LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean Review

By on May 26, 2011

A Lego game built out of frustration.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

I have two confessions to make here – I had to get my sister to play this latest Lego game, simply because I love that psychotic glint in her eyes as she runs around smashing things in the level. The latest installment in the series from Traveller’s Tales is Lego: Pirates of the Caribbean. If you ever wanted to see Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom as pint-size Lego creations, well then this is your chance.

For those unfamiliar with the Lego franchise of games, Traveller’s Tales takes a well known movie series or franchise, and build the entire thing from Lego bricks. Rather than worry about things like dialogue, the various scenes are acted out with plenty of hilarious cues and changes. It’s a formula that has worked well for most of its games across various platforms, and continues to shine in this latest installment. But despite employing a tried and tested formula, Pirates does have some very frustrating elements that drag it down considerably.

While there is immense satisfaction in destroying items in the environment and then being showered with collectable Lego studs, there are many instances where the falling studs simply fall into inaccessible areas or float off-screen. For someone as stud-obsessed as my sister, this led to constant swearing and the launch of one controller across the room. The game also traditionally gives you control of about a maximum of four different characters during a mission, but in Pirates you’re sometimes tasked with cycling through up to eight – and this is just in the Story mode. With characters running around everywhere it’s often hard to navigate the tricky parts of the levels, as the AI-controller characters are usually more than happy to get in the way of whatever you’re trying to do. Speaking of the AI, it seems almost nonexistent in this version. You will probably be left standing around waiting for an AI character to flip a switch or to come help you push something. It’s easier to just get a friend to jump in with the second controller and help you on your way. You will also frequently find that it’s very easy to misjudge jumps, so falling to your doom at regular intervals should be of no surprise.

Another irritating thing has to do with the character of Jack Sparrow. He comes equipped with a compass, which you can use to uncover hidden objectives in each level – some objectives are mandatory, while others will unlock minikit pieces or bonus studs. Once you’ve selected an objective from the compass, a blue trail will lead you to where you have to go, while at the same time reducing Jack’s walking speed to that of a 97 year old. Once you’ve plodded over to where you need to go, a few studs will erupt from the ground and you’ll be pointed in a new direction – it literally plays out like a treasure hunt for senior citizens. The camera also has a very annoying habit of not panning around properly at certain areas, so your character disappears off screen quite often. There are also no clear indicators for some of your missions, so you’re left running around the level trying your best to figure out what you’re supposed to do in order to progress. In one level for example, it took me twenty minutes to figure out that I had to swing on a chain to move to the next cutscene.

The one thing that the game does have going for it is the visuals – this is easily the most impressive Lego game I’ve seen to date, with plenty of detail and special effects in all directions – even the loading screen between missions is represented by cute 2-D reenactments. The audio is also great, with plenty of swashbuckling tracks that try to keep you motivated through the game.

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean still has plenty of charm with it, but its somewhat glaring flaws make it a frustrating experience. Fans may be able to look over these and appreciate the underlying fun factor, but if you’re new to the franchise then I would easily recommend some of the other Lego games over this one.

The Scorecard
While the charm of Lego still exists, it’s overshadowed by the numerous flaws and mystifying objectives.
Easily one of the best looking Lego games to date.
Great soundtracks and sound affects that tie in well with the game’s theme.
Jack’s objectives and hidden minikits offer plenty of replay value in Free Play mode.
The game is supposed to be fun, but it’s hindered by the blundering AI.
A Lego game that would have been a great addition to the franchise, but falls short in many areas.


A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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