Reviews

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean – Review

Release Date: Out Now!
Developer: Travellers Tales
Publisher: Disney
Singleplayer: Yes
Splitscreen: Yes
Multiplayer: No
PEGI: 7+

There is just one day left as I write this until the launch of the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, On Stranger Tides, and it’s fair to say that I’m a little excited, so what better way to celebrate than to play the newest LEGO game which encompasses all four films! Wait, didn’t we have a LEGO game just a month or two ago?

LEGO Pirates tells the truncated tale of Jack Sparrow and friends, following the events of all four films to do so. Like previous LEGO games the story simply doesn’t make much sense, but that’s because the game is aimed at fans of the films who already know the storyline, and can therefore focus on the hilarious antics of the LEGO characters. Classic moments from the films are relieved through great cutscenes injected with that fabled LEGO humour, and the fact they’ve captured the movements and mannerisms of Jack so well helps to add to the experience. His swagger has been perfectly captured and translated into a plastic minifigure, and while he walks his arms flair in that slightly loose way that makes the Jack Sparrow character such a hit. The cuteness and charm of watching little plastic people try to mime idea’s certainly hasn’t faded yet, and there’s plenty of nods to the films hidden away in cutscenes and the game itself to keep fans happy.

Cutscenes are all very well, but the gameplay in between those funny moments has to be up to par and Pirates doesn’t disappoint, however it also doesn’t change much. While the last LEGO game, LEGO Star Wars: The Clone Wars, introduced an RTS element and a few other gameplay ideas, Pirates is a far more traditional LEGO experience. Most of your time is spent either fighting, platforming or puzzle solving. The puzzles are still the most entertaining part,  usually managing to strike a good balance between easy enough for kids to solve, and just hard enough to leave some adults scratching their heads, which again proves that kids are indeed smarter.  , there is some inconsistent prompts during puzzles which can often completely solve a puzzle for you, and at other times fail to help you at all leaving you to wander around looking for some random item which shows no sign of being a usable or important item. They do make good use of the source material though, such as having to fight off the Kraken by lighting cannons and rescuing shipmates.

Replaying levels and exploring are still a huge part of the game, and with 70 characters to pick from, with most having different abilities, you’ve got a good few to pick from when going back to play a level. You’ll often need to bring specific characters to an area to gain access to previously inaccessible areas. During these journeys you’ll pick up Studs ( no, not that sort) that can be used to buy new characters and secrets, mini-kits and other shiny objects. 

During the exploration you will occasionally required to do some platforming, and in Pirates it’s a little rough, often due to the off-putting camera angles which can  make judging leaps a bit tricky. There are some assists in place though to help make leaps a bit easier, but in turn that takes away any sense of skill that usually goes hand in hand with platforming.

The combat elements of Pirates remain as same as the previous LEGO installments; simply tap X to attack. It may be simple but sword fights with opponents look pretty damn cool with sparks flying as characters parry and strike, and though it requires no skill it’s still entertaining when fighting the likes of Jack Sparrow atop the rolling wheel. Occasionally you will be asked to fight endless spawning enemies while trying to solve a puzzle, which can certainly be a little irritating, but for the most part combat is enjoyable.

This is certainly the best looking LEGO game to date though. The Clone Wars also looked great, but Pirates out does it by its brighter locations and variety in scenery. The little plastic characters are beautifully animated, which is saying something for a small lump of plastic, and the level of detail in levels and scenery is quite stunning at times. Complicated scenes from the film are translated into simple facial expressions, and yet somehow they work thanks to Travellers Tales fantastic ability to turn any major scene into a hugely entertaining piece of comedy while still remaining true to the films.

The entire musical score from the films has also been stuck into the game, and it’s just as awesome as it was in the movies. Hearing those soaring scores while watching LEGO characters run around like little nutters is utterly fantastic.

Finally we come to the co-op, of which Pirates supports in split screen format. Playing with friends practically doubles the fun you’ll have while swaggering around as Jack, and having a real player solves the problem of the occasionally dodgy AI which gets itself stuck or fails to help you out during puzzles, unless said friends happens to be a bit short on the ‘ol IQ points.
Sadly, there is still no Xbox Live support for co-op so you can’t play with friends unless they’re in the same room. The choice to not include such a feature is still a little baffling as it has been in the series before.

This is a fairly short review, but little more can be said; this is a traditional LEGO game that still offers great fun and plenty of laughs. It’s a shame that Pirates almost seems to take a step backwards from The Clone Wars which made quite a few impressive gameplay changes, but arguably it’s mostly down the source material; The Clone Wars lent itself to massive battles where RTS elements could quite easily be integrated into the gameplay. Pirates simply doesn’t have enough area’s where such a thing could be implemented well.

If you still love LEGO games, or simply love Pirates of the Caribbean, then you’re going to have great fun with this game, but if you’ve grown tired of the LEGO formula then this isn’t going to re-spark your interest, for that I would recommend playing LEGO Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The Good:
+ Still funny!
+ LEGO Jack Sparrow!
+ All four films in one game!

The Bad:
– Still the same gameplay formula.
– Some dodgy platforming.
– Occasionally wonky AI.

Scores:

Graphics: 8
Lovely locations and great animations. Jacks swagger is spot on.

Sound: 9
The voice acting is sparse, just the occasional shout from Jack ( which perfectly imitates the real deal).  The musical score is utterly brilliant.

Gameplay: 8
It doesn’t change the formula, but it’s still entertaining to play and general refinements have made it a much more polished experience.

Story: 6
If you’ve never watched the films then LEGO Pirates will be utterly baffling, but if you have watched the films, and I assume you have, then all the major scenes are played out brilliantly with the usual LEGO charm.

Lifespan: 8
Playing through the four films will take you a good bit of time, but if you want to see and collect everything be prepared to spend a while playing.

Overall: 8
It may not have changed the formula much, but LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean stands as one of the best LEGO games yet, and a fitting tribute to the films.

 

2 replies »

    • Actually, no they aren’t. These images are taken from Gamespress who collect together all press release images and serve as a hub for games journalists.. The watermark is due to Disney sponsoring Gamespress.

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