IGN Review of LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game
I've been a skeptic of the 3DS since its launch. It's definitely cool, but I had a hard time imagining how playing a game in 3D would actually change the experience, other than making it look fancy. That's why I was pleasantly surprised that the 3D makes a big difference in LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean.
LEGO Pirates is standard fare for the LEGO series. If you've played one, you know how they all work. You'll run through the story and environments of all four movies, smashing everything in sight, collecting studs, pirate doubloons, red bricks, and little ships in glass bottles, while solving some simple puzzles. Different characters have different special abilities, and you are able to switch between members of your party at any time. This gameplay set-up is what has made the LEGO games so popular, and it continues to be fun in this latest outing.
The goofy nature of the Pirates of the Caribbean films is also a good fit for a LEGO game, and the developers take full advantage of it with character design and gameplay scenarios. My personal favorite is how Jack Sparrow's running animation makes him look like an intoxicated buffoon.
Shortened versions of the cut scenes from the console versions are used to tell the story. While you can see some artifacts here and there from the video compression, for the most part the movies look pretty good on the 3DS. The 3D in the movies is also admirable. There were only a few moments when I noticed the 3D effect falling flat, or getting blurry.
The portable version of LEGO Pirates is similar to its console big brothers. Many of the environments are the same, but some of the puzzles and means of getting through the levels are a little different. The handheld version also adds in a special Pirate Duel mechanic when fighting major characters and bosses. After initiating an attack on the character, you will watch an animation and madly mash the B button to gain an advantage when the swords are locked. After that, you'll need to complete a quick-time event to actually land a blow on your opponent. At first, this was a nice way to break up the gameplay, but since these duels don't get any more difficult as you go along, they started to feel more like an annoyance. In the end, I would have preferred to just attack enemies the old fashioned way.
The Pirate Duel is also a multiplayer element that makes use of the StreetPass feature on the 3DS. You pick your character and specify the strength of three attacks and three defense moves. Then when your 3DS picks up another 3DS with a pirate, the two will duel automatically. While this is pretty neat, it makes me wonder why this mode wasn't included as a standard multiplayer feature with other players of your choice rather than strangers. And while we're on the subject of multiplayer, the lack of wi-fi cooperative play is a disappointing omission, especially since that's one of the things that make these games so fun.
But the best thing about playing on the 3DS is that some of the maddening platforming that can lead to multiple deaths in the console version is not complicated at all. Being able to more efficiently see the depth of the environment makes it a lot easier to aim your jumps, even though the camera is still fixed. I actually can't remember a single area in the 3DS version that caused me any problems.
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