It seems as though Lego games are ever growing in popularity. With their iconic humour, addictive gameplay and reminiscent charm it’s easy to see why. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean takes you on a voyage of discovery through familiar worlds and iconic locations, as you control the various characters that made the films so lovable.
The game spans all four movies across twenty levels, including the most recent in the series, ‘On Stranger Tides’. You are taken through all the major plot points, meeting familiar faces and experiencing reimagined block-built lands. The story is retold using comical cutscenes. They offer laugh-out-loud moments for fans of the series, though if you have never seen the films, don’t expect to understand the story.
The main aim in the levels is to solve puzzles, collect items and defeat enemies so you can progress to the next area. The puzzles range from rebuilding objects, to finding items, and rescuing friends. This is done with the help of over 70 characters, each with different skills and abilities. The most common of all is of course Jack Sparrow, who comes equipped with a compass, used to find hidden items and collectables in each level. Another major character is Will Turner who has the ability to throw axes and hit targets or enemies in hard-to-reach places. Female characters such as Elizabeth Swann are able to double jump, and reach areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Other characters have the ability to fix broken machines, dig up hidden items, pull large objects and open special doors and locks. There are also a wide variety of weapons between characters, including swords, guns, bombs and whips. You can even pick up tridents which can be located around various levels.
Pretty much everything in the environment is destructible, and exploration is highly encouraged. As expected, there is a large amount of collectables to discover and purchase using the studs you gain. These can be collected during the story, but a lot of the hidden secrets require players to return to a level in free-play. Players can also ride a number of animals, including pigs, horses and crabs, which can interact with environmental objects as well. Level design is very clever, and ranges from very linear ships, to free-roam towns. Even when you think you have discovered everywhere in a level, the chances are you haven’t. There a tonnes of hidden nooks and crannies, each hiding collectables. A completionist will have many hours of fun discovering them all.
The game features drop in and out local co-op play, and it can be very entertaining to explore with a friend. Though there is no difference in the levels themselves, it can quicken up collectable and stud gathering. It’s a shame that online co-op, which has been seen in other Lego titles, is not supported.
The game graphics are an improvement from past Lego instalments. Characters and objects look sharp, and the world is vibrant and colourful. The level of detail in the non-Lego materials is stunning. The rainforest, seabed, cavern and beach environments wouldn’t look out of place in a non-Lego game. There are some really great animations too, especially in the fight sequences. The music is taken straight from the movies, and who can argue with that? There are some great tracks which complement the environments perfectly.
Though Lego Pirates provides a very entertaining experience, there are a few flaws that can be incredibly frustrating at times. Firstly, there is an excessive amount of bugs. On at least three occasions I had to restart a level (and one time my Xbox) because a character did not spawn, or an NPC got stuck in the environment. The AI isn’t the smartest either. Sometimes I found that my character would be pushed off a ledge, or blocked from passing by NPC’s. These issues are not huge, just annoying.
On top of this, you may find that some of the puzzles are incredibly frustrating and the solutions very obscure. I often found myself scouting the same area in a level for upwards of twenty minutes just to find one item so I could continue. There is very little direction, and where there is, it is usually in obvious places where you don’t need it anyway. Some people may like that challenge, but I’m sure many won’t. It would have been nice to see a hint function built into the game to aid struggling players.
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean will be enjoyed by fans of the Lego series. It adds a new setting to the series, but still manages to keep the Lego charm that so many people love. The gameplay is fun to play solo or co-operatively, and collectables will keep you playing for hours.
Fun, addictive gameplay filled with collectables to keep you occupied for hours. Some minor bugs and frustrating puzzles though.
The world and environments look beautiful, and are an improvement for the series.
The music is taken straight from the movie and is as great as ever!