By now, most people are probably familiar with the LEGO franchise of video games. While they have branched off with games like LEGO Battles, most titles are parodies of widely popular adventure movie series (i.e. Star Wars, Indiana Jones). That is exactly what happens in LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game. This action adventure game brings to life all four of the Pirates movies, including the newest film, “On Stranger Tides,” in LEGO brick form. Battle through the major action scenes with all the characters you love showing up in humorous and quirky LEGO video game style.
Does this LEGO movie-game have what it takes, or does it belong in Davy Jones’ Locker?
Story & Plot
As stated before, LEGO Pirates walks through the four Pirates of the Caribbean movies, each in sequencial format. However, after you complete the first chapter of The Curse of the Black Pearl, the game gives you the option of moving on to another film if you want. Each of the four chapters from each movie has the same layout. You start by watching a LEGO-made cut scene, battle or solve some puzzles, watch another cut scene, battle or solve some puzzles, and so on until that chapter is complete. As for the stories, I cannot complain, as they follow the movies’ storyline, which are quite good. However, it is important to know that you might be a bit confused as to what is going on if you have not seen a particular movie. I witnessed this for myself when playing through On Stranger Tides.
If you have never played a LEGO movie-game before, there is something you need to know. You cannot die. Instead, you just fall apart and come back right where you left off. The purpose behind this all started with the first LEGO Star Wars, as it was made primarily for children. They have kept that same strategy today. This does not hinder the story or plot. Instead, it actually helps it. Because you do not have to worry about dying, you can feel free to explore and complete all the missions. In turn, you will feel more connected to the entire plot-line.
Gameplay & Controls
As you progress through each chapter of Pirates’ history, you will face similar situations as they did in the movies. However, each movie has only four playable chapters. While this is not a big drawback, it did seem quite short overall, as I completed all of the main story in around five and a half hours.
LEGO Pirates is not necessarily just about completing each level, though, as even when I finished all of the chapters, I still had only completed 40% of the game. The other component of this game is exploration and collecting. As you progress through each chapter, you will search out and collect pirate coins, red bricks, and glass bottles. Each will unlock specific extras when you collect them all. So, after you complete a level, you can re-enter in “freeplay” mode to simply explore and collect.
The Nintendo 3DS version uses every button available. You will control your character’s movement with either the analog Circle Pad or the Control Pad. You can cycle through the characters in your team via the L/R shoulder buttons or by simply tapping their face on the touch screen. Jump with the B button, attack with sword using the Y button, attack with a distance weapon using the X button, and perform special actions using the A button (including building with LEGO bricks). The controls are very intuitive, and it does not take long to catch on. The only complaint I have is that you must be directly on a specific spot in order for some special actions to happen. Even if you are slightly off, you will not be able to build or crank open a door, for instance. This is not a deal-breaker, but it can be a bit frustrating at times.
There is the ability to do “drop-in/drop-out” two-player cooperative in the game, but due to obvious constraints with a pre-release review copy, I was not able to try it out.
Visuals & Sound
Let me start with the 3D and say this. Do not expect a visually stunning presentation that can only happen in 3D. That does not mean LEGO Pirates looks horrible, but the game was not necessarily made to only play on a Nintendo 3DS. With that being said, I was still shocked by how good it looked. In fact, I barely played the game in 2D, as the added depth made each level rich in color and shadow. While it did have a few “jaggies” and awkward 3D moments, the overall visuals were great, and the 3D helped bring me into the game more than ever.
As far as the sound goes, the score is the same from the movies, which is written by Klaus Badelt, Hans Zimmer, and Rodrigo y Gabriela. That should be enough for me to say, honestly, because the game sounds exactly like the movies. While you are not going to get an incredible 7.1 surround sound feel from the Nintendo 3DS, you will get fantastic music that sounds like it did in the movie. The sound effects are what you would expect from past LEGO movie-games. There are grunts and screams from the LEGO characters, as they never speak, and there are the clanging swords and other sounds you would assume to hear. Nothing felt out of place, and it all contributed to the continuity of this LEGO-style walk through the Pirates movies.
SCORE: 4 out of 5
If you are a fan of Pirates and LEGO, this is a no-brainer purchase. While the overall design is for younger children, older teens and adults will also get into the humor and the ability to fight through their favorite movies. Sure it has a few flaws, but the overall experience is strong. On top of that, the Nintendo 3DS version packs great visuals, sound, and fun on the go.