Date Posted: June 20, 2011
Print Edition: June 10, 2011
By now, the Lego console games have become a staple of fun, addictive, and easy group gaming. However, turning movies into video games does not always make for fun and varied game play. After all, every movie has slow, boring parts.
Past Lego games have dealt with this problem in various ways and with various degrees of success. Lego Star Wars, the first pair in the series, focused on providing a lot of stuff to destroy in its environments, instead of sticking to the movie script too closely. Lego Indiana Jones, on the other hand, eschewed explosive Lego blocks flying everywhere for a form of realism that basically just showed the movies in Lego. Lego Harry Potter, finally, preferred a more free-form experience.
The newest entry into the series, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, takes cues from each of the first two and winds up not being a whole lot of fun in the process. While the characters are comically rendered, Jack Sparrow being hilarious in Lego with his funny stance and vocal grunts, and the environments are great to look at, the game has serious pacing, party, and mechanical issues.
The first problem comes from sticking to the script of the movies too closely. The game begins at the start of the first movie. After Jack and Will steal a ship from the royal navy, you are tasked with rounding up a crew of pirates for said ship. This involves a very tedious slog through Tortuga, in which you have to cover the same ground a number of times before you can get the four crew members you will need at some point in the future. The desire to stick to the script also results in many, many cutscenes, which are meant to fill in the gaps of the movie between what is experienced in the levels.
However, pacing takes second fiddle to party problems. By this, I am referring to the party of characters that you must round up in order to play the game, as each character usually has some special attribute that is needed to overcome some specific obstacle. For example, Jack Sparrow has his compass to find hidden puzzle pieces, Gibbs has a blacksmith’s hammer, and the lady characters can jump really high. Trying to figure out what character you need to overcome any given obstacle is not especially difficult, but having all of the characters together on screen can make it a little crowded and too easy (even when waves of two or three bad guys start showing up).
This, however, pales in comparison to the mechanical problems inherent in this game. In order to make the game more piratey (I geuss), the makers made the cues that tell you what you need to do and how to do it blend in with your environment a lot more – sometimes to the point where they are hidden, i.e. invisible. This can lead to some extremely irritating and lengthy delays as you try to figure out what exactly it is you are supposed to be doing and what character you need to do it.
In any case, this game is not all that bad, though I feel kind of cheated of the rental money I put out to get it. I was just really fired up after playing Harry Potter Lego and looked forward to more of the same. Oh well…