May 252011

It’s a pretty safe bet that when the Pirates of the Caribbean ride launched at Disneyland over four decades ago no one thought that it would have evolved into a multi-billion dollar franchise for Disney. Tons of movies, novels, merchandise lines, new rides, and video games have raked in a bigger cache of bootie than even Blackbeard himself could shake a peg leg at. The fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, subtitled On Stranger Tides, had the video game tie-in of LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Game. Not to worry, however–unlike other games with movie tie-ins which often suffer from being rushed, this game will shiver the timbers of even the most mild of pirate fans.

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Game doesn’t really bring anything new to the galley table in terms of gameplay. What you get is typical and satisfying LEGO game fare where you smash everything in sight to pieces and collect the LEGO studs that act as the game’s currency. As you bash you will occasionally find important items like keys, or Lego bricks you can build a necessary item with. These items are needed to help you advance through the level and reach the next segment of the story. Along the way, you will probably see items you cannot activate or areas you cannot reach. This is because as you continue to beat the game, you will unlock more characters that have the special abilities you need to get to previously unreachable areas or items when replaying levels in Free Play mode. For example, cursed characters don’t run out of breath under water and Jack Sparrow comes with a magical compass that he can use to find certain items in each level. The reason this formula remains unchanged is that it is simple and fun, and it is often incredibly satisfying to run around a level on a destructive rampage after a long day of looting and pillaging at the office.


Collecting items in hard-to-reach places is one of the main things to do in Lego games.

If you’ve played a LEGO game before, this may all sound a little typical. However, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean does mix things up a little. Your objectives almost always center around solving a series of environmental puzzles. Previous games, such as the LEGO Star Wars games, have centered more on combat. There are also other additions, such as the golden arrow on-screen that guides you toward a particularly important objective or shows you where to place a crucial item. Unfortunately this feature was under implemented. There were a few times when there was little to no direction regarding what move should be made next, and many frustrating minutes were spent yelling “Show me the bloody golden arrow, ye scalawag, or it’s the plank for ya!”

Swashbuckling with a friend is a lot of fun thanks to the easy drop-in/drop-out feature, and the interesting use of the split screen. If someone wants to play along with player one, they simply need to pick up a Wii remote and Nunchuck and press the Plus button. They then can cooperatively help the other player solve the level’s puzzles. The game will keep both players on the same screen until they are too far apart to do so. Then the line separating the screens shifts depending on how far away the two characters are and what direction they are. The angle slowly changes when the players come back together and effortlessly disappears when the two characters are close enough. It is a really weird and unique effect that needs to be seen to be fully understood.

Visually, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Game has all of the brightly colored cuteness that has become the hallmark of any game carrying the LEGO brand. Characters and items are all made out of LEGO bricks, but the background environments have an almost photo-realistic look to them that seems strange at first, but works quite well overall. One of the best visual features of the game is characters’ facial expressions. They have a very limited range of expressions, but the development team at Traveler’s Tales did a superb job at picking the most effective and humorous looks for every character. Cut-scenes are pre-rendered, but their look blends seamlessly with the game engine. A lot of laughs can be found in these cutscenes as well. The most convoluted and complex plot moments are boiled down to a ten or fifteen second clip, and all dialogue has been replaced with grunting or other non-linguistic vocalizations. Sound in the game is also well-done. The music seems to be a mixture of both slight variations and direct lifts from the movie soundtracks. The fully orchestrated music helps boost the sense of adventure and lessen the stigma more “hardcore gamers” may feel has been placed on them for playing a kids’ game. It’s a blast to hear all the dramatic dialogue boiled down to a few grunts and growls and giggles.

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Game may not innovate or overhaul the tried and true LEGO game formula, but what you will get is a no-nonsense puzzler/adventure combining two wildly successful pop culture elements: LEGO and pirates. The environmental puzzles are surprisingly challenging at times, a fact that is perhaps compounded by the lack of in-game direction to identify the level’s objective. A solid multiplayer element means you and a crewmate can team up to run around and bash the holy hell out of everything in the game’s cutely rendered environments. There is, unfortunately, little to no incentive to replay old levels to collect every single item and character except for players of the “completionist” sect. Overall, this is a simple and fun game that can be a great alternative for players that want to get away from the dastardly deeds that are so frequently portrayed in video games these days.

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Game

Great pick-up-and-play fun that literally the whole family can enjoy, good for some laughs at times, cute visual presentationReplaying levels with new characters to arbitrarily collect items is pretty tedious, there is really nothing new here compared to other LEGO-themed games, lack of direction is frustrating
VerdictIt's fun to bash up things made of LEGO, and the manner in which these movies are portrayed is often quite funny. This is a great game for any fan of previous LEGO games or Pirates of the Caribbean.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>