2011-05-19

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean – Captain Jack Gets Legofied

by Yo Snyder

When Travelers Tales took simple game mechanics combined with
charming humor and the universal appeal of Legos combined with some of
the most recognizable entertainment properties around, they discovered a
winning formula that has served them well over the years. While
I still think the series could use some refreshing, the fact of the
matter is it still works. I may not enjoy the games for quite as long as
I used to, but I still find them fun and entertaining. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean
is no exception. It doesnt stray from the formula, makes excellent use
of the Pirates franchise, but ultimately feels far too familiar to
provide any lasting fun.

I will say this, however, when my wife say me playing Lego Pirates of the Caribbean
she said that of all the Lego games Ive played, and Ive played all of
them, this was the one she was most interested in playing with me. It
just looked like a lot of fun. And it is. One of the keys to this
particular game is how well it exudes the Pirates of the Caribbean
charm. I dont know how they did it, but some how Travelers Tales was
able to perfectly capture the peculiar gait and swagger of Captain Jack
Sparrow in Lego form. I still havent tired of seeing him stumble about
on screen. Theyve also improved the combat animations; sword fights are
actually interesting to watch and depending on which character youre
playing with, theyll have a slightly different flair to their
swordplay. Again, how they did that in Lego form, Im not sure. In
short, the developers paid great attention to detail in this game
thereby taking the fun and charm of the Pirates movies and somehow made
it even more charming and fun in Lego form.

I also have to admit they do a pretty good job with the story, but
considering what a mess the sequel are plot wise, its still hard to
follow along with whats happening. More so because theres no dialogue,
so if you dont remember the movies well, youre likely to be
completely lost as to whats going on (which is pretty much how many
people felt about the movies anyway). Still, the cut scenes are often
quite entertaining with their trademark Lego humor, so if you dont know
whats happening, youll still end up smiling and chuckling at the
goofy antics on screen. Of course, you dont really play Lego games for
their stories, you play them because theyre fun. And theyre still fun,
right?

Well, yeah, although its all pretty familiar stuff so the gameplay
can quickly get old. You run around and smash everything you can to get
Lego studs and solve simple puzzles while doing some simple platforming.
Well, its supposed to be simple, but it isnt always. Sometimes
solutions are simple but obscure. You may need to use a special skill
from one of your characters that you may not even be aware of. How can
that be? Well in this game you can have a half-dozen characters
following you around in your party. While theoretically this could add
variety, it often just makes things crowded and confusing. Its easy to
switch between them thanks to the character wheel, but it really doesnt
add anything worthwhile to the actual gameplay. As for the platforming,
it remains as imprecise as ever, and sometimes its complicated even
further by awkward camera angles. These issues arent quite as vexing as
they were in some of the past games (sadly I think Lego Batman was the worst when it came to obscure puzzles), but it remains a problem even after all these years.

However, like all Lego games, theres no lack of content here. You can play through events from all four movies (thats right, including the newly released On Stranger Tides),
and theres plenty of hidden stuff to find and new characters to
unlock. You can also play with a friend (or my case, your wife), but the
continued omission of online co-op is a pretty glaring one. I
understand the thinking that this is a family game to be played together
in the same room, and thats admirable, but at least give me the option
to play with a friend online. Especially since the A.I. is pretty hit
or miss at times, its nice having a friend to help out, and if my
family isnt around, what am I supposed to do?

When it comes to Lego games these days, you dont really buy them
because you love the Lego franchise, you buy the one thats based on the
franchise you love the most. So if you love Harry Potter, you get Lego Harry Potter. If you Star Wars, you get Lego Star Wars. Why do I bring that up? Because the decision of whether or not Lego Pirates of the Caribbean
is game you should play depends greatly on how big of a fan you are of
the Pirates franchise. This is a Lego game. You know exactly what youre
going to get and how it plays. So how interested in you specifically in
a Lego version of Pirates. If you love Captain Jack Sparrow, youll
love him even more in Lego form. If youre tired of Lego games in
general, theres nothing here that will change your mind. Is it fun?
Yes. Is it a great take on the Pirates franchise? You bet it is. But
its also very much more of the same-old, same-old Lego formula.

Score out of 7:

Graphics: 6 – This is a great looking game. The Legos look more Lego
like, and to have them set against a more realistic backdrop looks
fantastic. Plus, there are some pretty good animations with the
characters in this game. However, while the water effects look good, the
splashes in the water are pretty weak.

Sound: 6 – The Hans Zimmer score playing in the background is pretty
awesome. Otherwise, with no dialogue, its all pretty basic sound
effects, but they all sound great.

Controls: 5 – The lagginess of Lego Star Wars III isnt as prevalent
here, which is good, but Lego games have always had mushy controls, and
that doesnt change either.

Gameplay: 4 – The platforming and puzzling can be frustrating at
times due to obscure solutions and awkward camera angles. The combat is
fun thanks to some really good animations, and theres always plenty of
stuff to collect. Co-op is nice, online co-op would be better.

Story: 4 – It was hard to follow in the movies, its harder without
dialogue, but the Lego charm often makes it pretty entertaining, even
making some scenes from the movies more fun in the Lego version.

Content: 6 – Some very minor potty humor a few times, but still a solid and fun family game.

Final: 5 – Its hard to resist the charm of the Lego games,
and when you add in the charming Captain Jack, well thats just a
winning formula. However, some of the same old issues continue to plague
these games, and the familiar formula can get tiring rather easily.
Its fun, more so if youre a fan, but its really nothing new.