LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean Review – A Pirate’s Life for Me

Traveller’s Tales has been putting out Lego games for what seems to be a long time now.  I’ve honestly never given them much thought previously until they put out their Pirates of the Caribbean version in May.  I figured what the hell and decided to jump in.  Off the bat, the game features way more content than you’d expect as you’re able to play through all four movies and then collect an ungodly amount of characters spanning from all four films.  What about actual gameplay?  Will you find treasure with this game or should it just walk the plank?

Read on to find out!

The game starts you off in The Port, a sort of hub world where you are able to purchase characters walking around, open new areas that are unlocked by collecting “Gold Bricks”, and more importantly, jumping into the game’s story mode and free play levels. I found myself addicted to just smashing up things and seeing the Lego studs constantly get added to my total.  It’s great fun just swinging your sword and having the Lego blocks fly around.  Gold Bricks are awarded for completing levels, completing side missions in each of the levels, getting “True Pirate” on the levels, collecting the minikits hidden in each level, and completing the objectives on Jack Sparrow’s compass.  If you’ve played any Lego game prior, this is all standard stuff.  The gold bricks will let you open up new areas in the hub world and allow you to unlock more hidden “Red Hats” as well.  The Red Hats are the game’s cheats that, once purchased, will allow you use things like fast building, prevent fall deaths, and adding multipliers on the studs you pick up.  They’re basically fun diversions that cost a ton of Lego studs but you don’t mind shelling out for because it forces you to go smash-up more Lego blocks.

Like I mentioned before, the game features all four movies with five levels in each.  When put all together, the game probably clocks in around 8-10 hours, but if you’re like me, you’ll be going back over and over again to collect more Lego studs or just complete the things you missed the first time around.  Story mode is your first option and it has you playing through each movie with the particular characters, showing cut scenes, and highlighting the big events from each of the movies.  One thing you’ll notice is that there is no dialogue in the game at all.  The characters gesture, silently act out what’s happening, make sound effects and honestly, Traveller’s Tales pulls it off perfectly.  I never had a problem following what was going on (seeing the movies probably helped as well) and the game has a great sense of humor as well.  Whether it’s from the fantastic way Jack Sparrow runs, to the humor injected into the cut scenes, Traveller’s Tales knows how to make games engaging and interesting.  Once you beat the level in story mode, you unlock free play for it, which lets you play as any character you’ve unlocked so far and can switch on the fly to explore things you may not of had access to during the story mode.  Characters have different abilities, so unlocking/purchasing more is key to completing the side missions on every level.  Thought I’ve noticed that there are a bunch of similar/clone characters which is disappointing a bit.

From a difficulty standpoint, it’s not overly hard.  Then again, it’s a Lego game, so to me, the fun factor is much more important than the difficulty.  Still, there are moments when you may get stuck or just have no idea what to do.  If there’s one thing I wish this game did better, is just actually give you directions or point you the right way.  There were many times when I had no idea what it wanted me to do, so I’d have to look it up online only to realize that what I was missing was extremely simple.  What’s weird is that sometimes the game gives you hints and other times, it just seems to leave you hanging without any help. I’m not saying that I want them to hold my hand throughout, I’d just like an objectives list or maybe even highlight the object it wants me to interact with.  Also, it’s very easy to fall to your death in certain sequences as the platforming elements at times can be problematic whethe rbecause of the level design or the precise jumping needed.  Characters may push into each other causing an unfortunate/cheap death.  There’s also a few areas where large battles are taking place.  With the amount of people on the screen, it can be hard to figure out who’s helping you and who’s trying to hurt you, again resulting in a cheap death.  You constantly respawn but you do lose some studs as a penalty.  Put a few cheap deaths together and frustration may creep in.

Thankfully, the gameplay is varied.  Though you’re basically doing the same thing throughout the 4 movies, Traveller’s Tales manages to mix things up so that it never gets stale or boring.  They made an effort to focus on only the major plot points of each movie, cutting out the less exciting stuff.  You’ll be playing through memorable moments from the movies like fighting on top of the large wooden wheel as it rolls down a hill, fighting the Kraken, and rescuing Jack from Davy Jones’ Locker for example.  It’s all good fun and won’t leave you bored.  There are moments playing the game however when the camera isn’t being cooperative by not giving you a decent viewing angle or the platforming sections want you to be extremely precise than the controls and jumping mechanic will allow, but those moments don’t occur too often to really be a huge pain.

For those of you looking for a local co-op experience, don’t be afraid to jump into this one.  You can play through the entire game with a friend if you want and it’s great fun just smashing the environment looking for Lego studs.  The game features a dynamic split screen so when you’re not in the same picture together, the screen splits in half following each player individually.  While this is a great feature to let players explore at their own pace, though the actual screen splitting can be pretty disorienting.  The co-op mode does not split the screen horizontally or vertically like some games. Instead, the screen actually splits based on your position to the other player.  This results in the camera sometimes getting off-center from your position or having your viewpoint obstructed from the constantly shifting screen divider causing you not being able to see what’s ahead of you.  It’s not the worst thing in the world, just kind of a rough spot.  Also, friendly fire….err…slashing is on, so wildly swinging or shooting in a crowd may result in you hurting your co-op partner.  Finally, strangely enough, there’s no online co-op to be found, only local.  Still, the fun definitely outweighs any negatives here and the world can always use more local co-op games right?

Visually, there’s really no reason to judge the game harshly.  Obviously, it’s not going to compare to Crysis 2 or other modern-day games.  Traveller’s Tales purposely made the Lego objects look plastic, just how a normal Lego piece would appear in real life with everything else getting a more realistic look.  For a Lego game, it looks great and may even be the best of the bunch.  Same goes for the animations, as they’re pretty well done.  Character mannerisms, for example, are pretty accurate to their real life movie counterparts.

Don’t be fooled by the kiddie graphics or simplistic style, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean is a downright fun game for kids and adults alike.  While it’s not technically flawless, I had a way more fun time than anything else.  The game will have you hooked once you break apart a Lego person or smash furniture and see Lego studs fly out for the first time.  You’ll suffer through some cheap and frusterating moments, but as a whole, the fun and humor wash any displeasure away.  Featuring the score from Hans Zimmer as well, Lego Pirates is a game worthy of your time.

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean gets 4 Lego studs, out of 5

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