I usually feel a bit hesitant to play games based on movie of TV franchises. Usually the games are just promoting the series. Fortunately, Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War is not totally confined by the events of the movie franchise. The sleek character design and bustling overworld creates a universe of its own.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War, designed by JOYCITY Corp., is a free-to-play game that runs on both iOS and Android devices. You play as a pirate captain who creates a new haven for pirates. As the game progresses you hire mercenaries, pool resources, battle monsters, and face the East Indian Trading Company.
JOYCITY Corp. has produced a few naval battle games such as WARSHIP BATTLE:3D World War II and Oceans & Empires, so it seems like Disney made a smart decision to leave the creation of the game to that company. The experience of JOYCITY Corp. really shines throughout the game.
The world building in the game is well done. Your island feels alive as other online players visit your port and NPCs go to the tavern and sleep on the job. The layout feels natural: you know where everything is despite their not being many visible place markers. The overworld feels equally inhabited. Islands crowd the sea, monsters are always lurking, and the world goes on and on. Once again, nothing looks visibly different, but everything flows naturally.
Tides of War is divided into two different phases of game play. The first is preparation before battles, where you build ships, craft weapons, hire pirates, and collect resources. You can always quickly gather up resources and you always have something you can upgrade. Building items, gathering resources, or learning skills all require waiting in real time, but the game gives a ton of gold, a currency that allows you to skip the wait times.
The second section of the game, the navy battles, is the only part of the game that requires you to sit and wait. Well, it would be, but you can just farm for resources while the ships duke it out. After a minute has passed your fleet would have already won the first half of the battle. All you need to do is target a new enemy ship and repeat the process. The battles are lack-luster, but since you don’t need to worry about them they never become a hindrance.
I would say the only hindrance in the game is the main plot itself. Shortly after you build your haven, Captain Jack Sparrow, the main character of the film series, asks for your help as he has lost some of his memories. You then need to relive the plot of first movie in the franchise to get them back. These missions do a poor job of promoting the franchise, using with bland summaries and quotes from the movie to tell the story. Even the map design becomes desolate, the bustling waters from before become lifeless. While you can just battle random monsters of the cost or fight against other islands instead of completing the missions, the main story gives you special ships to add to your fleet, which is a big enough incentive to complete them.
As a whole, Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War, is a smooth playing game with a lovely little map and a whole lot of things to do. I give the game a 7.5 for the lovely design. I only hope that the later story missions can do the movies justice. The third movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, is one of my favorite films, so let’s hope they don’t butcher it.