Video games rarely leave room for the imagination. Back in the day, when a blockbuster movie spawned a line of action figures and cheap plastic toys, you were expected to reenact your favorite scenes from the film—but you could always use that cheapo Hoth set and your stiff-limbed stormtroopers to make up your own stories. In Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Legend Of Jack Sparrow, the stars look like cheap action figures—witness Jack Sparrow's frozen expression and rag-doll motion—but you don't get to decide how to play with them. You're stuck in a shallow pool of pirate-themed hack-and-slash action, and there's no escape.
The Legend Of Jack Sparrow suffers from all the usual flaws of a movie tie-in: repetitive brawls, silly mini-games, gimmicky special moves that only work if you're standing right on a hotspot, and a bunch of crappy "unlockable bonus material" that you would never waste time on if it were a series of DVD extras. The maps are fast and compact, but the action is buggy, with plenty of graphical glitches, events that break down if you hit them out of sequence, and enemies (and friends) who like to stop dead in their tracks in the middle of a fight, waiting for you to skewer them.
Beyond the game: It's hard to believe this cash-in comes from the same publisher that released the XBox 360's first killer app, Oblivion. In Oblivion, you can kick a skull down a staircase and watch it bounce in glorious hi-def; in Jack Sparrow, pirates run halfway through walls, and your sword pops in and out of your hand when you run.
Worth playing for: The backdrops match the film's hazy, eerie tone, and the story—a "tall tale" retelling of the events of the first film—is clever, although Johnny Depp never sounds that excited about telling it.
Frustration sets in when: Don't even bother with the PC version. The control scheme is miserable, the key mappings are confusing, and nobody told the team who ported it from the PlayStation that PCs don't have a "left analog stick."
Final judgment: Not so much "booty" as "ass."