Jul 13, 2011

[Games] LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean (PS3)

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean (PS3)I now own a total of 7 LEGO-themed games for the PS3, at least by my last count. What can I say? I'm such a sucker for these games! I suppose the repetitive puzzle-solving nature of the games appeal to the logic centers in my brain or something. Plus LEGO humor is pretty amusing, at least for me.

And this collection of 7 also includes this latest foray into the LEGO Universe, this time by Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. While I haven't exactly earned my sea legs when it comes to the Pirates fan groups, I'd like to think that I do share a healthy appreciation for the franchise, primarily because of my geek friends, and this is despite not really feeling the whole pirate genre as a kid. Probably the closest that I ever got to appreciating more of the genre was because of Marauder from the Robots in Time series, which featured an Asmovian robot escaping the authorities by going back in time. And this in book, the target robot hid in the age of pirates, thus providing a lot of relevant information on the pirate life. At least that's how it worked for a science fiction geek like me.

But like the Pirates movies, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this game. In fact, I'm pretty surprised how quickly the whole thing has gone and as of the time of this writing, I'm pretty much just finishing off all the secret bonus stuff, as is the pattern in any LEGO game. And if anything, I think it's safe to say that I'm just in the mop-up phase of my gaming time with about five trophies left for me to attain and a few more stages to play through in Free mode.

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is the latest video game property to involve the LEGO-driven adaptation of a work of popular fiction. Like other LEGO games, it's mainly an adventure game filled with LEGO-themed puzzles that are linked to the franchise in question. Also, the game was also developed by Traveler's Tales, who've been involved with the series pretty much since the beginning.

The game spans all four Pirates movies with each movie represented by a single stage with 5 levels, thus resulting in 20 levels of gameplay. For those familiar with the LEGO game concept, the four maps are again accessible from a central hub location, which in this case is Port Royale. As you play through the game, you'll continue to earn gold bricks, which later on are used to unlock more areas in the Port Royale hub. And instead of the red bricks from before, Port Royale is seeded with various Red Hats that you can discover and eventually purchase for studs in order to gain power ups like double treasure or extra hearts.

The game goes through the usual arrangement of characters with their specific functions to be performed. For example, the high jump characters in the game are all the female characters while both dogs and vertically-challenged characters can travel through grates in the way to other areas. Shiny silver objects can still be destroyed by explosives but large muskets can also do the trick. And people with shovels can dig up buried objects.

In terms of new stuff brought to the game, I suppose the best example is how much they've expanded the swimming options. Given both the cursed crew from the first movie and the hybrid sealife crew from the second movie, they decided to add the element of more challenges that are set underwater. Normal characters have a limited amount of air to breathe when underwater while the aforementioned cursed crew members can breathe freely in the depths, thus allowing them to surpass challenges by digging, carrying objects and of course building structures out of LEGO.

Jack SparrowImage via WikipediaIn addition, having Jack Sparrow as part of the crew means the added benefit of being able to utilize his compass to locate secret objects in the various stages. Some are essential to moving forward through the stories while others are just bonus items that you still need to collect in order to finish the game to 100%. The compass objects replace the old Students in Peril from the Harry Potter game and the various hostages in the Batman game.

The game continues in the grand LEGO style of very silent humor relying on sight gags and visual comedy. The developers managed to avoid too much mumbling dialog this time around as compared to how talkative the characters were in Harry Potter. Admittedly, the cut scenes were often a lot longer than what I'm used to, thus leaving you as a playing spending a good amount of time watching the sequences on the screen as they opt to recreate scenes from the movies without your assistance (or interference).

The trophies built into the game were pretty interesting. Beyond the typical ones that you get for finishing stages for the first time, there are also quirkier ones based around lines from the movie. For example, The Best Pirate I've Ever Seen is only awarded if you finish the first stage without dying while The Worst Pirate I've Ever Seen is achieved when you finish the first stage with ZERO studs in hand. And Gents, Take A Walk is given once you've walked on the seabed with every single possible character that can do so. Now who would have come up with that, right?

If anything, the game feels surprisingly short compared to past LEGO games as evidenced by the fact that it only has 20 story stages while Harry Potter had at least 24. At the same time, the ease of play might have been increased because of the tighter hub structure since with Hogwarts it was hard just figuring out where to go. The main annoyance for me in the game is the act of buying characters since instead of a shop of sorts where you can select characters at your leisure, you need to catch the character walking around Port Royale to purchase him. And if it's an enemy character, you first need to beat them into submission (but not kill them) before the buy option appears. Sheesh.

Still, LEGO Harry Potter is fun for any fan of either of the LEGO or the Pirates franchise. It gets 3.5 cases of impossible balance and acrobatics by LEGO Jack Sparrow out of a possible 5.

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