The LEGO series of games has stretched across so many different intellectual properties now that it is actually becoming difficult to recall exactly what has and hasn’t been transformed into LEGO blocks. Batman, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and Star Wars are definitely the key ones, and by far the biggest sellers. However, new kid on the block, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game, is hoping to ride the hype train as Disney releases the fourth movie, and first in the new trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, to become the next smash hit for UK developer TT Games.
Fans of the movie trilogy and those looking forward to watching the new release, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, will be right at home with LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game since it takes some of the most memorable scenes from all four movies and recreates them in LEGO format, with some wacky cut-scene clips that have more than a smidgen of creative licence to increase the humour levels. Those not familiar with the legendary Pirate Captain, Jack Sparrow, and his zany shenanigans will be entirely lost, however, as nothing is fully explained either by text descriptions or voiced scenes. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game is unashamedly aimed squarely at fans of the big screen pictures, making no bones about the lack of additional explanation. It is definitely a case of ‘like it, or lump it’.
Jumping straight into the action has its benefits, as with its primary purpose being to appeal to the masses that revere the films it means the ‘wider audience’ is able to start having fun almost immediately without being bogged down by what may seem like the unnecessary clutter of scripting and lengthy tutorials. Instead it is a case of watching several amusing video clips of the movie cast in LEGO form acting out famous moments in a slightly different manner than many will remember from the cinema, yet the amendments made by the development staff are perfectly within the same comical realm of Johnny Depp and company’s off the wall antics and will be fully appreciated.
As the game properly commences, what starts off as a run-of-the-mill adventure, with lots of repetition in terms of progression (build switch, flick switch, find buried object, open cage to release new character, rinse and repeat), eventually begins to unfold into a thoroughly entertaining piece of software, with more than its fair share of variety throughout. Most of the early missions involve players switching between the handful of characters on offer, using each one’s specific ability to make advancement through the episodes that are tied to one of the entries into the theme-park-ride-turned-movie franchise.
For every piece of interesting gameplay, such as rolling through an entire stage trapped in a spherical cage á la Monkey Ball, there are several other tried-and-tested processes that start off as great fun, yet sadly grow tiresome deeper into the main quest. A key example is the duelling aspect, which merely requires lots of tapping the ‘B’ button, followed by the correct inputting of key presses from on-screen prompts in order to knock a heart from the current combatant. Whilst engaging the first few times, after countless battles of this sort it becomes a real chore. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game ultimately turns out to be quite the mixed bag, with so much going for it, yet equally far too much holding it back from being special.
Visually the game is truly stunning, though. Just as with LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, TT Games has managed to squeeze not only the same level of in-games graphics as the Wii edition into the mighty Nintendo 3DS, but also all of the cut-scenes with what appears to be no loss in quality at all. The British developer has shown twice now that it has the ability to push the new hardware considerably more than several other Third Parties could with their ‘launch window’ efforts. As with Rabbids 3D, the actual depth effect is extremely subtle at times, yet there are moments that leave your eyes amazed, especially when levels involve having to go deeper into the screen to progress. Multi-layered level structure always looks impressive on the whole, yet with the 3D Slider turned up to the maximum, the optical illusion is augmented significantly. It is sad to say then that the soundtrack lets the presentation of the game down on the whole. Despite featuring several key pieces of rousing music from the films, the segments of soundtrack are too short and looped frequently to the point of frustration kicking in and the volume being turned down.
Some clever ideas and extremely solid adventuring is present, with great use of character-switching for progression through stages. However, repetition of tasks drags the fun factor down eventually.
Simply stunning visuals and really goes to show how powerful the Nintendo 3DS is, with the graphics definitely on a par with the Wii edition and the added subtle 3D effects help to improve the experience as well.
Whilst the rousing tunes from the movie franchise return in great fashion, sadly they come in short bursts and are repeated so often that everything wears extremely thin over time.
On top of the hearty main story, there are plenty of extras to collect during the swashbuckling journey, yet due to the limitations of the gameplay, making the effort to grab everything after the final credits will certainly be a struggle for most.
Whilst LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game has some fantastic ideas included that help make it appeal to all audiences, at the same time there is far too much retreading of old ground during the adventure and the overall challenge is considerably lacking, thus relegating this to a ‘rent first’ type of game.
It's definitely a fun game, but I found the whole experience a little underwhelming in the end. But hey, it's LEGO, so will sell no matter what!
Anyone seen the new Pirates movie?