|System: PSP, PS3, PC, Xbox 360, Wii, DS|
|Dev: Traveller's Tales|
|Pub: Disney Interactive Studios|
|Release: May 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
by James Trujillo
The bricks are back, and this time it is Jack Sparrow and his motley crew that are getting the LEGO treatment. With past adventure franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, it was only a matter of time before Pirates of the Caribbean were added to the ranks. Over seventy characters from across all three films, plus the soon to be released fourth film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, will be making an appearance.
We recently sat in on a short demo presentation with TT Games to get a rundown on the latest additions in the LEGO series. With a significantly larger focus on pirates, TT Games wanted to bring out a few basic gameplay elements that were specific to the new theme. The first was something they called Buccaneering. This was their general term for the platforming elements of the game. Things like swinging from ropes, climbing up riggings, and even walking planks, will all be a part of the fundamental gameplay; but they also wanted to take things a step further.
Certain sections will be on what the developer called "LEGO rails," which allow players to lock-on to specific areas for dueling, swinging from ledge to ledge, or executing a variety of other activities while remaining safe from the pitfalls of standard platforming. This sounds like a new addition that will certainly bring LEGO's adventurous side to the forefront, and could make for some thrilling in-game sequences taken straight from the films.
Another new aspect to their pirate gameplay is called Pirate Powers. These are elements that are a bit less dexterous than Buccaneering, but are essentially a set of new abilities for a wide array of characters. One such feature will be used when accessing the newly expanded water areas of the game. Characters will now have to worry about maintaining their breath when searching sunken ships in underwater segments. Objects from the environment will prolong this experience, but undead characters will obviously be unaffected.
Jack Sparrow will also have a special ability to help with the progression of the game. His compass, which he finds in the film Dead Man's Chest, remains true to the mythos of the story to reveal his true heart's desire. This will grant the opportunity for players to locate additional treasures in the game or to help find the location of primary objectives. In addition to these added abilities, the developers have incorporated a new "crew" feature. This is basically a new way of swapping characters on the fly without needing to be in a close proximity, and can be done with up to a party of eight characters.
Lastly, they've also included the new element of Curses. These will primarily be featured to expand the free-play portion of the game. For example, the crew of The Flying Dutchmen will be able to access specific areas that are unreachable by normal means. This is due to their ability to become a part of particular areas within the ship, but they will also be hindered slightly because of their vulnerability to moonlight.
The main level we were shown was from the film Dead Man's Chest, and gave a great sense of how they plan to implement a bit of quirky action into the story. Jack was among the natives on the island of Pelegosto, much like in the film, and it was up to Will Turner to come to his aid. The section kicked off with the two heroes in round vine cages, apparently after Will's failed rescue attempt, as they proceeded to roll down various pathways in order to escape. They were, in essence, inside of giant hamster wheels; avoiding traps and tumbling debris, while attempting to outrun the natives. It was a quirky gameplay moment in a typical LEGO fashion, and was actually quite amusing.
The puzzles felt a bit more interesting as well. There was a moment when Jack and Will had to roll their cages inside giant turning wheels in order to move each other up to higher platforms. It seemed more complex than previous games, as there was a great deal of timing involved, in addition to an obvious need for communication between co-op partners.
Even though it was still an early build of the game, it looked promising. There was no music to accompany the gameplay, and many placeholder textures were still present. It was hard to get a general idea on the overall polish of the final product, but if their previous games are any indication, we should expect nothing less than a deeply fun and eccentric experience. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game is targeting a delivery to coincide with the release of the fourth film, On Stranger Tides, which is expected this year in May 2011.
CCC Freelance Writer