What is the one thing that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with its large catalog of movies, soundtracks, toys, books, action figures, several games based on the movies and even a Disney ride have yet to offer to fans? A LEGO game based off of the characters, and their various misadventures! Published by Disney Interactive Studios, and developed by Traveller’s Tales at long last your dream of sailing the seven seas as Jack Sparrow and friends can finally be fulfilled in all the wacky ways only a LEGO game can offer.
The first thing you will notice when you boot up the game is that the charm, and silent slapstick comedy used to tell the story through short cinematics found in all of the previous Lego games, is present and accounted for. The next thing you will notice is that you will be playing through this adventure on your own, as has rarely been the case before no multi-player option is available. Many would argue that this is one of the main factors that appeal to players, as the co-op has always offered friends the ability to work together, or to hinder one another’s progress. A feature which also allows parents to play alongside their children to help them through the tougher aspects of the game is for whatever reason nowhere to be found in this game.
Starting out, you will play as the young apprentice blacksmith Will Turner. This area serves as the games tutorial, teaching players how to move characters, attack and destroy lego blocks to collect various lego studs used in currency in the Lego world, solve puzzles, and switch characters to use their various abilities. Oftentimes destroying one object allows you to build another from the same pieces. These include switches to open doors, lower rope ladders, and raise or lower platforms. You will also play as a dog to access areas to small for the human lego characters to enter, and the blacksmith Will trains under to utilize glowing blue blocks only blacksmiths can interact with. You will know the tutorial is complete when Jack Sparrow comes drunkenly charging in and attacks you without giving notice like only a pirate can.
This is where the game starts to show promise, using context sensitive commands to make your character dodge and parry sword strikes until you have a chance to counterattack. This is one of the only new features the game doesn’t borrow from previous LEGO games, and is an interesting way to show a duel between opponents. Or at least it is the first time you experience it. You will soon find however that every duel plays out almost exactly the same way, and what was once an interesting concept soon becomes quite tedious overtime.
After you complete the tutorial level the pacing changes dramatically. Every level from this point on will throw you into a random scenario that takes place in the PotC movie franchise and sometimes not even in the correct order. Players are sent to a port town which acts as the games hub branching the different menus and options available in the game in their respective sections. To the left are the tailor shop where you can create your own lego character to play as, and the souvenir shop where you can view various LEGO models, once you have found the required number of ship bottles. To the right you will find the tavern where the vast majority of the game’s unlockable characters, extras, and hints are available for purchase. As well as where you can view any of the cinematics related to the levels you have completed. Advance straight ahead to the end of the dock to continue your game.
Levels are split into sections for their own respective movies featuring 16 in all, 4 from each of the Pirates films including the original three, and the latest film On Stranger Tides. All levels must be revisited countless times as different characters to collect all of the hidden Red Bricks used for unlockables, ship in a bottle models, and all the gold coins. Different players have different abilities as well, for example Jack Sparrow wields a gun, Will Turner can climb walls with his two swords, Elizabeth Swann can use a grappling hook to access out of reach area’s, and Tia Dalma can use her mystic powers to unveil or change the form of hidden objects to name just a few.
The game’s music fits in with the same feeling a Pirates of the Caribbean film offers, and is one of its strongest qualities. The graphics are some of the best in the series to date (for the handheld) with various lighting effects, rippling waves, and burning torches littering the stages. There is plenty to be found here as replayablility has always been a big part of the LEGO experience. However the game isn’t without its faults as the camera doesn’t always show where you really need to go to complete an objective, enemies will sometimes come chasing after to you only to suddenly with no visible object in place that would bar their movement run in place and swing their sword in the air a good 10 ft away from you as if they are attacking you. The whole experience plays out as an epic tale of been there, done that as the vast majority of the environments, effects, and mechanics, are carbon copy versions of the last more then eight Lego games before it. As the previous game in the series added quite a few new tricks to the formula, this one which lacks any major improvements and a multiplayer mode, feels like a step in the wrong direction. If you love the LEGO games and the Pirates franchise then this game is worth giving a try, but if you are looking for something new you might want to try elsewhere.
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean (PSP Version)