Pirates of the Caribbean receives a charming and funny LEGO makeover

The Pirates of the Caribbean movie series has always traded on its inane goofiness. It’s flamboyantly overacted and much heavier on style than story, but it’s this irreverent style that lends itself perfectly to receiving the Lego treatment from perennial Lego game creators Traveller’s Tales. The results are as whimsical and fun as ever.

These days it would seem no franchise is safe from getting the ‘ol Lego makeover. Movies (LEGO Star Wars), Comics (LEGO Batman), existing music games (LEGO Rock Band), you name it. It’s too the point now where we’re seeing multiple Lego game releases per year, which could turn into a major issue except that the games are getting better.

Of course while each game has seems to have gotten consistently better, that doesn’t mean they’ve thrown out the Lego handbook to brave new ground. No, the Lego games are defined by the tropes they return to again and again. In Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, developer Traveller’s Tales has once again returned to this fertile ground but once again improved and refined its’ formula.

The entire game covers all four movies in the series, including the just released “On Stranger Tides.” We get five rather sizeable stages for each flick, strung together by the always funny, always pantomimed cutscenes to fill in the plot gaps. Each of those stages is bursting at the seams with collectibles, tons of characters to acquire and piles of Lego studs used to buy even more unlockables.

Just like the other Lego games in the series, the levels themselves aren’t that hard to beat outright, but if you want to get 100% completion you’ll usually have to return to a level more than once bringing along different characters to take advantage of their unique abilities. These games have mastered the carrot-on-a-stick method of collection, pushing players into a cycle of playing a level to collect studs so they can buy an item that will allow them to grab more studs that will allow them to buy… well you get the idea.

On the gameplay front if there was a complaint about the first few Lego games it’s that there were times you weren’t sure what you were supposed to do to move forward. In Lego Pirates of the Caribbean whenever you pick up an item an onscreen prompt tells you exactly where you need to take it, cutting out the annoying trial and error almost altogether. This leaves time to put in some more puzzle elements, which are way more satisfying to complete.

Now that the developers have their game style nailed down, they’ve had time to really make improvements to the look of the game, and they didn’t let this time go to waste. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean doesn’t just look good for a Lego game, but can stand next to just about any of your other PC games and hold its own easily. It’s almost disconcerting to see dynamic lighting or water reflection in a Lego game, but it’s all in there.

At this point in the series it would be easy to think that at this point the Lego games have reached oversaturation and it’s time for us all to move on, and with good reason. The games seem to be coming out at a faster and faster clip each year. But each game in the series manages to top the one before it, and as long as that keeps up well…. the more Lego the merrier. It’s one of the rare kid oriented games that can easily be enjoyed by us grown-ups.