'LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean' Hands-On Preview

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

After checking out a pre-alpha build of the upcoming Disney Interactive title, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean at GDC earlier in the year, Game Rant couldn't resist the invitation to go hands-on with the title for some swashbuckling fun once more. This time not in San Francisco, but in a pub in London, England where LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean was available to play on the Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS as well as Sony's PlayStation 3.

Developer Traveller's Tales of the TT Games group has clearly worked hard on its latest LEGO movie tie-in. It's fair to say from the outset that this game will be a must-have for any fans of the previous LEGO titles – and may even win over a whole bunch of new fans due to the improvements made to the gameplay, as well as the usual LEGO stud collecting fun.

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean will cover all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, including the yet to be released Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in the unique and humorous way that only TT Games know how. One of the first things that comes to the player's attention during the few cutscenes we witnessed is how well TT Games has captured the essence of franchise poster boy Captain Jack Sparrow. The mannerisms, smirks and laughter are almost identical to the character in the films, played by Johnny Depp. It's not just Sparrow either. Many of the leading characters are instantly recognizable, which gives players and instant familiarity with the game.

Players are given the freedom to choose which story they start with in the game, though we recommend following the same route as the movies to allow the cutscenes to fall in the appropriate context. There are more than 20 levels to play through overall, where players will encounter over 70 characters, both old and new. As players unlock more characters throughout the game, they can all be individually used in the 'Freeplay' mode where characters with special abilities will have access to areas that others cannot reach.

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

We played through some of the Curse of the Black Pearl levels where players play as Will Turner (Orlando Bloom in the films) and engage with Jack Sparrow in a sword fight. This is a tutorial sequence of sorts which teaches players about the sword fighting mechanic in a fun and witty fashion. Basic, one-button sword fighting skills are present until the characters lock swords, where the only way to hit the other player is to tap a series of button prompts on time. This mixes up the combat nicely and gives the sword fights more of a dramatic feel.

Another new feature in the game is the use of Jack Sparrow's compass. Players can use it to navigate through to objectives – another example of the hard work and thought gone into the game to make it as accurate to the actual movies as it can be for a LEGO game.

The offline co-op has had a mini refresh, too. In previous LEGO games, when the second player left the screen the other player had to wait for them to join the screen again to carry on. TT Games has worked on a new dynamic split screen which while a little difficult to get the hang of, soon becomes a major plus for the co-op. The screen splits in half and then merges back into one as and when needed, allowing both players a little more freedom than the previous LEGO titles. The LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 game utilizes this feature as well.

We played LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean on the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo 3DS. On the 360, the game looked fantastic – LEGO Pirates is the most visually rich LEGO game to date – and it was much of the same on the 3Ds, although the 3D element did little to enhance the gameplay – apart from make the LEGO Studs stand out a bit more. That said, it is looking like LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean will be the best LEGO game to date when it releases on all platforms on May 10th and one that will be a sure fire hit with children and adults alike.

Will you be ordering a copy or LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean? What is your favourite LEGO game so far? Let us know in the comments.

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean is out May 10 in the US and May 15 in Europe for Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, PC, Wii, 3DS and DS.

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