|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, 3DS, PSP, DS|
|Dev: Traveller's Tales|
|Pub: Disney Interactive Studios|
|Release: May 10, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Comic Mischief, Cartoon Violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Pirates of the Caribbean has a pretty good history with me. I've always loved the Disney park ride, the movies inspired me throughout my high school and college years, and I am dying with anticipation for the fourth entry in the movie series to premiere later this month. However, when I heard that the series was going to be getting the LEGO-ization treatment, I couldn't help but be a little nervous. It's not that I don't love LEGO games, but the series as a whole seems to have been lagging in quality lately. The formula is getting a bit old, and the charm of even the stalwart LEGO Star Wars series is wearing thin. However, leave it to a bunch of bloody pirates to make the series feel fresh and new again. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean isn't a perfect game, but it's certainly a return to the excellent form of the original games in the LEGO series.
Like all LEGO games, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean tells you a truncated version of the story in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. If you have never seen the movies, you probably won't understand much of the game's plotline. But these games are pretty much made for franchise fans, so you can't fault them too much for hitting the highlights and going straight for the laughs.
And laughs are something the game definitely doesn't skimp on. Triggered cutscenes are extremely frequent, but I never found myself bored or annoyed with them. The humor is extremely well done, and if you are a big-time Pirates nut, you will appreciate some of the in-jokes and winks that you get throughout the game.
However, humor can only get you so far. Fortunately, the main gameplay mechanics are another area where LEGO Pirates succeeds. One of my biggest complaints about the LEGO series as it has aged is the reliance of the "Force" gameplay mechanic. Sure, it's permissible in Star Wars games, but the use of renamed Force powers in games like LEGO Indy and LEGO Harry Potter made me feel like the level design was getting just a bit too lazy. But the good news is that you won't find any Force powers or floating pieces here. Instead, most of the game relies on your ability to fight with a sword and solve simple environment-based puzzles by using each character's various strengths. For example, you can hit targets with Will Turner's axe, you can use Jack Sparrow's compass to find hidden items, and you can even use animal characters to explore hidden areas. While some mechanics are clearly recycled from previous games, most of the gameplay elements feel new. Longtime players won't feel as fatigued from the gameplay as they probably did in previous releases.