LEGO Pirates of the Carribean
If there's one thing you can depend on in gaming, it's the LEGO series, and
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean doesn't stray too far from its brothers. The
game of the films blends charming (if simplistic) swordplay, puzzling and
platforming action, alongside a daffy retelling of Disney's swashbuckling
This most recent addition to the ever-expanding LEGO library packs all four
of the Pirates of the Caribbean films into one cartridge - so that's The
Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man's Chest, At World's End, and On
Stranger Tides. The thing I don't get is how Blackbeard and What's-
Her-Face from the most recent movie got on to the front cover. They
were in only one movie, and it happened to be the most remarkably
mediocre. Ugh, but I digress. Each game has been squashed into four
chapters, which gives you 16 levels and around 8 hours of initial playtime
in total. You'll hop across familiar locations from the movies - from the
decks of the Black Pearl to pirate strongholds and desert island retreats -
and with each level bookeneded by daft cutscenes that shunt the story
ever onward in glorious pre-rendered 3D.
Turnout for the first pirate step aerobics class was a little disappointing.
Just as in every other LEGO game, you're presented with a huge roster of
both familiar and not-so familiar characters. As you'd expect, this time
they're all from the Pirates movies, each with their own unique abilities.
The challenge is to find the right man, woman, or barnacled bilge rat for
the job, switching between characters to overcome the challenges ahead.
This is pretty much the only time you'll use the touchscreen, though, and
I much preferred using the L and R buttons to swap characters instead.
This time around, developer Traveller's Tales has managed to pack a huge
variety of obstacles in every level. As always, you'll build LEGO blocks into
useful objects, but now suitably equipped characters can fire cannons,
grapple over chasms, blast out-of-reach targets, potter around on the sea
bed, mind-control monkeys, squelch through living coral to teleport around
the place, and more. There's even a suitably swashbuckling mini-game, in
which you mash buttons to match on-screen prompts. This is quite a
generous offering, too.
Alongside the main story mode, there's ample opportunity to revisit areas
in Free Play once you've unlocked new characters in the course of your
travels. You'll need your newfound abilities to overcome previously
insurmountable obstacles if you want to get your hands on the huge
number of items that are tucked away in the game - these grand access
to new weapons, characters and clothing, meaning it's the perfect way to
revel in total kleptomaniac excess.
You can earn even ore goodies via LEGO Pirate's StreetPass capabilities,
which is similar to Super Street Fighter IV's passive battle system. Here,
you pick a character, set a range of Rock-Paper-Scissors-style moves
over three rounds, and your handheld will then duke it out with other
In truth, you'll only need a tiny bit of brain-power and a smidgen of brute
force to see you through the game but, while it's not particularly
challenging for seasoned gamers, it's definitely likeable.
Every LEGO character is packed with personality - Captain Jack Sparrow's
drunken swagger and Davy Jones' fishy beard are all present and correct -
and the whole thing looks and sounds like a treat. Every level is brought to
life with suitably comic sound effects and a full orchestral score ripped
straight from the movies.
Visually too, the Nintendo 3DS' meaty innards give the while thing a
beautiful sheen, mixing the gorgeously lifelike piratey locales with a
smattering of LEGO bits and pieces. This game uses a subtle 3D effect,
rather than the "HEY LOOK AT ME, I'M IN 3D! NOTICE ME! NOTICE ME!"
effect that some other 3DS games have. It's a nice change of pace that
really brings you into the action without making the visuals a main feature.
Really, the main downside is the lack of online play, which has worked so
well on home console LEGO games. Without this, the simplicity of the
series' basic components becomes all too apparent as you progress. Sure,
it's fun, but it's also a fairly shallow experience if you don't have a couple
of mates over, and is unlikely to hold the interest of more discerning
gamers like myself.
If you love the Pirates movies, there's probably a bit of extra mileage in
this loveable LEGO retelling, but truthfully, its familiar brand of solid family-
friendly entertainment is better suited to the younger crowd. LEGO Pirates
of the Caribbean does Cap'n Jack and the rest of the crew proud (because
at least it was better than the fantastically average latest movie) but
anyone seeking a more substantial experience is likely to be left a little