LEGO Pirates of the CaribbeanESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: 3rd Person: Action, Family Fun
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Players: 1 – 2 players
In-game Dolby Digital
Local Co-op: 2 players
Jack Sparrow and his motley crew of pirates have arrived into the LEGO Universe, not only as amazing LEGO building blocks but into the LEGO video game world as well. Being a huge fan of the LEGO video game franchise I was somewhat excited given that I got a chance to play an early version of the title just a short while ago. So the question remains, will LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean float above the turbulent sea or will it sink the watery depths of a stormy ocean? Batten down the hatches and hop aboard the Black Pearl as we dive into this adventure.
When playing a LEGO game you should never expect high quality next generation graphics that are seen in most games released these days. The unique element of the LEGO games is that most everything in the game is made up from LEGO pieces, and to be fair there is just so much definition one can give to a LEGO block; however, Travellers Tales, the creators of the game, have successfully used these blocks to recreate the world of Pirates of the Caribbean in a very unique way.
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean takes you all over the world, and in one case to the end of world. The game explores the story from all four movies (the fourth is slated for a May 20th, 2011 release) which includes: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End and On Stranger Tides. The animations that portray the movies are really well done, and like all the LEGO games they take on a more humourous approach and convey the story with actions, rather than the spoken word.
The characters have been designed perfectly using the LEGO formula. Every detail a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean could think of has not been forgotten. There are even different variations of each character too. In the first moments of the game you control Jack Sparrow, and doing so it demonstrates how well the developers crafted the characters. In this case it was by replicating the unique and crazy walk that embodies Jack Sparrow, right down to the hand gestures and arm movements. Keeping up with the replication of the movies are the animated cut scenes that flow in and out of the gameplay, expanding on the personalities of the characters and adding to the rich environment already in place, all in LEGO form. Through the great LEGO creations and the cute animated scenes, the game brings you into the world of Pirates of the Caribbean and greatly enhances your gaming experience.
Music plays a huge role in LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, setting the backdrop for the swashbuckling world that Captain Jack Sparrow and his companions venture through. The music from the movies threads itself throughout the whole game with the Pirates theme playing a huge role throughout. Following the familiar LEGO pattern of no voice acting, the narrative is told through expressive tones like grunting, laughter and gasping for air. They have even added in the recognizable telltale scream of Captain Jack Sparrow. There is a downside to this method of storytelling though, if you haven’t watched the movies you may have a hard time figuring out what exactly is going on.
The sound effects are reminiscent of the Pirates of the Caribbean atmosphere that has been created throughout the films. Common to each level is the clinking sound you hear as you collect LEGO studs and the stacking sounds of blocks as your character builds objects and tools out of LEGO blocks that you have discovered. Also included are sounds that compliment the environments, from the unique sounds of the waves crashing against a ship, swords clanking against each other as you duel throughout the seas, to the chattering of monkeys on various tropical islands. The sound effects brought on a chuckle or two during my playtime due to their comedic use, and overall I felt that the whole sound package really brought something extra to the game.
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean follows the movies with its own unique comedic approach to the story which brings a different outlook and creates a much lighter tone for some of the more serious parts of the movies plots. Following the first three movies, and the upcoming fourth one, you will get the finer moments of the story, but you don’t get a perfect re-creation. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; let’s face it, the amount of material they were able to get into this title is quite amazing given it covers four movies, and they would be hard pressed to fit the entire storyline of all four plotlines into it.
The game’s levels have been crafted in a way that you can find where you are going quite easily to complete each level, but when you attempt to game during the Free Play mode you will find many hidden areas throughout the levels. For those of you unfamiliar with previous installments of the LEGO games, Free Play is a mode where you get access to a good portion of the characters, and their abilities, to complete extra tasks that you could not complete in Story Mode. Free Play is unlocked on each level after you complete it during the story mode.
The general objectives of the game are to navigate through the levels while battling enemies, smashing up the environment to find LEGO blocks that you can use to build tools, solve puzzles, and/or defeat a villain at the end of each level.
Gamers who have played LEGO titles before will see that this title has gone back to earlier roots of LEGO game before it as it offers up a straight forward “smash up everything, battle your enemies, solve puzzles” mentality to the game. LEGO Harry Potter and the latest LEGO Star Wars titles deviated from this type of gameplay, which was perfect for those two titles, but with LEGO Pirates it was obviously a great choice to make the gameplay more simplistic. One portion of the game that I felt was a bit lackluster though was the lack of vehicle-based gameplay, with only one level that could be credited with having a vehicle in it. Although we are adventuring on ships, we never do get to pilot our own pirate ship in a battle of epic proportion.
For those who enjoy a great co-op game, you’re in luck here. Every single level is playable with a friend; however it is only local co-op. Sometimes two heads are better than one, and this case two heads is a lot more fun. More than likely you will have quite a few laughs, usually at the expense of your character being put into awkward situations like being punched by your teammate and launched off the side of a ship (in most cases) to their LEGO demise. Online multiplayer, like the majority of all of the LEGO games, does not exist and is an aspect of the game that is sorely missed because LEGO games are something that can bring families and friends together, in person or across the World Wide Web. Here is hoping that Traveler’s Tales will listen to fans across the world and add in some online functionality in their future LEGO endeavors.
There are quite a few extra objectives to achieve while playing through Story Mode and Free Play. You can attain True Pirate status by collecting a whole lot of LEGO studs, or search out and collect 10 Mini-Kit pieces that form a Ship in a Bottle, find Gold Bricks and search for Red Hats. Gold Bricks are used to unlock areas of the Port (main hub) and Red Hats will activate special extras like Fast Dig, Regenerate Hearts, Fall Rescue, and Stud Multiplier to name a few.
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