Games Review: Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

Available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii

YO ho ho Lego! The brick-building games franchise has already conquered the worlds of Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman and Indiana Jones, and now it’s the turn of the Disney pirates movies, including the forthcoming release On Stranger Tides.

Mixing up basic combat and platform adventuring with some pretty simple puzzles seemed to work remarkably well in previous releases, so there’s been no attempt to change it here.

Taking the usual tongue-in-cheek, dialogue-free approach to the Pirates of the Caribbean films, you can choose to play by yourself or in the more appealing co-op mode, working your way through each of the four movies as Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, Elizabeth Swan or one of the other series characters.

Developers Travellers’ Tales have done an excellent job capturing the mannerisms and personality of Cap’n Jack, and as expected, you punch, shoot or slash your foes, build and operate various bits of equipment, dig up hidden treasure and gather up hoards of bricks while jumping between platforms and avoiding those fatal drops into unforgiving chasms.

It’s never really that challenging, and you can usually complete even the most complicated tasks after a few attempts, but then the Lego releases have always been aimed at a wide audience rather than your more advanced gamers.

Some of the more enjoyable sequences are when you get the opportunity to roll around in giant balls or the runaway wheel from the second film, and there is lots of unlockable content to be found, including a siren whose voice can break glass and Blackbeard’s sword.

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If there is one criticism it’s that unlike the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, which have years of repeat viewings to their credit, most people won’t have seen the Pirates flicks over and over again, so you could be left somewhat confused when it comes to working out exactly what’s supposed to be happening at each step of the way. A refresher viewing of the first three films on DVD is therefore advisable to get the most out of every little detail put into the game.

After the straightforward events of the first movie, even the filmmakers themselves accept that the sequels were overcomplicated and a challenge to follow, so attempting to portray these events using animated bricks was always going to be a struggle. But instead of sticking rigidly to the cinematic narrative, the developers have wisely concentrated on gameplay, focusing on humour and eccentricity and adding in some new touches which you won’t see on the DVDs.

Ultimately if you’re looking for more of the same from the Lego game series then you won’t be disappointed, as the developers have enhanced and improved upon previous releases to ensure their latest effort really is the finest to date. Fans of the Pirates movies will also not be disappointed, as this offers the best video game adaptation of the franchise you’re ever likely to see.

But newbies can also be sure of picking up a first-rate gaming experience which offers a refreshing alternative to the brutal violence of most releases, and is sure to put a smile on your face no matter your age. Highly recommended.

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