Lego Pirates of the Caribbean review

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Lego Pirates of the Caribbean review

Lego games are always stuffed with hidden toy treasures. What could be more natural than sending rowdy pirates to plunder it? Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game splits four movies into 20 episodes of light-hearted action and puzzle-solving.

As ever, much of the gameplay involves merrily bashing the world to bits, then rebuilding with whatever rubble remains. Jack Sparrow’s exploits lack the set-piece grandeur of Star Wars and the engaging sorcery of Harry Potter, but offbeat wrinkles and goofy diversions help keep them entertaining. The best moments are the sort of thing you won’t see in any other game, like swapping between four desert-addled Jacks in At World’s End, or tearing up King George II’s banquet hall in On Stranger Tides.

Flaws that seemed forgivable in previous Lego games are less so here, however. How excited can you get about swashbuckling when it amounts to tapping the attack button until your opponents lie in pieces? How do you work out what to do next when you can’t damage a minor boss, and the half-baked automatic hint system remains maddeningly silent even after an eternity of fumbling? Thankfully, you’ll get up to all sorts of silly hijinks when you’re not waving a sword. Roll around inside enormous hamster balls, fire cannons, ride squealing livestock, launch yourself from catapults — the list of amusements is as long as any raider’s rap sheet. Most of these diversions are fleeting, but the resulting giggles make up for a fair amount of any frustration you’ll experience.

What really pulls Pirates’ bacon out of the fire, though, is good ol’ Free Play mode. Though the campaign often relies heavily on plodding along treasure trails and fetching prosaic objects, heading back into old warrens with new characters reveals lots of hidden areas and collectible goodies. Special abilities woefully underused by Story Mode suddenly come to the fore as you penetrate barnacle-choked passages, black-and-red blockades, and sparkling chrome scenery. Jack might be the star, but you’ll have more fun with the supporting cast once his spotlight dims.

On Xbox 360

+ Some surreal scenarios and LOL Lego-style plot re-creations.

+ Lots of hidden goodies and unusual special abilities give Free Play mode tons of replay value.

- Dull swordplay; some very arbitrary puzzles; stalking buried treasure is tedious; no online co-op.

? Does Davey Jones’ tentacled face make you crave a <i>Lego Cthulhu</i>, too?

7.5

 
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