Lego Pirates of the Caribbean Review

Lego Pirates Title

Title: LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean
Developer: TT Fusion
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: PSP
Download: 1.3 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: 
Yes

I’m a huge fan of LEGO games and have been ever since I discovered LEGO Star Wars II on the PS2 and PSP.  I’ve made it a habit of reviewing every themed LEGO game the PS Vita has to offer and working on 3DS and DS as well.  At least, for titles that aren’t also available on the PSP/ PS Vita.  Backwards-compatibility is where it’s at, though, while we await next month’s LEGO Marvel’s Avengers.

The last retro review I did on a LEGO title didn’t turn out so well.  That was LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga on the Nintendo DS and let’s just say it’s something even a Star Wars fan would pass on.  Less Content.  Different Content.  Technical Problems.  The list goes on for what all was wrong with it.  So, I was a little worried, to say the least, in looking for more LEGO games to review.

Thankfully, last week’s Disney Day Sale on PSN brought me one of the PSP LEGO titles I’ve been meaning to review, and for a measly 3 bucks, too.  Here is my retro review of the PSP version of LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean!

Story

Lego Pirates Story

Lego Pirates retells the story of the first four Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  While there still are only four, it should be noted that another one is in production.  However, just note that this game covers all four current movies.  It covers Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End, and On Stranger Tides.

This game was made before they were putting in voice acting from the movies in these games.  While the scenes will loosely show major scenes from the movies, there aren’t any voices outside of murmurs and noises.

Gameplay

Lego Pirates Game 2

Much like other LEGO games, this is a 3D action game with puzzle and combat elements.  I would almost wager to say that it was a puzzler with combat elements, as this title has a much bigger focus on puzzles than on combat.

Playing the game is done in a Hub World and through Stages/Levels.  The Hub World has various services and areas, like a shop to buy characters, game stats, as well as an area to launch the game’s levels.  Unlike games like LEGO Batman 3, the hub world doesn’t have its own story and objectives.  It’s just there whenever you load your save data or finish up a level and don’t want to go to the next.

Progressing through levels has you playing out major scenes and events from the four movies.  From the start of the game, only Curse of the Black Pearl is available.  However, beating the first level of that movie unlocks the first levels of all other movies.  That way, you can jump between the movies instead of doing them in chronological order.

Before I go any further, I’m going to ask the question you all are already asking.  Is this the same game as the console version, or did they change and/or remove content from this version of the game?  The levels in the game do play just like they would in the console version, but there are some changes to make note of.  First off, major boss fights are now Duels.  Instead of running around the levels and fighting enemies, you end up doing interactive cut scenes of you fighting them where you input button commands as they appear on screen.  Much like how these types of scenes work in games like God of War and Resident Evil 4.  There are other small changes, like only having one character out at a time, but it’s mostly just like the console version.

Lego Pirates Game

The thing that’s not so good about this is that there is quite a bit of content cut out of this version of the game.  In the console version, each movie has 5 separate levels to play through.  In this version, each movie only has 4 levels.  That means that 4 complete levels were canned from this version of the game.  Whether this is because the file size for this is practically already at the file size limit for a UMD Disc or not, the fact is that this is another incomplete LEGO game.

When you’re going through levels, you’re progressing 3D environments, platforming around and solving puzzles.  The puzzles are pretty simple and straightforward, even to a fault.  It’s “Go get this item and we’ll direct you to this lever”.  Even among LEGO titles, Pirates is an extremely easy game, and seems too simple at times.  That, and the fact that the levels are pretty short.  They almost feel like mini-levels.

When you’re not puzzle-solving, you’ll be fighting enemies, and this is where the fun is.  The combat is simple where you button mash and slash your way through enemies, but the way the game portrays sword-fighting is surprisingly satisfying.  It really makes me wish there was more of a combat focus in this game, as it would make things a lot more fun.

Lego Pirates Game 3

As I said above, Boss Fights have been turned into duels.  So, instead of running around and dodging projectiles in an epic boss fight to end a movie you’re doing 1-on-1 interactive scene duels.  These do have their own charm, but it’s just not the same.

Length isn’t long at all.  I remember reviewing the PSP version of LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 and saying it was short at 4-5 hours.  LEGO Pirates isn’t even that long.  With all the cut content, you’ll spend 2, maybe 3 hours across all 4 movies.  Great if you bought it for three bucks like I did.  Not so great if you spend more like $10-20 on it to get 3 hours out of the game.

Controls

This is relatively simple and should be pretty standard among LEGO fans.  As I always say in these retro reviews, PSP games extend L and R to L2 and R2 on the PlayStation TV.  So, if you use a PSTV and like those rear triggers, then you can make good use of them in this game.

Moving around is done with the D-Pad and Left Analog Stick.  The camera is fixed, so there’s no need for anything to be done with the Right Analog.  The L and R triggers switch the current playable character.  Then, face buttons.  X lets you jump and Square lets you attack.  Triangle is use for ranged attacks, and Circle interacts with objects.

Presentation

Lego Pirates Pres

Visually, the game has its ups and downs.  It looks a lot better than Lego Star Wars did on the DS, but it’s still not up to snuff.  The in-game visuals are a little jaggy on the Vita, but overall, look nice for a PSP Lego title.  The bad part comes from some scenes and areas where the entire visual engine goes from clear to blurry.  It’s not because of the stretching on the Vita or PSTV.  It’s just how poorly those areas and scenes were optimized for the PSP release.

Sound is always good in LEGO games and it is still good here.  That iconic Pirates of the Caribbean theme is shown in nearly every level, but is also mixed with a lot of other scores from the movies.  If you love the music, then you’ll love playing the game, if only to hear all of that background music as you play.

I have no complaints with the game’s performance.  The frame-rate is always steady and load times never exceed 5 or 6 seconds.

Summary

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is one of those games that maintained console-like gameplay.  Despite this, there are a lot of things holding the game back.  From being too simple and only a couple hours long to the visuals being blurry in some areas and a lot of content being cut from this version, it’s far from the definitive version of LEGO Pirates.  It’s the best handheld release by far, but has nothing on the full console version. 

6/10

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