LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean Review
The LEGO series of games are an interesting anomaly. Seemingly targeted at kids, they have captured the imagination (and the gaming time) of a large portion of gamers. Not only that, they’re great games to play with your kids, if you happen to have any. The newest entry into the series takes on another extraordinarily popular film property, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean.
Like the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Batman games before it, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean basically consists of you playing through the storyline of the movies, including the soon-to-be-released On Stranger Tides. All of your favorite characters are there, from the swashbuckling Captain Jack Sparrow all the way down to the dog in the jail scene from the first movie.
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean (XBox360 [Reviewed], PS3, 3DS, Wii, PSP, PC, DS)
Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Release Date: May 10, 2011
One thing that LEGO games always do well is presentation, and it sparkles here as well.The environments are extremely nice to look at, and set off the blocky structures of the world you can interact with quite well. You’ll also see plenty of familiar environments from the film recreated in the game, including the Black Pearl and others. Nowhere is this more evident than in the OnStranger Tides sections of the game, as you see the bustling streets of London below you as you scale across balconies.
As usual, the folks at TT Games did a masterful job bringing the story and feel of the narrative into the game without using any voice acting at all. Instead, you get the usual LEGO figures grunting, nodding, and even facepalming, and it works just as well as it always has. Even in the On Stranger Tides sections of the games, you can get the gist of what is going on fairly easily without having ever seen the film.
Like many of the prior LEGO titles, another area where LEGO Pirates shines is the characters and their animations. The stumbling, swaying Jack Sparrow of the movies is on full display here. It also embodies the intentionally slapstick humor that Johnny Depp brought to the character, having Captain Jack occasionally hit foes over the head with a bottle, or toss a banana for them to slip on. Davy Jones is appropriately menacing, albeit in a fairly harmless way.
The gameplay of LEGO Pirates is the usual mix of puzzle solving, platforming, and collecting
LEGO studs treasure that can be used to unlock more characters and extra perks like regenerating health and treasure multipliers. Unfortunately, the same gameplay means that LEGO Pirates is also saddled with a lot of the same problems the other LEGO games have as well.
First off, the platforming is still atrocious. The fixed camera angle makes many jumps simply exercises in repetition, and sometimes you’ll even find yourself trying to land on a walkway or area that’s out of frame, leading to ‘leap of faith’ gameplay. Secondly, if you’re playing co-op, it’s not at all unusual for your partner to knock you off a ledge into a swamp that kills you on contact, or water that requires you to swim back and start the whole sequence over again. The adaptive split-screen camera is still OK, but it often gives you a view that’s simply useless for what you are trying to do. These aren’t new issues for LEGO games, but it’s frustrating to see them continue to present themselves after this many titles.
Another are that greatly frustrated me was the ‘port,’ the mission hub for LEGO Pirates. In most LEGO games, you interact with an object that gives you a menu of characters available for purchase. Not so here, as you instead find yourself wandering around and hoping to bump into the character you want to buy in the port. Even if you are fortunate enough to find them, you’ll have to chase them down to get just the right spot for the proper prompt to appear. Unlike the other issues described above, this one is unique to LEGO Pirates, and it’s a step back for the series.
There is replay value to be had here. As in the other LEGO titles, you’ll need to replay boards in ‘Free Play’ mode (unlocked once you complete the board in ‘Story Mode’) to unlock secrets that can’t be accessed during your first playthrough. However, the issues above still plague you. Once you finish all the fetching and collecting though, there’s really no reason to play the game anymore unless you’re a rabid Pirates of the Caribbean fan.
All in all, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is exactly what you’d expect it to be. A mindless, fun little romp through the locales that we enjoyed so much in the movies it’s based on. If you’ve played the LEGO titles before, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. Just don’t expect that it’s going to change any of the lingering issues from the previous versions.
- Great-looking environments
- Faithful recreation of the movies
- Great characterization
- It’s still fun
- Frustrating platforming
- Poor camera angles
- Adaptive split-screen is far too hit and miss.
- Annoying interactions between missions, frustrating unlock purchase system