Sunday, 3 February 2013

Review: LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean (PS3)

After playing through LEGO Lord of the rings I was dreading another romp through a LEGO title on PS3.  Lord of the rings was probably the worst LEGO title made by TT games to date and although it was playable, it just wasn't as much fun as their previous games.

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is an older title that was launched to coincide with the release of On stranger Tides.  I originally skipped this game because the idea of playing LEGO Pirates wasn't really that appealing.  That was a mistake because LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is immense fun.

Environments keep pretty close to the film locations
Like all LEGO games based on film properties, the levels loosely follow the plot of each film with levels built around specific events.  Obviously the events are satirised the entire time and unlike the more recent LEGO titles the dialogue consists of grunts, laughs and the odd soundbite taken from the film.  The events are also more child friendly so any deaths of characters or other painful experiences are reduced to little plastic men being pulled into two pieces.

Gameplay is the classic smash and grab fun of the Star Wars games where pretty much anything made of LEGO pieces within a level can be smashed for studs which are required to buy new characters, red hats (cheats) and for trophies.  Different characters have unique abilities to help players progress through the levels, so Jack Sparrow has his compass which leads him to items hidden throughout each level.  Will turner can throw axes to hit targets, Elizabeth Swan can double jump to reach high ledges and levers.  Puzzles are still a big part of the gameplay as is the discovery of hidden items and secret areas.

Combat is still relatively simple with players being required to rapidly tap the attacks button to finish off most opponents.  The game does have numerous kill animations and most characters have some unique attack animations.  It's a minor thing as combat is usually tertiary to LEGO games, but it's nice to see the odd bit of swashbuckling swordplay added to the game.

Many levels involve ship to ship combat
This game compared to Lord of the rings is actually quite refreshing when it comes to character usage.  Where Lord of the rings consistently required you to use Sam Gamgee or Legolas, Pirates at least has uses for many different characters.  The game does suffer from the multiple character issues of previous games, where you will end up 4 Jack Sparrows, 5 Elizabeth Swan's and oddly only 1 Will Turner.  I never really understood the need for multiple versions of a character since they do the exact same thing as the original version you unlock.

When you have finished all of the story levels you can then replay them with all unlocked characters which is a must if you intend to 100% the game, as many areas of each level are only accessible with characters from other levels.  It's usually during the free play sections that the game truly opens up with the more entertaining sections as the developers are allowed to create their own little areas of fun.
Jack Sparrow has several pointless variations

The port acts as your hub zone here, similar to Star wars and Indiana Jones, which acts as your main area for buying characters and using your collected gold bricks.  Gold Bricks here unlock new areas of the port and also reveal red hats which replace red bricks from other LEGO games.  Red hats unlock cheats from the usual list of stud multipliers, invincibility and fall rescue.

I would say though that this game certainly felt a lot shorter than previous games I have played with each movie consisting of five levels each.  Completing the entire story would only take a few hours at most with replays being even quicker when you have all of the characters to use.  Other problems I encountered were the odd situation with characters becoming trapped in parts of the map forcing me to reload the level from scratch.

Graphically the game makes no improvements over it's peers, although this isn't a negative toward the game.  The characters still maintain the charm of little living LEGO plastic, while the environments are still a nice detailed mix of painted backgrounds and LEGO furniture to smash to bits.

Will turner has only a single character model for some reason
The soundtrack is that of the films which is a nice addition but can become exceedingly repetitive and can become stuck in your head for weeks.  As mentioned earlier the characters don't really speak, using simplistic sounds which work better for LEGO games overall.

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean put me in mind of the original LEGO games which were fun to play from start to finish.  Since this is cheap these days you should definitely pick it up if you see it, you won't regret it.

SCORE: 8.0/10


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