Did you play last year's Pirates game? Wasn't too hot, was it? Lots of running in a straight line and mindlessly mashing on the attack button. Oh, and turning the PS2 off, that happened a lot too. So why should you even glance at this year's? For starters, it's in new hands, so there's a tiny ray of hope right away. Second, this is the first time Jack and his not-quite-plundery-enough crew have appeared on next-gen systems, ready to awe us with their recreated face maps and wavy hair physics.
But looking past the visuals, which do sport some respectable lighting effects, you'll see a game with clear enhancements from last year's Legend of Jack Sparrow. The most notable is the "quick kill" mode where you put in a series of button commands to initiate an instant-death attack. For example, most enemies will die via normal sword swings, but minibosses must be felled by one of these insta-kill moves. So, wale on the henchmen for a while, build up a meter (of course) and let the special moves fly.
The first area we witnessed, the cannibal island, featured Elizabeth and two controllable guides beating back headhunters in a lush green paradise. You're able to swap between all three characters and leave the other two to the computer, ensuring all the fisticuffs, sword fighting and knife throwing are spread evenly among your party. A one-button parry system also lets you deflect incoming attacks with contextual moves like hip tosses, counter strikes or small leaps.