Monday, December 28, 2020

Highlander - Last of the MacLeods: Back from the Dead

 Its not often I handle current events on this blog. I know what you're thinking. "Current events, Morpheus, you're talking about a Highlander game. That franchise hasn't been relevant since the '90s at best. Has your mind finally snapped?" Because Highlander - Last of the MacLeods has for around 25 years been thought of as a Jaguar (Jag-war) CD exclusive. There are four games relevant to this project on that console. Two of those are enhanced remakes of games on other consoles, so who really cares? The other two, this and Battlemorph...are...well...I can't say I ever really cared one way or the other about playing them. This one looked nice, because I'm a fan of Alone in the Dark/Resident Evil styled games. But I had made my peace about not ever playing it, I had better things to do, like learning Japanese for Doctor Hauzer. Wait a minute, I don't need to do that anymore...uh...well, I still need to do that for other reasons.
You see, the thing about the Jaguar CD, if you're unfamiliar with it, is that it is probably the worst console of all time. It was a bad selling add-on to a bad selling console. There are only 13 games for the system, half of which are ports of PC games, and only 5 are not ports in general. Because of this, nobody really wanted to emulate the console except as a challenge. And the best part, the system itself is notoriously hard to run. As of ten years ago, most of them refused to boot up. Not laser issues, not connection issues, it literally refused to run*. Ten years ago. I'm sure the next decade will see the rest of the systems die, if they're not already dead.
With all that, it was easy to suspect the reason for the games not appearing on other consoles is due to Atari ponying up some sweet, sweet cash to a few companies. Then...an alpha for Highlander on the PC came out the other day. Which means the reason why it didn't come out is that they ran out of money. I wonder what could have ever caused that. Of course, it also means I have no one but myself to rely on for assistance if it breaks down. Actually, that's not entirely true...

HOW TO GET IT RUNNING:
Despite being distributed in a ZIP file, you need to have the thing mounted as a disc. It won't work if you don't properly install it. That is some dedication to copy-protection. Sound doesn't work straight off, but the only way I could get it working is via some kind of Russian black magic. In fact, if WERTA over at Old Games Russia didn't have a video with working audio and I never thought to ask him, this would have been played soundless. Starts off slow, but it runs like a charm otherwise.


The game starts off with a weird cinematic before the menu starts, then one explaining the game's premise, then another one explaining the backstory once you start the game. This I suspect was taken from the animated series, and is very low quality. The only evidence I have for this is the big title card from that show appearing. I'm really glad I have the sound for this generic five-second loop of swelling orchestral music. Really making my day. Oh, the menu is another five-second loop. I've heard worse sound, but not in a commercial video game made after the invention of decent sound cards.

I'd get a later shot, but whenever I press anything it skips
There's another long cutscene explaining the game, something about an evil immortal burning down a village containing the last hidden member of the MacLeods and only other immortal. I don't care about the plot too much, since this is based off a Saturday morning cartoon that lasted maybe a season. Its not a high bar to begin with. The game starts off with the usual bad gameplay choice, an enemy charging after the player. Judging by the reception of this game, this was a bad choice. Fighting defensively against someone with superior reach is bad, and you are going to be doing so starting off with no idea on how to play this. Chances are, this is where most people would give up. But the first time I defeated the guy I had less than half health, not ideal.
 

But its during one of my attempts while screwing around with getting sound to work that I discover something amazing. The combat system? Its not nearly as bad as the reviews would have you think. The hand-to-hand combat isn't ideal, certainly, but its a far cry from being completely defenseless. Without a sword, the player is mostly weaker than the roaming enemies, but as they're charging, when they jump, if you time it right, you can hit them with a jumping kick and boom, they're dead. Its poetry in motion. Although this time I don't do it perfectly, him dealing a little damage in the process.

Walking over the guy's corpse reveals bread, a useless map, and a note. Interesting, but useless, as it just tells me that the guard is supposed to drive me towards the other one, as there's another guarding the gate. He has another note, which is just guard the rear gate. Both of these are signed by Arak, Eternal Power to Kortan, and this plan works. Here's the problem, the way the game is set up, this works perfectly, and the player is killed by the guards. This is the start. Is it any wonder this game didn't sell if this is what happens? The only people who played it, well, it killed off their interest. Sure, I'm having fun, but I went in with the expectation of it not possibly being that bad. Its not, but how many people are going to bother figuring out the controls? Hell, everyone else was doing this on the Jaguar controller, how bad is that thing? This isn't supposed to be some difficult game right? Put in a damn training section!
Anyway, in the area is a hut, next to all the burned ones. Its got a chest inside.
Kick, kick, guess its locked...
Reaching the chest makes this cutscene appear. As an aside, I'm glad I'm currently using the Home key as a screenshot function, because using Ctrl+F5 would be hell. The cutscenes skip as soon as a button is pressed. Also continuing are the five-second music loops. They're more like two-second music loops.
Oh, man, this MacLeod is not particularly appealing. Huh, funny, somehow Mr. Carnby looks better.
For example, can you tell where I'm supposed to walk?
There are a couple more huts, one with a piece of bread, and one with a stick. This is exposing what's the real major flaw with this game. Camera and controls. I am not one to shy away from tank controls or "Resident Evil" camera. I think the latter is the only real way to make something effectively cinematic and tank controls are the only effective way to handle that. I have as much of a problem with poor scenery visibility as anyone else. Highlander has that in spades. It is not clear at all where you can walk in some of these shots, which highlights a problem with the movement. Instead of stopping or continuing to walk into the walk, MacLeod turns until he can walk. This is not fun.
A very necessary screenshot for a very necessary location
There's quite a few huts not burned down in this village, I'm starting to think this Arak guy is a joke. Health items, an amulet that starts a FMV. Is this the game's only way of delivering story? ...and then a guy who doesn't seem capable of dying. I dunno, I can't succeed in getting a jumping kick to work against him. There's nothing in the room, though. Finally, outside there's another loaf of bread. This is nice, but these health items are of little use in the middle of combat, since you stop to eat them.
This leads me to the exit, where two guys just murder me. From what I've seen, there's a sniper down the path who'll finish off the job if they don't.
The dying cutscene just has you taken to some dude who...does nothing and the game ends. Don't mistake that screenshot for an attempt at a cinematic, it doesn't end the way you think.
That leaves me with a few options, the necklace is clearly useless, but maybe the stick does something? I can always try that one guy again. Nothing on the chest, but on the back gate, it destroys a lock. Would have been nice to see that lock, but whatever.
There are definitely signs of greatness at times
This...takes me to a path. A long path. Okay, despite the annoying music, the path is very nice and epic feeling. There are two ways, but I head to the stonehedge they have on a hill.
Here, a cutscene happens...and then there's a sword. Muahahahaha! Let's see if those guys can survive a sword!
I'm distracted when I notice the tower I passed on the way out has a staircase up. There's a guard here, but thanks to the fact that I'm lower and he's higher, I get him long before he gets me. He doesn't have anything useful though, just another health item, a map and a note to make a map of the area. This does tell me that the path I just got off of leads back to the front. Interesting.
The guard inside the tent is easy pickings, and I also discover that the AI is using the same turning method I use. Interesting. Very interesting. He falls swiftly to my sword. Then I try to get the two guys at the gate. That...doesn't work in my favor. Each time they just kill me. I can't kill one of them fast enough before the other is upon me. So I take the back path inside. This takes a while.
Here, there are three guards just standing there waiting for me. I take these three as an opportunity to learn how to use the sword. Any cleverness regarding combat seems to have been diminished by the uselessness of some attacks. Not to the extent that Alone in the Dark 2 had, mind, but some moves are rather useless. All of one group of actions seem useless, and you generally want to make as much use of the sword's reach as possible. Still by the last one I have things figured out.
Or so I thought. When I reach the duo guarding the front gate, the one I drag away first is incredibly fast. I was half concerned that he was unkillable until I finished him. You have to perfectly time your attacks to prevent him from counterstriking. The other guard is a joke in comparison. Strange, I wonder why they're so different in skill? No matter, they're dead and that's what's important. I know there's a sniper once I run down the path, but I'm going to save that for next time.

This Session: 2 hours

*At least, that's how it happened for the Angry Video Game Nerd and The Spoony One. People aren't exactly raring to review the thing.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Horse Illustrated: Championship Season

The ultimate riding adventure! Champisonship Season as the game keeps calling itself, despite being the smallest part of the title, is possibly one of the most obscure titles from American budget publisher Head Games. From the second I start the title, I can see that however much I spent on this abomination against good taste was probably too much. From the low-quality company introductions, to the name Radish Works, to the low-quality horse FMV...oh...this is going to be bad.

Now, if you don't know who Head Games are, they were effectively Activision's budget for a period in the late '90s. In practice, they released a LOT of trash, just absolute trash. Mostly sports game, for which they've become known these days, but they also had a hand in a few unofficial FPS expansions. Oh, excuse me, there's a horse talking to me. Don't know who the hell Barney is yet, but he's probably not going to be fun to ride...if anything is...

Of course, actually getting to that point isn't fun either. I dare say the majority of playing time here is spent in what amounts to a weird-ass Myst-clone. I repeat. Horse simulation/Myst-clone game. Just because a sentence hasn't been used in the English language before doesn't mean you should use it. I know nothing about horses, and thus the confusing talking horse, Sylvia, while the most annoying thing ever, is vaguely useful.

Oh, but don't get me wrong, the Myst-clone section isn't fun, not even to my Myst-clone enjoying mind. Find the tack, find the bridle. Oh, you don't know what that is? Too bad. Oh, you weren't paying attention to the one your horse needed? Go back and get it. Remember to wash and care for your horse or you'll lose horse points! You really think I'm going to be here long enough for that to be an issue? Everything is hidden away in some small hidey-hole.

Once I get past that...oh...no...The training section is a trap, at least now. The third message causes the game to hang, because the talking horse's prompt disappears. I mean, this game always had issues with the talking horse, but this feels like it was just broken and never fixed. The two page manual says the controls anyway, and its not exactly hard to figure out. Arrow keys and space, like most games of its kind. By that I mean quick and simple arcade games. There are three events.
The first is Dressage, which is running at a certain speed over a series of dots. This is slightly harder than it sounds. Don't confuse that with fun though.
The second is stadium jumping, which involves jumping over a bunch of set fences. This is both harder and easier than you imagine. You need to be earlier than you might think in order to successfully jump over a fence. This caused me a lot of trouble getting used to, although that was with the final event. When I got to this, I only fell off once or twice.
The final one is cross-country, which I started first. Funny. Its like stadium jumping, except with a lot more space. This was the first event I did, but to be honest, its a tad grueling. In all these there's an announcer who speaks whenever you come to a difficult jump, and goes on whenever you jump over anything, success or failure. He's really annoying.
After that, its cleaning the horse...which is really, really lame. I'm not a horse fan or anything, but the lack of feedback in the game is a crime against good design practices. Its especially a problem when the game says it'll penalize you for screwing things up. I can't wash him? Well, why didn't you mention that? That's the only thing I got. Tell me game!
I might have been inclined to play this for a while, but this game is so unresponsive. Button prompts just don't work half the time and if an item doesn't do anything in a specific situation, it just ignores it and treats it like a normal click. Great...great...great. Let's not talk about the generic music. After finishing up perfectly I had less than 50 horse credits, enough to unlock the next event level. Continuing would require me to do increasingly strange choices of event combination, doing all three nearly perfectly got me 15 points. Playing as a different horse? 150. Curiously, there's evidence to suggestion the creation of a horse in-game, although this seems to have been scrapped.

I do not suggest you play this, even as a joke. Its bizarreness is outweighed by its unplayability. Normal service will return after Christmas.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Game 42: Alone in the Dark 2

Name:Alone in the Dark 2
Number:42
Year:1993
Publisher:Infogrames
Developer:Infogrames
Genre:Survival Horror
Difficulty:4/5
Time:11.5 hours

For a Wolfenstein 3D-inspired actionized sequel, Alone in the Dark 2 sure didn't deliver. In fact, its like someone heard Wolf was popular, and then only saw an early developmental build where stealth was still a thing. This is a level of missing the point so hard it might as well have been inspired by Dune 2. The combat isn't even that bad...for the most part. Its the adventure game aspects that ruin it. Even with a relatively limited item pool all the puzzles felt forced and difficult to understand. If you wanted an example of how NOT to do an adventure game, this is the one you'd chose.

Which makes this game so disappointing. I overcame the hurdle of both the combat issue and the goofy issue early on. Which I understand were the primary flaws with this game. If it actually was this overly goofy action B-game, I would have had a big smile throughout the whole game and it'd probably beat Doom of all things. You look at this game with a lot of flaws and instead of going for the obvious part that the game has several puzzles that are practically impossible without looking things up and you say its just a bad action game. Even if every fight was like the one in the attic against a ranged guy and a melee guy jumping around it would still be an improvement so long as it didn't pretend to be an adventure game. EVERYONE was whining about the combat, and the horrible adventure game aspects get a sideline, if that.
That doesn't even begin to talk about all the little errors. Sometimes its a crap shoot as to whether or not you or the enemy can hit each other. Even then it turns into a crap shoot as to whether or not you can keep hitting them. I'm no fighting game expert, but usually when I play those I die because I'm an incompetent idiot. Here there's no reason why or why not you hit something. There's no real challenge to fighting, just guesswork. That's not getting into that sometimes collision was wrong on the game area. Carnby poking out where he shouldn't, because someone set the wrong flag in the editor. This came out two years after the original, why wasn't it tested?
And the section with Grace...c'mon. Especially the CD section where the only thing I get out of it nice looking backgrounds. Cryptic hints that don't make any sense without a look function, stealth that feels non-existent. Why exactly did we need that? Couldn't we have had Carnby slashing his way into the pirate ship? That would have been fun. Instead a zombie pirate can't see a little girl 3 feet away from him, but another one can see her behind crates 3 yards away. None of this game makes any sense. Oh, and I can't forget, some of the paths forward are practically invisible if you don't know they're there. Some of the perspective is incredibly good at hiding paths.
But despite all the doom and gloom, I liked the combat. Sure, starting out it was awkward, and it never really got unawkward. Eventually I learned to work around that to an extent. But once I got into a groove it put a smile on my face, even if some difficult enemy from earlier was now a joke. By the time I finally fought One-Eyed Jack I was actually in full-on fun mode. Which is interesting, because the end-game of the original did not. I was disappointed by Elisabeth being defeated not even in a puzzle fashion, but them's the brakes.

Weapons:
Most of the weapons felt fun to use. Actually hitting something with the fist was amazing, same with the sword cane. The guns, when working as intended, were just so satisying to use. All the sword-fighting, despite sometimes feeling broken in the game's favor, was just so sweet after the Grace section. When they weren't working I never felt like the failure was my fault, which isn't ideal. 5/10
Enemies:
I must admit that despite my general distaste here, I think this was well handled. Despite coming off as a stupid trap, the fights in the attic were interesting. In fact, every big fight the game built up to was satisfying, even if the actual fighting wasn't the best. I also like the design of most of the enemies, its a nice selection. 5/10

Non-Enemies:
There weren't any. 0/10
Levels:
I liked the beginning and I liked the end. The puzzle sections were a bad and the stealth sections can shove right off. 2/10

Player Agency:
There's the usual from the last game, tank controls, awkward running. But we've got some changes, a lack of jumping, combat feeling incredibly awkward. Movement during melee combat is something I think is always necessary. It was always a question of whether or not I could actually hit something there, despite no indication why I was missing. 3/10
Interactivity:
Just so many of the puzzles forced me to dwell on things I had no recourse other than to spam items everywhere or look up a walkthrough. Even some of those were difficult to do after looking it up. Who's going to waste their time pushing everything in the area? Huh? Huh? At no point during the adventure game aspect did I feel I could solve a problem without the game or a walkthrough telling me. 1/10

Atmosphere:
Despite the Christmas theme the game has going on, the whole package is more of a non-threatening children's halloween adventure. At that, I think it succeeds, even if that wasn't the intention. 7/10

Graphics:
I can't say this is too different than the art from the original. Its more of it. Its high quality pixel art with charmingly bad 3d models. A few awkward animations, but hey, its 1993, its not like its that bad. 7/10

Story:
The story drip-feeds the important bits all over the first 3/4s of the game just enough to make it interesting. Its not like the original when its not obvious its going to be cheesy pirate movie until over halfway through, so it has that going for it. 4/10

Sound/Music:
The sound effects, while low-quality, all serve their purpose. With exception to the voice clips the zombies say, which are charmingly bad. The music's the real treasure. It goes all over the game's horror, Christmas, noir and pirate themes and creates something quite cohesive and pleasant to hear. 8/10

That is...42. 11 below the original and exactly the same place as Shadowcaster. I'll keep it as is, I guess. I enjoyed the combat and didn't enjoy the aspects unrelated to shooting, so that makes sense since this is supposed to be about shooting games, not adventure games.

I'll come back later to talk about the console reviews, probably when I do the console versions. They're...interesting looking. Well, if I bothered to do so beforehand I would have put the previews and ads at the start, so I am forced to stick them here...And there's a whopper.

50 hours of gameplay. I don't know if that's true or not, since I didn't do this entirely legitimately, but 50 hours? I thought I was screwing around at times, but imagine trying to pad this out to 50 hours. 70 characters? If you count some of them twice maybe. 15 levels? What exactly is a level in-game context? Hundreds of objects? Hundreds? Frightfully eerie soundtrack? Don't kid yourself. Its no mystery either, virtual mystery my ass.

From Electronic Entertainment, we have someone who appears to be an old hand at adventure games. In addition to the usual gameplay gripping, he whines that the puzzles are...too easy. Okay, whatever. He whines about the plot as cliche, but he clearly wasn't paying attention to it, failing to notice why they kidnapped Grace. 4 out of 5, but only appealing to fans of the original. The rest of the English reviewers aren't very interesting, making the usual points, gunplay, little atmosphere, easy puzzles. Honestly, even the modern English reviews aren't of much interest either, making little new points. A few criticisms about the Grace section...which hardly seem related to the stupidity of the stealth, just that it exists.
I don't feel like going through the non-English reviews, so that will remain a mystery. I doubt they bring up any points that haven't been brought up in English. Maybe I'm just small-brained or something.

Fortunately, my next game isn't going to require me understanding a language other than English, since there aren't any reviews of it. It was in fact, never released. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Blake Stone: Genetic Development and Storage

E2M7:
It took me a long time to pick up the game again after starting this level. Its at this point, that two elements that are sort of Blake Stone's party piece are also the reason why it remains mostly forgotten. There are three things unique to Blake Stone, monster generators, the rocket launcher, and the scientists. Now I realize the rocket launcher is technically not unique, but among Wolf clones, there are very few good games with them, excluding all the Wolfenstein mods, of course. Aliens is unique by being a functioning game despite that. But the other two...well, they're what drag this game down.

The problem with any game with respawning enemies is that you need ammo and health to match them. Doom...well, in Doom its optional. Here, its not. And the time limit is just too short. I have around 5 seconds before I have to put down another plasma spheroid. On this level, I have go through one, especially if I want to get all the secrets. Every time I see one of these I just want to look everything up so I don't have to deal with this crap. My wants win over my desires. To be honest, its not like I HAVE to get the best possible score, and I'm seeing the wisdom in caring less here.

Then we have the friendly scientists. I don't necessarily mind them. I mind having to wait for them to get out of my way. So much of their placement in this game is just straight-up awful. The game has gradually become less about saving scientists and more about how the scientists just end up dying because they don't move from a firefight with a rocket launcher.

The actual level design is getting on my nerves since it feels like nearly every level is the same. Elevator, hallways, cafeteria, storage rooms, hidden storage rooms, alien experimentation rooms. Its a lot like Wolfenstein, except instead of an endless dungeon, its an endless office building. Maybe this level just came at a bad time, maybe its just bad or maybe I just really, really dislike the way this game sets up respawning enemies.

E2M8:
Oh, yeah, having ten music tracks screws with me too. This level reminds me that I forgot the prison and computer room sections. In my defense, I haven't played this in a month. This level has a one-way door in and a one-way door out into the elevator room. Less linear than that implies.

There's a lot of scientists on this level, too many. I'm pretty sure I missed a few hostile ones because I went across the entire level twice and still couldn't kill every enemy. When I was going through a secret they were following me in, it was a pretty big secret too. That's some dedicated amount of crap there. There aren't too many stuck next to guards, but it does get extremely annoying to work through.

E2M9:
New song? What witchcraft is this? There's quite a bit of ammo here, but in terms of health, I'm still up a creek. Right next to the starting room is a secret room with more ammo, but a few STAR troopers. Going into it the first time nearly killed me, and on this floor that's not good.

The Goldfire boss arena is a wide open space with a couple of secrets, a dozen guards and a half dozen pillars. Takes up more than a quarter of the map, and boy does it not feel all that great. The locked room after this doesn't hold the real boss, but does hold about a dozen explosive drones. It just never ends.

The boss is in a slightly more cramped series of rooms, which has the potential to turn into a complete nightmare. Goldfire appears in two places on this level, once in dedicated arena, the other in the drone room. This means that Goldfire can walk in on you fighting the Acid Dragon...which is one ugly looking fellow. He seems rather easy on his own or even with the mutants in the room with him, but I could just be lucky. After that its basically a clear swing, just a few rooms full of treasure. Apparently I missed something the first time around, but its just a little something. It made me think I had a shot at getting 100%, but no dice.

E2M10:
What the hell is this music? It sounds like the kind of song that would play before you have to fight off a space oil sheik. After playing through this level it makes me feel deeply unwell for some reason.

The crux of this level's design is that there are two big secrets, one consuming the western side, and one small outgrowth on the eastern side. In order to get everything, one needs to go to the western one first, for a key, then the other one for another key. There's a third key, this one out in the open, but the vault it opens feels lackluster.


There's a lot of aliens here, and those aliens move around a bit, so while I was walking around, with 92% kills and everything mostly explored, I assumed there were some I missed. Nah, just a trap secret. Ah...joy.

To advance the plot, this apparently kills off Goldfire's intelligence gathering abilities. Yay.

This Session: 3 hours

Total Time: 21 hours

Monday, November 9, 2020

Alone in the Dark 2 - Davy Jones's Locker

 Oh, let this be the end. Let this be the end.

Enemies now turn into skeletons, something supposed to show they're actually dying. Meh

Things start off good enough. In each room is another guard, in each room I defeat him. I'm getting items, health items, weapons, armor. Things are looking good. Then in one room there's a "puzzle" where you have to figure out how move a barrel away from some items. I end up pushing it into the items and reload.

Didn't catch a lot of good action shots here, I'm afraid
This turns out to be not very good for me. After reloading a few of the guards start causing me trouble. Not the melee ones, but the ranged ones. Its not a very good sign that combat basically has no chance of shifting once the fighting actually starts. There's a little chance of shifting if your follow-up blows don't land, but eh...

Stupid push puzzles really annoy me
After some unnecessary amount of time, I get the item I missed...a message in a bottle. I have to throw it, because that's what happened last time. It has a note about "immortals", specifically the damned ones. All it says is I have to kill them twice. As I go outside I note there's another guard walking around. I wonder what that's related to.

Note guard 2, politely waiting for me to kill the other
Next room contains two guards, unlike the others, they drop nothing, but otherwise the room is filled with them. Including "A guite useful key", a poker, and pliers.

You're not supposed to shoot in here, but I wasn't exactly doing that anyway
The key opens up the final door here, containing a tough guard. He blocks...some of the attacks. He dies eventually, dropping a powder keg and a book explaining how to use the powder keg. What follows is another obtuse puzzle.

If you have mail on, the enemies don't hurt you until that's gone. Unfortunately, you can't hurt them period

See, I have to put the powder keg in the room of some sleeping guards. What you might think you have to do is put it somewhere, put the fuse in, light it, run away. That would be too easy. No. This requires some placement, although the game is kind enough to put it where it needs to be. Also, this section seems to glitch out even more, which is great.

So much effort for what should be a simple puzzle
What you have to do is go to the room across the hall, which isn't very easy to see. There you kill the guard and cut the chain on the cannon in this room. Then, you have to find the precise spot to push the cannon into position, this is a pre-decided push once again, once you're done, its over. Just put in the fuse and pop goes the barrel. Inside is a pouch of gold coins...which will unlock a door.
Why do they have short chefs anyway?
This is less insane than it sounds, it just makes the two waiters alert. They're not too much trouble. Then there's a larder I didn't see before, inside the return of the chef with the blowgun. He drops a metallic jack of diamonds which is really more like a deck in shape and size. That unlocks the final door.
No, anything but Grace again!
This reveals Elisabeth, who naturally controls Carnby again. Fortunately Grace has been hiding the whole time and comes in just in time. Its not much of a puzzle to do what needs to be done, the staff on the statue and then the chicken foot on Elisabeth. That kills her straight off.
Elisabeth, three seconds before dying
Then it returns to Carnby, who is chased by a big pirate. The pirate is seemingly invincible, so I run off to the top of the ship. This makes that pirate disappear...for some reason.
Its now or never
Here, I have to finally defeat the main pirate group that's been mocking me on the death screen. They're surprisingly easy to kill, but still fairly involved to do so. The musician, the dancer from earlier, two big spear-throwers, and another guy that didn't make much of an impact. I get the musician through gunfire and the spear-thrower through swordfighting. Then it gets interesting. The other guy is the only one left on the ground, because of how I was looking, I didn't see the other two disappear.
This fight looks nastier than it really is
The first is on the mast, one of the big spear-throwing fellows. He's not that hard. What follows is the last puzzle of the game, use a hook on the rope to reach the other mast.
Turning from the most deadly enemy to the weakest, and he did it himself
Which leads to the least dangerous fight in the game, despite how it seems otherwise. The dancing fellow. He doesn't have any room to move, so I just cut him through. He falls over, and lacking another escape route, I follow.
I've had better final bosses
Then, its the fight against the big cheese himself. This is tricky. Its not obvious how to proceed at first. The game tells you to save Grace, but it doesn't tell you that One-Eyed Jack isn't going to bother you when you do it. So it took me a few tries, during which I never actually died at Jack's hands, but rather at the ends of a cannon firing and destroying the ship by a chain-reaction. See, you have to free Grace, who tells you about the cannon, and then you can disarm that and kill Jack without problems.
Look at Carnby not waving, the big jerk
Jack goes down twice and the game is over. Jack's still alive, but he attempts to shoot a cannon at Carnby and Grace, escaping in a boat, but that backfires, destroying the cave and ship. All is well. For now anyway.

Total Time: 11.5 hours