A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
It's a Pirate game. You are doing Piratey behaviors such as breaking out of jail, stealing things, killing men from the British Navy and the East India Company, and playing Poker and Blackjack. Voodoo is also practiced in the game.
Violence & Scariness
There is piratical person-to-person combat and naval combat. Cartoonish rather than realistic combat with lots of "Hollywood" style flourishes but no graphical blood or gore. You can use pistols or cutlasses but opponents simply fall over. Cannons can be used to sink ships but no bodies are blown up.
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Products & Purchases
There are two versions. The ad-based game contains banners advertising products aimed at children: from Disney's own products such as their latest DVD releases, to other children's games such as Pokemon on the Nintendo DS. There is also an ad-free version that costs $9.95/mo.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
It's a Pirate game and although there are taverns, with barrels of grog and barmaids, there is no overt depiction of alcohol or tobacco consumption.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a massively multiplayer online game in which you become a pirate and that the pirates in this game are violent. There is no graphic blood, but you may be asked to kill crabs and wasps. You can fight with cutlasses and pistols, but opponents simply fall over. Cannons can be fired from ships which break masts and cause ships to sink, but you don't see bodies flying. Your major opponents in this game are other humans, not fantasy monsters. There is a Voodoo theme in the game where you wave a funny looking ragdoll and throw "hexes" which produce a greenish grey smoke effect. The game can be played for free in a frame which contains advertising for age-related product. In the free version some game content will be restricted. For the ad-free version, you must pay $9.95/month, but since this is an online game, content is constantly added. This game is one age bracket up from Toontown Online and carries through all of Disney's original child-protection and security settings, such as the ability to lock down free chat and a profanity filter that cannot be turned off. Many families play this game together and naval combat actually requires cooperative play as one person has to sail the ship, while others can fire cannons. Quests often also are more easily completed in a group and some require several players to play cooperatively in order to succeed. As with any MMORPG, kids can get sucked in and find they want to spend a tremendous amount of time in this world.
Is It Any Good?
The game actually leads the player through the storyline with well crafted quests and directions. The in-game tutorial is friendly, and the game is simple enough to play that an in-depth instruction manual is not required. First time players will be amazed at the quality of the cut scenes, which actually place your created character in the "movie," where you interact with familiar characters like Jack Sparrow, Tia Dalma, Elizabeth Swann, and Will Turner. To keep to its family friendly motto, players are defeated, but do not die. Instead they fall unconscious and wake up in jail. Another aspect of this game is the Player versus Player gameplay: players can go head to head with another player in an "arena" but when this occurs, they are not human. They are "cursed" and transformed into skeletons.
Young fans of pirates in general and Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean will be pleased with Disney's effort to craft an online game for the tween population who have outgrown ToonTown Online. The game is a fun romp and sailing on the high seas looking for enemy ships to lob cannon at with your kids can be a blast. Younger children may get frustrated at the more difficult quests or fights, but rest assured that in an MMORPG, there are many things to do. From playing cards to searching for treasure, from fighting with cutlass and pistol to using voodoo magic and naval battle.
A free version of the game supported by advertising in the form of a framed window is available for families to check out before committing to the full subscription membership.
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