As I sat down to write this review I found myself wondering if there was really a point reviewing a Lego game.
What you see is what you get with Lego games and any gamer should know exactly what to expect from any game in the series - a healthy dose of platforming , puzzle solving and slash-em-up combined with slick direction and hilarious slapstick comedy. Lego Pirates is no exception and in fact the comedy is spread even thicker due to the Pirates of the Caribbean already being quite comedic in nature.
Despite being humorous, the sometimes scary Pirates series of films isn’t really suited for viewing by younger kids unless they’re thick skinned. Travellers Tales has done a great job of keeping in much of the content of the movies while making it child-friendly to appeal to the whole family. Take note that some of the puzzle elements in the game are more difficult than usual and might frustrate younger gamers.
Lego Pirates takes the player for a romp through locations from all four of the Pirates movies including ‘On Stranger Tides’ but knowing the movies inside and out is by no means essential to getting real enjoyment out of the game. In fact the story is secondary to the action and the only reason to pay attention to the cut-scenes is for the hilarity.
It only takes one level of the Curse of the Black Pearl before the other three movies/areas are unlocked but that kind of generosity isn’t common because even when you’ve played through all four movies, only about half of the game will be complete. That’s because those of you who are ‘100% completionists’ will need to go back and discover areas that were previously not able to be accessed due to requiring a special tool, weapon, character or ability that is only obtainable later in the game.
There are dozens of playable characters and as usual all can be hot-swapped between at any time in single player and drop-in, drop-out two player. Collecting them all can be an addiction in itself. Many are essentially clones with no special abilities but some come in very handy. Having so many allies proves to be one of the game’s downfalls though - on several occasions I had characters racing towards an objective (and even pushing me out of the way) when all I wanted to do was look around and collect what needed to be collected before moving on.
The AI should definitely have been dialled down so that important scripted moments get initiated when the player is ready, with NPC’s taking their cue from the player’s actions.
The annoyances from previous Lego titles have carried over into Lego Pirates with characters getting stuck on objects (I’m beginning to think it’s because of the blocky nature of the characters and surroundings) and the all too familiar running around in circles with no idea what to do or where to go next. The awkward jumping mechanic is once again present and there is the usual trial and error needed for the game’s platform elements. I’m presuming that because these ‘issues’ have never been fixed that the developers see this quirkiness as part of the game’s appeal – and there's some merit in that. We probably wouldn’t want out blocky little Lego characters having precise, smooth movement and pinpoint accuracy.
Having said that, the Lego version of Captain Jack Sparrow moves remarkably like his celluloid counterpart and Traveller’s Tales have done an amazing job of bringing Johnny Depp’s interpretation and the character’s nuances into a Lego character that doesn’t mutter a single recognisable word in the whole game.
When it comes down to it, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the best in the series. The graphics are great and the subject matter lends itself perfectly to the stylistic slapstick of Lego games.