LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean Review

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

Disney Interactive logoOnly a few movie-based games have ever fared well, but the king of them all is the LEGO series, which has gone from a “that’s cute” concept to one of the most widespread movie-franchise reboots of all time. Maybe the LEGO games have become too ubiquitous, but you’ve got to credit TT Games for extending their block-building prowess to every big-time brand around.

The latest entry, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, is timed perfectly for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and as in all previous LEGO games, its tongue-in-cheek spin on the movie is hilarious. But where film franchises go, so go their ancillary tie-in products. With the pirates’ theatrical journey to the Fountain of Youth, there was no real chemistry and, surprisingly, a lack of personality. Guess what fate befalls LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean as well?

From a technical standpoint, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is fantastic. Never before has TT Games delivered a better-looking LEGO game; the visuals are gorgeous from the vibrant HD worlds down to the smooth curves in those little LEGO legs. From a gameplay standpoint, the game oozes classic LEGO mechanics such as stud collecting and unlockable hunting. Some unlockable characters have special abilities that can grant players access to previously inaccessible areas, while others have weapons that are required to open special stud-filled areas.

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean also includes the multiplayer support that makes the LEGO games so fun, features an open hub area that’s larger and more interactive than most LEGO games, and spans all four films by providing five playable levels from each. Put that all together, and it sounds like another excellent LEGO title awaits. From a technical standpoint that’s true, but the LEGO games don’t truly shine because of their technical merits. They shine because of their personality and charm. And much like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the video game doesn’t have nearly the charm of its predecessors.

I don’t fault TT Games for this, because it’s really more a matter of the source material than their development ability. I’m a huge Disney Parks fan and love the original Pirates film, but I’m not so starstruck that I’ll claim the Pirates films are as classic as the theatrical inspirations for the previous LEGO games. As a movie series, Pirates of the Caribbean is growing tired, a curse from which its tie-in products — this game included — can’t really escape. Pirates of the Caribbean is not Star Wars or Indiana Jones, nor is it Harry Potter or Batman, and each of those franchises has had a LEGO game that plays basically the same. The difference is that each of those games has a wider cast of memorable characters and scenes on which to base their game and unlockables.

If you’re a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean and haven’t played many LEGO games, you’ll surely want to add this to your collection. But if you’ve played the recent LEGO games and are merely curious about the latest entry, you’re best served renting it. The game does absolutely nothing wrong, and on its technical merits alone it’s hard to find fault (hence the score below). But from an overall experiential standpoint, the game just doesn’t have quite the same charm as the previous LEGO titles, and as a result feels a tad bit disappointing.

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Score: 8.2 – The gameplay is exactly what you’ve come to expect from a LEGO game, but the graphics look better than any LEGO game before. The issue is more a matter of the franchise it’s tied to, which isn’t as memorable or charming as the other movies with LEGO tie-ins and thus doesn’t provide the same number of memorable levels, scenes or characters.

Platform reviewed: PlayStation 3

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