LEGO Pirates Of The Caribbean Preview

What do you get when you combine a celebrated childhood toy with a Disney blockbuster? No, not “The Lion Ker-Plunk-ing”, although that should definitely be patented as soon as possible… what you get is LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean and I, for one, was intrigued when the call came from GL HQ to go and join the folks from Disney and Traveller’s Tales at a pub in Camden for their preview event.

For anyone unfamiliar with the LEGO franchise thus far, Pirates Of The Caribbean follows in the wake of such classics as Star Wars, Batman, and Indiana Jones along with, more recently, Harry Potter. All of them fun in their own right and a good excuse for an adult to indulge in a little childlike fun along with more than a splash of nostalgia for anyone who loved the little bricks as I did when I wasn’t treading barefoot on them.

This latest LEGO outing comes to us on the usual platforms of Xbox 360 and PS3, both of which were on display and available for hands-on play along with a version on the new Nintendo 3DS, and will also be available on DS Lite, DSi, PSP and Wii. LEGO Pirates Of The Caribbean (hereafter referred to as LEGO POTC) follows the exploits of Captain Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner from their introduction to us in The Curse of the Black Pearl through the second and third films, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, bringing us up to date with the latest blockbuster, On Stranger Tides, due for release on May 20th. With LEGO POTC hitting shelves a good seven days before the new movie, avid LEGO players will get a feel for the story before the film reaches the movie-going public if they stick at the game and complete the storyline quickly, something which I believe is entirely possible as, between Joey and I, we managed to get through the Black Pearl levels and a good way through Dead Man’s Chest in the three or so hours of gameplay we had at the event.

LEGO POTC kicks off with the usual cut scenes merging the film world and the LEGO universe in typical humorous fashion, something that TT Games have managed very well with each of their LEGO titles thus far. This time however, it seemed to me that their animation and backdrops were leagues ahead of previous titles and stunning to boot. The animators have certainly captured the essence of Captain Jack Sparrow and seeing him tottering around the screen looking drunk, swaggering along, and fighting like a demon when, as in the film, he and Will Turner first meet in the blacksmiths workshop was fantastic. The level of detail they’ve brought to the LEGO characters was rather amazing and a testament to the skill of the team that put this together. Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann’s LEGO adaptations were also spot on, although I suspect it was rather an easy job turning Keira Knightley’s somewhat manly chin into a LEGO head. The other stand out characters from the film, Pintel and Ragetti (the man with the wooden eye), were also given the attention necessary to keep them true to their silver screen selves and [[give]] the game a true Pirates Of The Caribbean flair.

Without going into too much detail and potentially blundering a spoiler into this preview, there are a couple of things about this latest LEGO release that are new to the series and add to the general fun of the game. The first of these, and one that Jonathan Smith, Head of Production at Traveller’s Tales was very keen to promote, is the new Super Free Play. They’ve essentially taken the option from previous games where you can hold down the Y button (on the 360 version) to choose between the six or eight characters available to you in the Free Play mode and expanded on it so that now, in POTC, holding down the Y button in Free Play now brings up the full cast to choose from, allowing you to select any that you have already unlocked. It seemed to me to be a natural progression from the previous Free Play system and one that worked well. Another innovation that came up during gameplay was that they now allow you to climb certain parts of the scenery, such as trees and masts and rigging, which doesn’t sound like much but the designers have animated things in such a way that your LEGO character wobbles and moves as if their balance is impaired and they have to adjust themselves, just as you or I would if we were walking across a plank or climbing something slightly unstable.  Then we have Jack’s Compass, whereby pressing and holding B while playing any of the Captain Jack Sparrow characters activates a scroll wheel with a selection of pertinent objects to help you through the level. Select the one you want and little blue glowing LEGO footprints appear on the floor, allowing you to find your way to the object needed to progress which, for me, was an inspired device to help out with the usual LEGO game grinding elements.

All in all, the game itself is classic LEGO fun that has evolved enough to expand the functionality and gameplay to the point where it’s not just more of the same. The cut scenes are beautifully rendered and the graphics in-game are stunning. Gameplay is exactly as you’d expect from the LEGO franchise and is, at times, irritatingly tricky but that is at least half the fun with the series.

The multiplayer element is, as always, enjoyable although the dynamic split screen can be a little distracting at times. I did ask Jonathan Smith whether there were any plans to move LEGO to include online multiplayer but, at this stage, he didn’t think it was something they’d consider as he sees it as a slightly different facet to the social side of gaming in that, in order to play with friends, you have to actually have the friends visit you, or vice versa. No bad thing really, as it serves to bring people together in real life rather than relying on an online arena.

I for one am looking forward to picking this one up and playing through the story mode, and may even grind through the Free Play elements as there seemed to be plenty to explore and mess about with including riding a LEGO pig, as well as horses.

On a final note, if you’re at all precious about your gamerscore and don’t like seeing it end in anything other than a zero or a five I’d recommend that you avoid picking up LEGO Pirates Of The Caribbean unless you fully intend to complete it, as one of the first achievements we unlocked on the 360 version was for just 2G and we didn’t see a 3G or an 8G at all in the time we played.

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  1. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    It’s funny… I love Batman… love Star Wars… love Indiana Jones… but those particular LEGO games just didn’t grab me at all. I played LEGO Star Wars and enjoyed it at first but got bored very quickly as it just wasn’t my type of game… not that it was a BAD game, just that it wasn’t for me. Since then I’ve not played another, but I’ve watched people play it and still never had the feeling that I wanted to give them another go.


    I actually dislike the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies… well, I liked the first one as it was funny and pretty different from anything else out at the time, but I can’t remember the second one and remember hating the third one with a passion. Yet, from reading this, I’m finding myself drawn towards giving LEGO PoTC a chance. It’s nothing to do with the movies, or the fact that it’s pirates (who doesn’t like pirates, after all? – rhetorical), but because the set pieces look so different and so I imagine there’s more enjoyment to be had from exploring the surroundings. I could be wrong, of course, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

    If they produced a LEGO Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit, however, I’d be all over that one!

  2. Pete Pete says:

    The Lego games can be a grind at times especially if you’re a completionist but I have had fun with them :) I think the Harry Potter one wins so far on game play but the Star Wars ones on sheer joy at reliving the story :)

    I’d buy Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit too mate ;)

  3. Lorna Lorna says:

    I tend to enjoy the Lego games because I can just relax back and not get too worked up about the gameplay, although that said, the Star Wars ones never grabbed me for some reason. Out of all that I have played so far, I’d day that Lego Harry Potter has worked the best and seemed to mesh perfectly with the Lego world. POTC seems to also be a great fit and I look forward to seeing some of the set pieces in Lego form. Plus any game with pirates in it is worth a look, that’s the law.

  4. Lee says:

    You leave Keira Knightley alone, she’s lovely (except in Domino)

    I’m gutted about no xbox live/psn support, its the only thing missing from the Lego games.
    *sniff* nobody ever comes to visit me

  5. Pete Pete says:

    I know that feeling well Lee!!

    I can see where he was coming from but i’d like to see it in the games too :)

  6. Edward Edward says:

    I respect their decisions with the multiplayer, but I can’t play this simply because the achievements aren’t done in 5s. It sounds so pathetic, but it’s a case of “I may go mad with slight OCD” and “I don’t have enough time in my life to lose myself to Lego games again after Star Wars 1 and 2″.
    Games are fantastic, and I have no doubt this’ll be a fun romp though.

    Good job on the article Pete, and spot on with the questions :D

  7. Pete Pete says:

    Ed… the other 3 points may come within the storyline but I don’t know for sure! You could take a chance and break away from your OCD ;)

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