(This review was completed on the Xbox 360 version. Please note that the Windows release is due out on May 24.)
Avast! Thar may be some of ye out there who have not yet played a bloody Lego franchise game… Ye scurvy sons of wenches, this be an unacceptable course!
*COUGH COUGH* Ok, enough with the Renn Fest moment. Look, I know it’s all too easy to look at something like a Lego game and assume it’s a “kiddie game.” For those of you that are Padinga readers, let me say this. How does a game sound that has you, a plumber, saving a princess while squishing walking mushrooms and turtles? Like something so ridiculous only children would play it? I rest my case.
So here’s the deal. If you’ve never played a Lego game, and you’re a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, now is the time to start. Hell, if you just like the brand of game that Traveller’s Tales puts together under the Lego moniker, you can’t go wrong here. More details beyond the edge of yon plank! Now walk!
Some would call Lego games formulaic, and they’d be right, but sometimes this is to the game’s credit. You know exactly what you’re getting with a Lego game, and where you stand with it. The same destroy-everything-in-site, find-hidden-objects, solve-easy-to-medium-difficulty-puzzles, unlock-new-characters-to-access-new-areas, humorous-retelling, Lego-everything game is here, and you know what? It’s the same as the original Lego Star Wars that we fell in love with. Why did we fall in love with it? Because it’s a great system. Drop-in-drop-out co-op returns, as does the split-screen co-op from the past few games that made co-op bearable.
With the exception of the occasional bug, everything about Lego PotC is just hooks-down well-made. (Hooks-down instead of hands-down… Get it? Peh. Screw you.) The graphics are smooth, and the sound & music are expertly crafted. The cut-scenes are marvelously done; there’s a lot of story to tell in the Pirates movies, so the cut-scenes tend to be rather long (and with an affinity towards adding in pigs in hilarious places that one would not expect), but in this case, long cut-scenes do not get in the way of the fun.
One example of just how much polish has gone into the production values is Jack Sparrow himself. (Sorry, CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow.) The Lego characters rarely walk from place to place, especially when you’re controlling them, rather choosing to get from location to location as expeditiously as possible by running. In every Lego game, however, the characters (with the exception of stiff legged droids) all run the same way. Anyone who’s seen the PotC movies knows that Captain Jack Sparrow does not run like normal human beings. This game acknowledges that, and has the little Lego Johnny Depp running about with his arms flailing beside him, just like in the movies. They have translated the personality of Sparrow perfectly into Lego form, not content to let formula solely define their game.
Again, everything about this game is just solidly done.
The game, in and of itself, summarizes a rather large body of work. An entire world is being brought to life in this game, and though it was originally presented on the silver screen (not counting the original ride… Yes, kids, it was a ride FIRST), this game represents the world well. It serves, in a way, as a companion piece to the cinematic body of work, providing a complete, if retold, snapshot of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Let me give you another example. There is one short scene in the movies where the dwarf character fires a rather massive handgun and is sent flying backwards for his effort. The same character is present in the game, and his key feature is being able to fire this same gun, and every time, gets thrown backwards a few feet. This one single element from the movie was preserved and utilized to balance out this otherwise overly-powerful trait.
What’s more, the game feels like it’s a Pirates game. You’ll be searching for buried treasure, swinging and zipping along ropes from ship to ship, and engage in epic sword fights with navy troops and evil pirate crewers alike. It’s enough to make you wish you could swing from the yardarm, keepin’ a weather eye to the horizon, brandishin’ yer cutlass and give out a mighty “Yarrrrrrrrrrr!”
I grew up loving Lego, so perhaps I’m a little biased towards Lego games in general. But I digress. One of my favorite Lego collections growing up was the Pirates collection, and this game actually implements several of the ship designs and miscellaneous parts from that collection. TT could have gone back to scratch on designs for ships, cutlasses, and parrots, but instead they used the classics. Extra booty be to you for classiness, TT.
Some would call the Lego games formulaic, and they’d be right… and sometimes this is a detriment. While Lego Pirates is probably one of the most polished Lego games, it’s also one of the most conservative. It makes great strides to feel more like a pirate adventure, but beyond that, it’s the same Lego game. Destroy this, destroy that, keep destroying that because it’s not fully destroyed yet, collect all the Lego studs, collect more Lego studs, switch to character that can get through obstacle E, retrieve object, build path to get to next area. See where I’m going with this? Lego PotC is not a revolution, nor an evolution. If you’re getting sick of Lego games, you’d probably best avoid this one unless the Pirates franchise itself really floats the cut o’ your jib.
In my opinion, this is the GRAVEST offense of this game.
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean was released May 10, 2011. It contains the story from the newest film, On Stranger Tides, which will be released this Friday, May 20. In other words, it’s one big spoiler bomb. If you’re anything like me, and you HATE spoilers with a burning passion undying borne of the lowest depths of the foulest of Hells, you will not be able to complete this game until AT LEAST 10 days after its release. I cry thee foul, Disney Interactive!
Yes, this does mean this review is based upon an incomplete experience, as I have not yet played the final 5 levels. But, as stated above, Lego games tend to be formulaic; the last 5 levels will be just like the previous 15, just with the new story added, and I can’t wait to go see the new movie so I can play its Lego counterpart.
All in all, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean is an enjoyable experience. If you’ve tired of the Lego formula, this one’s not a departure, but fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies or of the Lego games will find this is right up their metaphorical alley. Four out of five stars!
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean was played through to the end of the 3rd film (3 out of 4) on the Xbox 360. Many levels were replayed on Free Play.