Until a week or so ago, I had never played a LEGO video game.
If you know me, that ought to be shocking. For one thing, I’m one of those people who melt and giggle at anything cute. For another, I have a pretty silly sense of humor. I’m willing to at least try most video games. Then there’s the fact that I’m a fangirl, at varying levels, of the Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Pirates of the Caribbean movies. And finally, my personal favorite: at least five years ago, I babysat/gave music lessons to kids who flat-out told me LEGO Star Wars was the best thing ever.
Yeah, I’ve really got no excuse, but I blame the fact that no one rents video games anymore, including me. Now, if Netflix Instant included 360 games… but maybe I should just give it time.
At any rate, a few weekends ago I found myself at Best Buy for a last-minute purchase, the first time I’d set foot in one in probably a year (thank you, Amazon), and then the next thing I knew I was standing in the gaming section, talking to a slightly condescending employee who was probably still in college and made me feel old as hell. I mentioned I was keeping an eye out for LEGO Harry Potter and he said, smirking, “Oh yeah, my girlfriend really likes the LEGO games.”
Ignoring the fact that he clearly thought LEGO games were for girls and infants (based on subsequent conversation, I’m not that sensitive), I sent the young scamp off to be useful and check on the Harry Potter availability. Alas, they were out, but I walked out with the brand-new LEGO release, which encompasses all four Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Now, I can’t compare how this LEGO game stacks up against any of the others. Additionally, while I have seen the first three Pirates movies, I have yet to see the fourth; I thought this might be an interesting experiment given the silent LEGO storytelling method.
Keeping it Short and Sweet
When you were small and read Little Golden Books, did you ever notice that some of the movie adaptations were slightly different than the actual movie? Small details were altered to make the story flow better in the new format. LEGO games do this to a much greater and more effective extent. Sometimes the content is altered to make it less scary for little eyes; firing squads and gallows become stocks where people are pelted with vegetables and pigs (yes, pigs).
Other times details are changed to make things funnier, easier to understand, or less convoluted. The LEGOs don’t talk; it’s mostly pantomime, although they do make sounds – a well-placed “Hah!” from Captain Jack Sparrow can send me into gales of laughter. Thus, the simpler the storyline, the better – literally. There were more than a few times when I thought that the second two movies were greatly improved by the LEGO “edits.”
Even with the condensed storyline, however, it was still helpful to go in knowing the movies, both in following the plot and in figuring out what to do next in the game. I admit I didn’t have much trouble figuring out what to do in the 4th movie content, and the broad outline of the plot was obvious enough, but there were a few smaller details, particularly towards the end, that left me scratching my head – I expect this wouldn’t be the case if I’d seen the film.
Pillaging and… More Pillaging
A pirate’s life for me… in the LEGO sense, that is. The main way you rack up coin is to destroy everything that isn’t vital to the game progression, and I admit, it’s really fun just running around, blindly slashing at anything that moves. You can’t permanently hurt anything important, and you might just uncover a vital piece to the puzzle. Plus, it’s fun to beat up on your second player when they annoy you one too many times. Which reminds me…
Many Hands Make Slow Work
It can be very fun to play two-player co-op mode. It can also be more than a bit frustrating. I can’t count how many times I either heard or said such gems as “Stop! Come over here,” “No, YOU be that guy, I’m busy doing this,” or “STOP! I can’t aim properly while you’re moving around!” And that’s with two adults, folks. Who knows what co-op mode might sound like with children (though I suspect it might be more civilized, actually). You might think two-player mode would be faster, but since there’s no need for communication or mind-reading in single player, it actually works out to about the same pace.
On the other hand, there’s a positively childlike sense of achievement when you do solve something together, or high-five after completing the True Pirate requirements, and that’s not to be discounted. There’s fun to be had however you choose to play the game.
Me Hearties, Yo Ho
As much as I bristled at the insinuation that this game was for “the women and the children,” I have to admit it is one of the most family-friendly video games I’ve played in quite some time. But unlike games that are specifically geared for one demographic or another, I think anyone, of any age, can find an aspect of this game that they enjoy.
The game is a touch short – I’ve played through the story of all four movies already, though I’m going back now to get all the secrets and bonuses. But I’ve enjoyed LEGO Pirates quite a bit – so much so, in fact, that I suspect LEGO Harry Potter will be finding its way into my home before June draws to a close.
What about you? Have you tried LEGO Pirates? What did you think of it? And which LEGO game should be next on my list?