If you can believe it, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is the eighth LEGO game released this generation. This is, of course, not counting LEGO Rock Band as one of the stable. Needless to say, this franchise is huge and it seems each year we are adding a new face to the crowd (rumors of LEGO Mortal Kombat have begun floating). Having said that, you may be wondering if LEGO Pirates is worth your time and effort if you have already been down this road three times this year. Well, if you are a fan of the movies, are not tired of LEGO games, and don’t mind the lack of online; LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean continues the series trend of solid, albeit predictable, experiences.
As you can imagine, there is a new movie on the horizon, which would explain the release window. Disney tried to go the classic licensed action game route last time with poor results. Thankfully, this time they turned to Traveller’s Tales who, if nothing else, can make one heck of a LEGO game. LEGO Pirates includes all four movies broken down into sections, much like other games in the series. There is a boatload of characters to unlock, including multiple versions of everyone’s favorite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow.
Much like any other LEGO game, all of the events of each movie unfold through lighthearted cut scenes that feature absolutely no dialogue. TT has become the master of creating character expression without using words, and Pirates is no different. All of your favorite scenes are here, and fans of the series are in for a treat as you progress through the main game. One thing that can always be said about the LEGO games is their careful attention to the source material. If you enjoy the subject matter, you will undoubtedly love what the developers have tossed into the game.
If you have played a LEGO game before, then you pretty much know what to expect here. The biggest gripe is that with LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, TT actually started taking steps to move the franchise forward with RTS elements and large vehicle segments. Pirates feels like it was created without those ideas in place as they are completely omitted from the formula. Another glaring oversight is the lack of online support. Playing co-op is one of the best things about the LEGO games and Pirates is once again only local. We know it can and has been done in previous games, so why they keep removing it for specific entries is beyond me.
As for the rest of the formula, things are par for the course here. You have an insane amount of things to collect and unlock. You could literally spend months trying to find every hidden item, stud and unlocking the monstrous cast of characters. This is also the game’s Achilles heel. If you are tired of the LEGO design, this game is going to do nothing for you. Everything feels like it always has, and if you have had your fill already, there just isn’t enough to draw you back in.
The LEGO games have always been gauged on their theme as opposed to their gameplay. In that aspect, TT has done an amazing job of capturing the look and feel of the series. The levels are expansive and full of detail. Character animations are outstanding, adding to the individual expression for each character. The music is a standout as it contains tracks from the movies composed by Hans Zimmer. His work is some of the best in the industry and you will undoubtedly be immersed in the world thanks to the soundtrack. Sound effects are standard fare for these games, meaning they are used sparingly. The overall package is nice and well put together, just don’t expect it to blow you away on any front.
I wish I had more to say about LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, but in all honesty the game is what it is. If you enjoy the LEGO series, you will be satisfied with this latest effort. It doesn’t tread any new ground, but it is also so well put together that you would be hard-pressed to criticize it. If you love the subject matter, it will easily up the enjoyment level ten-fold thanks to Travelers Tales’ attention to detail and fan service. The lack of online and the feeling of taking a few steps back from the last effort are the only real deterrents to this overall solid experience.
Review copy provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.