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LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game Review

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On 07/05/2011 at 07:15 PM by Bradley Osburn

Traveller's Tales delivers a great LEGO experience featuring everyone's favorite rum-swilling captain.

For anyone who likes a fun, lighthearted game.

I grew up on LEGOs, making submarines and castles, creating stories out of blocks. This is my first experience with a LEGO game, and though it’s not the same, I still had an incredible amount of fun.

I wasn’t prepared for the fact that LEGO games apparently feature no dialogue. Characters communicate through grunts, exclamations and body language. This was never a problem and actually helped make the characters more charming. I didn’t have to endure any of the film’s often-whiny dialogue and was instead treated to slapstick humor. Traveller’s Tales captured Jack Sparrow perfectly, as his character model flails in a way that would be impossible for real LEGO models, and his guttural utterings sound just like Johnny Depp.

The game’s story follows the four movies, taking liberties where needed and compressing them into a campaign that will take anyone experienced with videogames around eight to ten hours to complete. The story doesn’t have to be completed in order and features a free play mode for the purpose of exploration.

Important story points are told through elaborate storyboard-style cutscenes. While delightful to look at, plot nuance is sacrificed for the sake of keeping the game moving. In a world as convoluted as the one in which the Pirates movies take place, this is sort of a problem, and it helps to be familiar with the movies. Though, you could argue that Traveller’s Tales just stuck to the most important plot points.

Players control a party of characters throughout the game, each one featuring a crucial ability to either further the plot or unlock hidden extras. Female characters can jump twice, characters with hammers can smack glowing red objects into workable objects and those wielding guns can blast silver obstacles into pieces, opening up new paths. The most unique and useful ability is that of Capt. Jack. His magic compass points out hidden objects, some crucial to getting through the stage.

All of the most important characters are here. Capt. Jack, Will Turner, Elizabeth, Gibbs and the others make their obligatory appearances. Players can even take control of the story’s villains, like Davy Jones or Capt. Barbossa. Only a handful of characters feel useful though as many are just clones of the primaries.

Gameplay is a lot of fun. The levels are varied and large enough to make every stage feel unique. Each one is packed with extra content for the completionists out there to go back and comb through. In each stage the player guides the party through, solving puzzles, defeating other LEGO folks and destroying everything in sight for those sweet LEGO bits that act as the game’s currency.

Not all is well in the LEGO world though, as the game does have its fair share of problems. The aforementioned puzzles are incredibly simple, especially since the game unashamedly points out everything you need to do with big glowing bits and arrows. Navigation is never a challenge, and those looking for a more hardcore experience might be disappointed that you can’t even properly die, as your character just reappears in a shower of lost coin-bits. But then, anyone looking for a more difficult experience is probably playing the wrong game in the first place.

The controls are a little weird as well, always feeling loose, and the ability to jump, while useful, is often times difficult to perform correctly because of a semi-fixed camera and a jumping mechanic that is spotty at best.

There is no online component to LEGO Pirates at all, which is just strange considering that the game features a two-player, split-screen co-op mode. It just seems like a wasted potential to not have an online co-op mode for a game like this.

But these small problems didn’t stop me from having fun. And I had a lot of fun. If you’re looking for a lighthearted, enjoyable, clean experience, then this is a great game to have. I feel like sometimes as gamers we’re too inundated with violent, ultra-challenging and vulgar material to remember that what we’re playing is supposed to be enjoyable. It’s supposed to be a game. There is room in the market for the massive, hardcore stuff, but every once in a while it really helps to step back, pop in a game about anthropomorphic LEGOs, and just lose yourself in the silliness for a few hours.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



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