Videogame Reviews

Yo-Ho-Hum

Our gamers spend some time with the tiresome (and tiring) Wii version of ''Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End,'' and the PlayStation 3 edition of ''MLB '07: The Show''

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END

The Wii version of ''Pirates 3''

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END
(Disney Interactive; Wii, DS, PS3, PS2, PSP; Teen)
A pirate's life is hard. In between the looting, the wenching, and the drinking barrels of rum, there's always work to be done. Like the seemingly endless chore of dispatching one dirty scoundrel after another. And this reality is reflected in the Wii version of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (also available on pretty much every console or handheld platform known to man), which offers many opportunities for sword-wielding Wiimote action. It sounds like fun. And it is, at least until it begins to feel more like…work.

The tedium of constant hacking is broken in those rare moments when our beloved Captain Jack Sparrow bursts on the scene with witty quips and ''Jackanisms'' — special controls that let you vanquish your foes by kicking them where it (really) hurts or pelting them with rotten fruit. Unlike other action-adventure titles like God of War or Prince of Persia, this game doesn't offer much in the way of challenging puzzles or helpful unlockable abilities. After only a few minutes of repetitive swinging (and jabbing and lunging) while battling Davy Jones' minions, pirate lord bosses, and those landlubber Redcoats, you might find yourself looking for a nice place to sit down. Speaking of which, where did we put that barrel of that rum...? B-Samantha Xu

MLB '07: THE SHOW
(SCEA; PlayStation 3; Everyone)
Nearly two months into a new season, a baseball legend returns. And no, we don't mean Roger Clemens — we're talking about Sony's MLB '07: The Show, which finally joins the PlayStation 3 roster. Ever since the PS3 hit stores a half year ago, baseball-worshipping gamers have been wondering how the processing power of this muscular console would improve an already well-regarded title. (The PS2 and PSP editions of MLB:07 were available around Opening Day.) After spending more than a few innings on the virtual diamond, we can say the PS3 version is a hit — not quite a homerun, but a solid triple.

As you'd expect, the graphics are sharper than those found on the other editions, but they're not nearly as crisp and vivid as we had hoped. (The likenesses of real MLB players are in need of some work, as some of the game's portliest players — we're talking about you, Big Papi! — don't look that much different than their more svelte colleagues.) In addition, The Show displays a sloppy graphical error each time a fielder ethereally passes through another, depriving you of the bone-jarring collision you'd expect. Still, the PS3 game looks much better than it does on its older cousins. Next-gen levels of detail are everywhere: You'll see small clumps of dirt get kicked up by your cleats, individually moving spectators percolating in the stands, and the tight grimace on a batter's face after the umpire makes a bad call.

The Show's enhancements aren't just visual. The game gives you the option of using the PS3's motion-sensing controller to make a fielder dive for a ball. Thrusting the controller back and forth in a baseball game is a bit gimmicky (and strange), but it works surprisingly well. Most important, The Show hits it out of the park in how it makes you feel like you're part of the action. Slugging homers, of course, is invigorating — but so is being able to work the count to get a walk. Or squirting a soft grounder through the infield for a seeing-eye single. Or painting the outside corner for a called third strike. With apologies to the Rocket, The Show is this year's best midseason addition. B+Gary Eng Walk

Originally posted May 28, 2007
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