Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned has been cancelled. Disney Interactive Studios has restructured the game's developer Propaganda Games, which has also been working on Tron Evolution. 100 staff have been laid off and the Pirates game has been cancelled. Boo! Hiss! OK, I accept you probably don't care... but take a look at the last trailer for the game and then I'll tell you why it's going to be missed.
I can't pretend the last game At World's End was amazing, particularly as I gave it 6/10 on PS3 and 7/10 on 360 (the 360 version looks way better), but that game, while flawed, got a lot of things right, which gave any sequel massive potential.
The game world was beautiful
The graphics in At World's End were, at times, superlative. Port Royal, in particular, looked the absolute business. It may have been a reasonably restricted area in terms of exploration, but simple tasks like pulling down wanted posters from poles on the jetty in that gorgeous sunshine was a joy. It was just a nice place to be. The new game looked to turn up the special effects still further - look at the view midway through this gameplay footage:
It felt like part of the movie series
The license itself was used brilliantly, with characters that looked almost exactly like their silver screen counterparts. I can't think of any other game this generation that has embraced its movie-themed subject material with as much style, detail or affection. While the new game was to be set before the events of the movie trilogy, the attention to character detail would no doubt have been just as apparent. And who knows what it would have added to the plot?
Above: Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley looked just as they should in At World's End
There's no scientific way to quantify this - pirates are awesome. And At World's End gave you loads of them. Descending from the rigging of a beautifully-rendered pirate galleon while the decks below fair sparkled with the swords of some fifty pirates locked in combat was superb. Adding in undead pirates was just the icing on the cake. You could also switch between different pirates mid-game, keeping a team of three alive during big fights. That's a lot of pirates.
Above: Scenes like this were reason enough to play the original game, even if the combat was poor
So... why should I care again?
Bottom line is this: While the combat itself was deeply flawed and the actual gameplay experience was often bland, predictable and somewhat unfulfilling, the sequel was a chance to fix all of the minor things and expand on the good ideas. And early impressions were good - when the game was shown at E3, people made appreciative noises.
To me, it makes no sense to completely abandon work on a game that's clearly not that far off completion. The Pirates of the Caribbean games have always sold well because of the license. Surely it can't be so bad that Disney has to cancel it completely to cut its losses? Some 100 staff are a lot to pay salaries to, but with zero chance of recouping any money from the game now, wouldn't it have been better to offer it for sale to another dev to finish, Duke Nukem style?
It's made me feel sad. How about you? Or did you just see At World's Ends as a mediocre movie cash-in that looked quite nice at the time? Speak your mind (in a piratey voice if possible) in the comments. Yarr.
15 Oct, 2010