Pirates of the Caribbean Online Review

Couldn't get enough of Pirates of the Caribbean after seeing the movie trilogy? Then Pirates of the Caribbean Online (PotC Online) may just be what you're looking for. It lets you live the life of a pirate (well the interesting parts anyway) while giving you the chance to help out the likes of Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swann. Will it have you singing "Yo-ho, Yo-ho"? Let's shove off and see.

First things first. In PotC Online it's not just "a pirate's life for me", it's "a pirate's life for free". PotC Online is free to play, as long as you don't mind seeing a few ads, waiting in a login queue before entering the game, and not having access to the entire game world. For ten bucks a month you can have a full access account free of these minor annoyances, which is a bit less than the cost of a subscription to most massively multiplayer games out there. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for - I've played most MMORPGs out there and several more that are now defunct, and PotC Online is no World of Warcraft. However, it's not a bad diversion for those looking for a free game or to leave the world of orcs and elves for a bit.

When you enter the game you're greeted by Jack Sparrow himself who guides you through the process of creating a new character. There's a surprising degree of customization available for your character so you can create a pretty unique look and not worry about tripping over your clones left and right once you enter the game. One thing that may surprise you though is that by default you can only select your character's first and last name from a list of approved pirate names. If you want to pick a unique name then you'll need to wait for it to be approved manually and go by the name "pirate" for a day or two. This is a Disney game after all.

Once you have a character Jack sends you on your way and you enter the game. The game does a nice job of providing a series of in-game tutorials to ease you into the game, but in reality the game is simple enough for you to figure out for yourself pretty quickly. The game sticks quite closely to the traditional MMORPG model; you get quests from characters in the game that invariably require you to kill a certain number of a particular enemy, collect a given number of items from defeated enemies, or run off to talk to another character. Fans of the movie trilogy will enjoy the frequent encounters with characters from the films, but otherwise there's not a lot of imagination in the quests. You'll have to spend a lot of time in the game grinding your way through one quest after another.

The fighting in PotC Online is done with either a gun or a sword. Guns must be aimed at an enemy before they can be fired, but this is easy enough to accomplish by pointing the mouse in the general vicinity of the enemy. It's very easy to kite enemies in the game, backpedaling across an open area while taking one shot after another. If you bump into an obstruction, you can easily switch to your sword to finish off the enemy. Sword fighting involves clicking the mouse to swing your sword and then timing additional clicks at the end of each swing to initiate a combo. There are also special attacks available such as a sweep to hit multiple enemies that are launched by clicking on an onscreen icon corresponding to the attack. You'll also have the opportunity to learn voodoo attacks which are useful for cursing enemies or healing yourself.

One thing that's a bit different in PotC Online than in other MMORPGs is that gaining levels does not lead to any obvious increase in your stats or give you access to a choice of new skills. Any stat increase occurs behind the scenes. However, when you use your sword or gun, you gain experience with that weapon. When the weapon levels up, you'll be able to select new attacks and skills or increase your effectiveness in an existing skill. You'll quickly pick up several levels in a weapon early in the game, but then it begins to take a lot longer to reach subsequent levels. This means that you'll have to wait a while before having access to new attacks that will allow you to reach higher combos as well as get to see some new attack animations.