the community is often the difference between life and death. If the players are loyal and spread the word then the game thrives, but without that community support a game can flounder and die. Luckily, Pirates of the Caribbean Online has a wonderful community to support it. Chat is typical for the genre allowing communication locally, region-wide or in direct player to player messages. As the game has a player base which includes many children there is a effective chat filter built into conversation as well as parental options to better protect younger players. Guilds are available in game as well, although they do little other than adding a guild chat option for members.
Beyond the chat system, the gameplay itself encourages social interaction. While no enemies in the game absolutely require a group (or crew in pirate speak), each pirate who joins a crew adds an increasing experience bonus which can reach up to fifty percent. There are no penalties to joining a crew, as experience is based on your own actions and all crew members receive loot. It is common place to see ships filled with eight, ten or even twelve pirates all manning guns and facing off against bounty hunters as not only does this increase experience gain, but it drastically reduces the amount of time required to kill powerful enemies.
Value – 7.5/10
In Pirates of the Caribbean Online, two different account types are offered. A Basic account is a free to play account, which allows access to the whole game world, but limits character progression to a notoriety level of fourteen and weapon skills to seven, which are much lower than the maximum levels of fifty and thirty respectively. Also certain weapons, ships and mini games are not available to Basic players. An Unlimited account is a typical subscription account costing about $10 USD a month and allowing full access to all items, level progression and mini games. A neat feature is the ability for people to access the website and purchase subscriptions to send via email, allowing a family or friends to purchase a subscription as a gift.
While the game is playable for free, the limits on character progression, whic
h in turn limits access to weapon types and quest lines, seem to make a subscription a must-have for most players. Luckily, the game’s subscription options are cheaper than that of the average online game and also features a discount on the first month and large discounts on longer subscriptions. For someone who wants to give the game a try, the free to play option serves as a great trial and for those that enjoy the game and wish to continue on, the pricing is reasonable.
While Pirates of the Caribbean Online is far from perfect, suffering from lag issues and a dated graphics setup, it is also filled with opportunities for fun. The game’s younger target audience will likely enjoy the chance to be a pirate and interact with the characters they’ve come to know from the movie series and will be able to look past some of the technical flaws. For parents looking for a game for their children to play, or to play with them, a lot of fun can be had in a safe environment in Pirates of the Caribbean Online. For veteran sea dogs who can deal with lag and a simplified style of game, then the game is worth a look, but it’s likely that most adults will want to keep on sailing by.