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Previews

Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned

Arrr me harties, the Black Pearl be sailing towards the 360

Thinking logically, what with the bright start of Pirates of the Caribbean, followed by a progressive descent into mediocrity and Krakens with twirly tentacles in the sequels, any game that's set before the first movie is likely to be amazing.

Captain Jack would still be funny, for a start. And in another bonus, Orlando Bloom's character would still be a crap sword-maker and unlikely to feature heavily.

Fresh from the echoing halls of Disney and its cohorts at Propaganda Games (who made, erm, Turok) comes Armada of the Damned - an action RPG prequel with all manner of swashbuckling, cannon-firing, plank-walking and spinning around violently on your peg-leg to startle your parrot.

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It begins with you as a fresh-faced young pirate setting out on your very first voyage, and it ends with you either being the most feared and hated rapscallion on the high seas or, if you decide to swing the game's moral choices in the other direction, one of the most respected.

The game will take place both on land and sea, meaning that combat will have you slashing, blocking and countering in sword battles, as well as blasting cannons and splicing mainbraces on the ship itself.

In terms of enemies, meanwhile, you can almost certainly expect those stodgy British military men and rival pirates to get in your way; and what with the supernatural slant of the movies, various unexpected ghostly fogs, spectral foes and men with shark's faces will be sure to pop up as the story unfolds and takes you towards the eponymous Armada of the Damned.

Perhaps most excitingly, though, what we've been promised is a huge open world to set sail in, with an upgradable crew of untrustworthy types that say stuff like "Arrr!" a lot. If you see a strange looking island on the horizon, you'll be able to set anchor and explore, discover the nefarious take behind it and, hopefully, be able to leg it with all the loot that's been stashed there.

A free-roaming pirate RPG is seriously what the world has been waiting for. We can only pray that the developer is up to the task.