Giant Bomb Review

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LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game Review

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The latest Lego extravaganza from Traveller's Tales offers some convincing reasons not to give up on this prolific, kid-oriented series.

There is no character in existence immune to the Lego treatment.

Traveller's Tales' Lego action series may have been skirting the risk of oversaturation for a while now, but it's hard to fault the company's prodigious output when it keeps upping its own quality bar. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean is already the second Lego game in the first five months of this year, so it's no surprise how closely it hews to the specific formula these games have been using since the very beginning. But Pirates advances the look and feel of the Lego series in enough meaningful ways that it's mostly a genuine pleasure to play, provided you haven't had your fill of Lego action already.

This package covers all four Pirates of the Caribbean movies, including the new not-quite-yet-released-at-the-time-of-this-writing flick On Stranger Tides. You get five lengthy levels per movie that all spawn from an island hub area, which is itself bursting with scores of unlockable characters, cheat code-enabling pickups, and sundry other collectibles. This series has always been about amassing as much of its collectible riches as possible, and I still found myself getting sucked into the feedback loop of collecting Lego studs to buy new characters and cheats so I could go back to previous levels and access new areas so I could get even more studs so I could buy more... well, you get the picture, but the point is, the formula still works.

The puzzle design has gotten a bit more sensible.

At least it works when it's supported by well-designed gameplay and a subject matter that lends itself to the irreverent Lego treatment, and Pirates succeeds on both of those fronts better than some past Lego games. The movie franchise itself is already pretty silly, so Captain Sparrow and friends slide right into the ridiculous, mute cinematic style Traveller's Tales has polished to a high sheen over the last few years. There are plenty of great little touches spread throughout the game, like Lego Sparrow's ostentatious walk animation or the way the cursed crew of the Black Pearl seamlessly turns skeletal when they step into moonlight. The game does a great job of recreating the feel of the movies and eliciting a good number of chuckles.

Trial and error has traditionally ruled the experience of playing these Lego games. In this one you'll still spend plenty of time busting up every piece of scenery you can until you figure out what it is you need to do--which still has a simple charm to it, don't get me wrong--but at least Pirates is a little better about directing your attention via floating button prompts and other onscreen iconography than previous Lego games like Batman and Harry Potter. In this relative absence of head-scratching "what the hell do I do now?" moments, the game peppers some more thoughtful environmental puzzles here and there, as well as some neat action setpiece moments that have you sword fighting up on catwalks or riding giant water wheels through the jungle. The game isn't without its frustrations: any sort of platforming or jumping-based puzzle usually ends in gritted teeth, and the dynamic split-screen that comes into effect in co-op isn't as intelligent as it should be. (Put those two specific things together and you may end up throwing a controller.) But these levels are more varied and rewarding to play through than I remember those old Lego games being.

Lego Mortal Kombat, coming soon.

It's kind of shocking how much the graphics and presentation of the Lego series have matured over time, culminating in this game with a visual style that doesn't just look fantastic for a Lego game, but for any game. The developers have added so many little cinematic tricks to the game's repertoire--things like high-contrast lighting and reflections, motion blur, and depth of field--that it looks way, way better than you would expect a kid-friendly game like this to look. Graphics don't make the game, of course, but they sure make it a whole more pleasant to look at.

That's the biggest success of the Lego franchise to date, and specifically of Lego Pirates: it's a game for kids that adults can have fun with too (and one they shouldn't be ashamed of enjoying). It's nice to see this series mature and evolve over time, and while Traveller's Tales will need to continue upping the ante if it intends to keep putting out new Lego games at such a rapid clip, for the moment Lego Pirates offers plenty of reasons to jump back in and mash a few plastic bricks together again.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
56 Comments
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Posted by Random88

looks fun

Posted by phrosnite

Curse of the Black Pearl is my all-time favourite movie so I will be definitely picking this up in the following months.

Edited by PhatSeeJay

Pretty amazing that they've managed to keep this up and not release a LEGO game that does downright suck.

Good on them.

Posted by Vinny_Says

Lego: Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video game: The Giantbomb Review

is the correct title for this. 

Posted by RE_Player1

I've always wanted a Lego game but none of the IPs they have made them for has interested me, I've only ever rented the Star Wars ones for a weekend. It's good to see that these games are still good, apart from the co-op screen split and occasional platforming, but until they make a Tron or Marvel Lego I'm not really interested.

Posted by Th3_James

Arghhhh!

Posted by MagusMaleficus

I bought the 3DS version. Damn fine time-killer at work (yes, I'm allowed).

Posted by FreakAche

The only game to have come out in recent years with a worse name than this, that I can think of is Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Posted by pizzafreak360
@RE_Player92 said:
" I've always wanted a Lego game but none of the IPs they have made them for has interested me, I've only ever rented the Star Wars ones for a weekend. It's good to see that these games are still good, apart from the co-op screen split and occasional platforming, but until they make a Tron or Marvel Lego I'm not really interested. "
A marvel lego would be cool. Though, a DC one is more likely.
Posted by SlightConfuse

@RE_Player92: 

lego batman was fun, so are the star wars ones as well

Edited by emem

Looks great, nice review. 


I think I'll wait for the PC version, weird it's released 2 weeks later.
Posted by Cold_Wolven

After watching the QL this game looks surprisingly good for what it is, both graphically as well game play. This might be my first game in the LEGO franchise.

Posted by CarpetRemnant

I'll probably get this when it's a bit cheaper, looks solid.

Posted by Philzpilz

I was really impressed by the QL, glad it holds up under a full review

Posted by Video_Game_King

At first, I hated the notion that Lego would get its insidious hands on every franchise. Then you mentioned "Lego Mortal Kombat", and something about that just registers as correct.

Posted by craigbo180

I never really hear bad things about the Lego games, for me I just lost interest after star wars.

Posted by LordXavierBritish

As good as this looks, I don't think it can top Lego Batman for me personally.


It's just the universe and characters, that was so much fun to go through in Lego form.
Posted by Xpgamer7

To be expected. COMING SOON: Lego Matrix, Lego LOTR, Lego Mortal Kombat, Lego Spiderman

Online
Posted by Yummylee

Says a lot about the game that Brad even opted to review it. Think it's the first of the lot on the site? Anywhoo looks really good, and I've been a fan of the series since the original Lego Star Wars <3 Didn't too much like the Indiana Jones ones, though the Lego Star Wars trilogy... of the two trilogies + TV show.. have been really fun, and Lego Batman is probably my favourite thus far.

Posted by wolf_blitzer85
@emem said:
" Looks great, nice review. 

I think I'll wait for the PC version, weird it's released 2 weeks later.
"
Oh but it'll be so worth it. The game looks great on consoles, so I can't wait to see what it looks like on PC with everything turned up all the way.
Posted by pickassoreborn

Really loved the crap out of the demo, definitely grabbing this. Glad it got a decent review.

Posted by GunstarRed


I caved in and bought it after the quick look even after vowing not to play another Lego game this year. I have played all but Clone Wars up to this point (and i'm pretty sure i'll get that eventually)  So glad this one is good after  playing the really weak Indiana Jones 2  a month or so ago.

 

Harry Potter has been the best of the bunch I have played  so far, hopefully this one beats that.

Edited by 234r2we232

...Aaaaand this is why you shouldn't let your partner review games for you. 

Another month, another awful Lego game. TT games really have this "most parents and children don't care about fun games or new ideas" concept really down.

Posted by Peanut

I felt this way, graphically, about Lego Clone Wars as well, but my personal favourite is still Harry Potter at this point. Less action and more puzzle solving definitely worked in favour of the Lego design.

Posted by Agent47
@pizzafreak360: It already happened Lego Batman.
Posted by Agent47
@RE_Player92: Well there was Lego Batman.Though I guess you are more of a Marvel fan?Even though Batman is the best thing DC has got.
Posted by pizzafreak360
@Agent47: I meant a DC Universe game, but I did forget about Lego Batman.
Posted by Colf

"Children's Games"  *gets stuck on one puzzle for an hour, calls a goat a dog.*

Edited by Brackynews
@RE_Player92: @Xpgamer7: 
I love to take every opportunity to say how quickly I would buy a LEGO Matrix game, but my understanding* is that (to date) LEGO will not license any movie property that doesn't exist in a PG-13 or lower form.
So, TRON could very well happen. Derezzing bricks and assembling blocky lightcycles could be rad.

*Pretty sure I heard that on Major Nelson's podcast, and since that kind of info is in Larry's wheelhouse it stuck with me.
Posted by Commisar123

Mabye the first time I wanted to buy a lego game

Posted by Little_Socrates

I did notice in the demo that they pretty heavily change the story in certain sequences, which I guess is only annoying if you really remember those films vividly. But, of course, I do, because I bothered to play the demo for this game, right?


Though I love the treatment of Jack's acid trip you showed in the QL, so I'm not really complaining significantly.
Posted by JohnPaulVann

Brad claims he has a girlfriend. Anybody got a picture? 

Posted by tourgen

4 stars?  I'm calling BULLLLLSHIT.  This game looks serviceable at best.

Posted by Ghost_Cat

Like you said before, Braid, I'm surprised Traveler's Tale has mange to churn out more lego-based games at an alarming rate, yet continue to improve and become more fun to play. Hell, I don't mind going back and waisting time getting the extra stuff.  Now if only they did something else other than Lego-based games...

Posted by Yanngc33

Damn, looks like I'm going to have to play this now

Posted by SgtGrumbles

I can visualise Lego Mortal Kombat so well in my mind…

Posted by Vexxan

Definitely picking up this when I'm done with L.A Noire, the graphics are just lovely.

Posted by Jost1

That does it, I'm getting this. It looks great.

Posted by Jost1
@tourgen: Yeah I'm sure Brad put his integrity on the line for a LEGO game dude.
Posted by Zero_
@JohnPaulVann said:
" Brad claims he has a girlfriend. Anybody got a picture?  "
  
Posted by WinterSnowblind
@tourgen said:
" 4 stars?  I'm calling BULLLLLSHIT.  This game looks serviceable at best. "
I'd recommend you check out the demo, at least.  The games are all pretty samey, but they're still a ridiculous amount of fun to play and it's a great way to get kids, girlfriends/more casual gamers into games.

@Brackynews said:
" @RE_Player92: @Xpgamer7:  I love to take every opportunity to say how quickly I would buy a LEGO Matrix game, but my understanding* is that (to date) LEGO will not license any movie property that doesn't exist in a PG-13 or lower form.So, TRON could very well happen. Derezzing bricks and assembling blocky lightcycles could be rad.*Pretty sure I heard that on Major Nelson's podcast, and since that kind of info is in Larry's wheelhouse it stuck with me. "
Correct, Lego are never going to make a game based on a mature rated series, it would completely destroy their family friendly image.  It would be like Mc Donalds having Scream 4 toys in Happy Meals.  They already dropped the Batman license because it was perceived as too violent.

They also only make games that are based on the actual Lego sets, if they aren't making toys of something, they aren't going to make a game based on it.  They do have a partnership with Disney though so both TRON and Marvel characters are possible.
Edited by risseless

I'm enjoying this game as I have all the other Lego games, but this one seems to have more than its fair share of places to get stuck in the environment. I've had to restart a level more than once because a necessary character got stuck under a bridge or in the perpetual slide animation. After ump-teen Lego titles, you'd think the game would be able to detect stuck characters and auto-resolve by now.

My vote for next franchise: Lego Kill Bill =)

Posted by Tordah

As long as they keep up the quality I don't mind the abundance of Lego games. Nobody is forcing you to play them all.

Posted by tehwatafu

I'll wait for Lego Mortal Kombat...

Posted by PieGuy

Lego games and Little Big Planet are saviours when trying to get loved ones in to gaming =P

Posted by MichaelBach

Great review, will pick this up for my nephew and pretend to play it with him for his sake :)

Posted by Chirag4
@phrosnite said:
" Curse of the Black Pearl is my all-time favourite movie so I will be definitely picking this up in the following months. "
What
Posted by phrosnite
@Chirag4 said:
" @phrosnite said:
" Curse of the Black Pearl is my all-time favourite movie so I will be definitely picking this up in the following months. "
What "
What what?
Posted by C_handedPirate

Ace, fun review. Yeah, that's definitely Johnny Depp voicing Jack Sparrow though, listen to his screams in particular! It sounds exactly like him.

Edited by Cusseta

Patrick's voice sounds a lot like Carson Daily's. lol. No offense though.  Patrick is WAY COOLER!!!!

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