Quoted from iloveplywood:
... Pirates also seems non-linear with tons of modes, my only concern about that game is that the modes don't come across as very distinct. Plus with all the stacking of modes it seems to meld together in a giant multiball of everything. These perceptions are based entirely on watching streams though, so owners of the game will have a lot more useful info. Pirates does look like a fantastic game.
POTC's 125 different possible modes (actually movie "chapters") are, admittedly, not as great as they could have been if JJP had been able to include audio and video from the movies in them other than the opening cut scene for each. The only real difference between each is which characters (of 22 possible), and how many, you need to shoot (each has a specific shot on the playfield) to complete the particular activated chapter. The more movie chapters you complete, of the five required to be played in order to start each movie's wizard mode, the more points that wizard mode will be worth.
While still challenging and fun, completing movie chapters is NOT the main challenge in POTC though (for me anyway). Rather, playing the game is like trying to effectively conduct an orchestra to create beautiful music (or score big points in this case). You're trying to set up and then activate multiballs in sync with completing chapters; win, activate, and use PIRATE lane awards (such as timed playfield or shot multipliers); collect gold to qualify Tortuga multiball; and do it all effectively to progress toward the wizard mode for each movie.
Throw in the pros and cons of each of the potential 22 characters you can play as; the 10 different levels of the Tortuga mystery award groups; the many possible combinations of the map awards; completing the treasure winning shots for Treasure Horde mode; solving and shooting bonus star map constellation shots; and the risk/reward of playing a side game of Liar's Dice; and you have a beautifully challenging, ever-changing mix of elements that provide a remarkable variety of strategies and gameplay options. All beautifully depicted on a playfield full of smooth shots and unique toys and mechs and depicted with fantastic graphics on a big backbox screen.
Ok - seems overwhelming I know, and it is at first. But as you get a few games under your belt, it all comes together wonderfully. I've owned quite a few Sterns, and they've all been fun games, but none (including the deeper code ones such as Batman 66) has equalled the total package that JJP POTC offers.