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LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game - Wii Review

Game Info
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game

Wii | Disney Interactive Studios / Traveller's Tales | 1-2 Players (co-operative play) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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2nd October 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

You know, I had such a good time with LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars that I was looking forward to playing LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game. Well, that and the fact that I have more of a familiarity with this series than the last. Yet, I find it interesting that I ended up enjoying the former a lot more. I don't think that's necessarily because of a major weakness on the part of Traveller's Tales. They probably did all they could to make sure the four movies were replicated well and for the LEGO humor to shine through. But in the end, it just doesn't end up being something that a wide range of people must experience. 

    LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game contains separate adaptations of all four movies, all accessible through an area known as The Port -- a central hub with large maps being used to track chapter-by-chapter progress. Players don't have to start from the first movie and work through the game in chronological order, but most will probably do so anyway. Playing through the game, you feel like an actual movie is unfolding bit-by-bit, and this is largely thanks to the theatre-style approach that has been implemented. Loading screens consist of mini skits where puppets will chase each other on a ship, and even in some cutscenes, you feel like you're watching a developed storyboard pan out.

Getting into the meat of the game, controls are mapped to the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, with the Analog Stick being used for movement while a quick press of the B Button will get your character to draw/use their weapon. In the case of swords, you can also shake the Wii Remote but I didn't find much fun in doing so. When using certain characters, holding down B and aiming at the screen will allow you to toss axes at targets higher up. As you approach parts of the environment you can interact with like cannons and torches, an icon will appear just above the element indicating which button needs to be pressed. Since the layout is pretty user-friendly, I have no real complaints.

    As far as collectables go, just like in all LEGO games, there are a series of Studs that appear in different denominations. The treasure you collect during missions can be used on bonuses at The Port, including disguises and ability enhancements. They can also be used towards purchasing characters for use in Free Play mode, particularly those whom aren't already made playable over the course of the storyline. Assorted Minikit parts are placed in the various levels you visit, appearing as ships in bottles. If you found them to be hard to spot in the last game, you'll be happy to know they are a bit easier to grab this time around.

As the main star of the series, Jack Sparrow has some unique moves that involve the use of his compass. Holding the Z Button will bring up his compass menu which has eight slots you can aim at using the Analog Stick. Selecting one of these occupied slots will cause blue footprints to appear on the ground for you to slowly follow and uncover buried treasure. 

    There are tons of other characters to enlist the help of on your journey, each with special abilities of their own. Some of the male characters act as swordsmiths with the ability to weld materials together to form new constructs. Ladies can double jump from colourful and flowery spots and reach areas other characters cannot. Other special moves include crawling through small spaces (Marty), walking at the bottom of the sea (Bootstrap), or digging up buried items (Guard Dog).

    Many of these characters are introduced to you as you go about searching for members of your pirate crew. However, there are some who are part of the story but aren't playable initially. After engaging them in a random sword fight at The Port, however, you'll be given the opportunity to use them in Free Play. Revisiting missions under Free Play mode, you can cycle through the unlocked characters in the order they appear on the character selection menu by pressing the 1 and 2 Buttons. A quick word on The Port: both the hub and its surrounding areas are average-sized, with a few secrets to discover as Gold Bricks are earned. Some secrets include red hats that give you codes you can activate in the Extras Menu. I wouldn't say the gradual developments are as exciting or varied as what was seen in LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, but they get the job done of motivating players to keep playing.

I really feel that Traveller's Tales has done a good job re-creating some of the key moments in each of the movies. In 'Curse of the Black Pearl', for example, the battle Will Turner and Jack Sparrow have on that runaway wheel is well executed. They even have the rotating angles from the movie during that scene. Then in 'Dead Man's Chest', you get to experience some roll-in-a-ball platforming that actually made me think back to Crash Bandicoot. At other times you'll be exploring Davy Jones' ship, visiting the dark caves of the Isla de Muerta, and gathering important figures together for a conference in 'At World's End'. All of these have been approached well and will quickly make supporters of the Pirates films think back to how these events originally played out.

    The only events that I wasn't as pleased with were the boss battles. First off, I should say that the game doesn't make a spectacle of all boss encounters, as there are both mini-bosses and end-of-chapter bosses. I thought it was completely random to launch coconuts at a giant crab on the beach, but there was some redemption in getting to face off against a swamp monster later on. Fighting Captain Barbosa and his cursed crew members in a dark cave was kind of enjoyable, but I found the fight against the Kraken to be quite lame. It's a mixed bag all-around, with nothing standing out and everything coming under scrutiny for being underwhelming.

Throughout the experience, there are some pretty humorous alternatives to events that occurred in the movie. For example, at the end of the second movie, Jack Sparrow carries a toothbrush as he jumps into the Kraken, and the dog that was presumably dead becomes King of the Cannibals. It's all part of the light-hearted humor and appeal that comes through even despite the sometimes dark nature of the movies. 

    LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game also includes some well-placed puzzles to break up the action elements. At an early point in the game, you'll be tasked with bouncing light off reflective objects on an island. Later on, you'll also solve an organ puzzle where you need to step on the right notes to move on, and even participate in a Simon Says dance. I enjoyed these moments quite a bit, although I have to admit I wished they were more prolific.

    I'm not sure what it was that made me so attentive to this, but for some reason I noticed that there were quite a few situations that bounced between realistic and not. At one point when you're facing the Black Pearl, a cutscene shows a pretty barren ship that's missing some crew members. And when walking underwater with a barrel over your head, suddenly the need to come up for air is no longer an issue. But later in that same chapter, I liked how only a portion of your crew went below deck for the attack. Otherwise, it would've been a question of who's protecting the ship. The fact that I noticed these kinds of things says to me that the developers probably should've spent a bit more time making sure every aspect of the game was solid.

Just like in LEGO Star Wars III, I still experienced some confusion at times, to the point where I felt stuck and didn't know what to do. There was one instance where I had to tug on a chain to initiate an event, but it took me what seemed like forever to figure out that's what I needed to do to advance. For the most part though, Pirates is less ambiguous with what players are expected to do than the previous game, so that's an improvement worth taking note of.

    The game features some good musical tracks, which have been clearly taken or inspired from what was present in the films. The visuals look on par with what was seen in Traveller's Tales previous LEGO game with some nice attention to detail in the levels you visit. In speaking about the presentation values as a whole, though, it's a lot easier to discuss the negatives. There are a host of technical flaws that put a hamper on the experience. Between multiple game freezes, blinking textures, framerate dips, characters getting in the way of button-triggered actions, as well as glitchy areas within levels, there is a lot to prevent you from enjoying this game fully. And naturally, frustration can ensue as a result.

If you were to ask me if I thought the game was worth its original price of $40, I would have to say no. Even if you consider yourself a big fan of Pirates of the Caribbean, there are many things one could take up issue with to the point that you won't feel like the game was money well spent. Especially for those that plan to use the co-op feature with a younger gamer, either party may not like the fact that more than the usual patience is required for certain aspects of the game.

    A pirate ship could have a number of cracks or holes, but may still function adequately. But to expect any kind of exceptional performance out of a damaged ship would be setting yourself up for disappointment. In like manner, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game does a good job of retelling the events of the first four films in a way that makes players feel like they are a part of the unfolding plot. But at the same time, there are a series of flaws with presentation and, to a lesser degree, even some minor gameplay aspects. While it's still a playable game despite those issues, I'd recommend looking out for a discounted price before diving in.

20/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - Key events from the movies have been replicated well, mix of platforming and action elements, occasional puzzles, bosses aren't great
Presentation 6/10 - A host of technical flaws including glitches and framerate instability, good soundtrack, level designs demonstrate an attention to detail
Enjoyment 3/5 - More clarity with what players are required to do, technical flaws can cause some frustration, areas for improvements here and there
Extra Content 4/5 - Plenty of characters included, Free Play mode increases replay value, can aim to collect all Minikits, not worth paying full price for

Equivalent to a score of 67% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game
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