Sail the high seas in three dimensions.
By now, most gamers have a preconception of what the LEGO franchise will deliver with virtually any installment. Pirates of the Caribbean marks the ninth installment in the series, which debuted in 2005, spanning five different franchises. LEGO Pirates delivers little in the way of surprises, but is nonetheless a fun and polished action game on the 3DS. More significantly, it may be the most impressive use of 3D on the system to date.
LEGO Pirates covers all four of the existing Pirates films with four stages based on each movie. 16 stages doesn’t exactly seem all that impressive, especially when you realize that these handheld versions of the stages are shorter than the console games. Even the hub is smaller in comparison to the Wii release. The game is easy to finish in under five hours, however like LEGO games of the past, the amount of collectables and unlockables will keep gamers coming back again and again to replay each stage and leave no structure intact.
The most outstanding feature of the 3DS game is in the title of the system: the 3D effect in LEGO Pirates is fantastic. Of all of the releases for the system so far, this is genuinely demonstrates the potential benefit of the 3D screen in bringing players into the game world. Structures fly out of the screen and sink into the background with every shift of the camera. It’s an impressive effect; even moreso in the cut scenes. They have been recreated for the small screen with the 3D effect in place and it truly adds to the experience.
The graphics are impressive for a handheld, and it has a solid frame rate most of the time. Occasionally, however, the frame rate really takes a hit during more open areas. Clearly, the smaller environments compared to the console version and lack of multiple player characters on the screen at once helps improve the performance of the game, and it does so swimmingly. Likewise, the audio in the game is standard LEGO game fare: music from the movie set to standard action game sound effects making for an epic, but not particularly memorable soundtrack.
The game takes advantage of StreetPass by virtue of figurine battles, allowing you to customize a figure and have it do battle with random strangers on the street. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of 3DS wireless gameplay with LEGO Pirates. That means no co-operative WiFi multiplayer, online or local. Considering that these games are much, much more fun with two or more players, this is particularly disappointing.
As with all LEGO games, there are plenty of doodads and trinkets to collect: 10 ships in a bottle, 4 Pirate coins, and one red brick adorn each stage, each contributing to different types of unlockable items. Players will need to complete all of the story stages to have enough character types to use in Free Play to find all of the hidden treasures in each stage, ensuring plenty of replayability.
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is a fun, if incredibly easy, single-player action game for the Nintendo 3DS which actually makes good use of the 3D. If you are looking for a fun diversion on your new handheld, it’s a game that may very well fit the bill.