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Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

19:4126/05/2011Posted by Sean Evans2 Comments

It’s common knowledge that Traveller’s Tales likes to be prolific with its Lego games. Seeing as how this is the second Lego game to be released this year alone, it’s safe to say that the kid-friendly series is undoubtedly something of a hallmark for the developer. It’s also a hallmark that harbours both positive and negative feelings for a lot of people, and you’d be excused for rolling your eyes at the appearance of a Lego adaptation to Disney’s hugely successful Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. One thing that stays true, however, is that these games are consistently good in spite of their volume.

As you’d expect, the game applies its own idealistic take on the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean movies (including the very latest, On Stranger Tides) by creating what could almost be described as self-parody of key scenes from each movie using familiar Lego trappings. As ever, the quirky and light-hearted reconstructions are made with good humour as well a respectful level of detail for those who can appreciate some heavily self-referential material. If you’re a big fan of the films then you’ll get a kick out of the game on a purely aesthetic basis alone. It’s a token of the Lego games that Traveller’s Tales succeed every time.

Building up masses of collectibles is still key to the experience here. Unlocking a host of playable Legomen and Legowomen from the movies’ vast menagerie of characters is still the most rewarding task to undertake: there are dozens upon dozens of them, right down to the movies’ most minor and incidental roles. If you’ve got an uncontrollable knack for stockpiling as much collectible riff-raff as possible, then the Lego games have always got your back. Make no mistake, this game is – just like those that came before it – designed for kids and not adults, but that’s not to imply some tacit statement that adults can’t find something to like here too. Certainly, playing co-operatively with a buddy in tow is your best bet – whatever their age.

The general objective of each level is pretty much the same as ever, albeit with some clever changes that help do away with the occasional lack of clear direction that previous Lego games suffered from. This time around, a lot of that frustration has been alleviated thanks to more blatant signifying of where to find and place certain objects in the level, on top of better highlighting the next exact section of the area in which you should be rummaging. Without having to bang your head against seemingly dead-ends and instead having directions of progress more clearly signposted, the entire game ends up moving along at a much steadier pace. Hopefully, this design choice will be maintained in future Lego games, as it works in the game’s favour in the long run.

One of the more striking revelations of Lego Pirates of the Caribbean is that it is visually quite remarkable. It may sound like some overstated hyperbole to say so, but I was genuinely taken aback by just how sharp and refined everything looks. The whole surrounding world is brimming with minute graphical detail: everything from the densely lit lighting effects to the lively animations of the Lego characters is strangely captivating. So much so, in fact, that it strikes me as utterly surprising that such impressive levels of technical prowess were grafted to a game of this calibre. At best, the high fidelity of the environments and characters helps to further the cartoon-like personality that permeates every corner of the Lego games, which can only be a great thing for future games in the series.

If there’s anything to take away from Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s that it represents a culmination of style and design that Traveller’s Tales has been tweaking for years now, and does so in the most positive way possible. Every working part of the Lego series has been nigh-on perfected here, but if the formula has never won you over before, then not only will it fail to do so now, but it probably never will.

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