This is the second Lego game this year - following on pretty quickly from LEGO Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars (Xbox 360)
, which came out at the end of March. It includes all the stories from the original film trilogy - The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End. It also includes the upcoming new film On Stranger Tides. So, straight away you are getting good value for money, as each film has 5 chapters each.
Unlike some of the earlier Lego games each of the chapters are of a good length and have plenty for you to do - complete the main quest for the chapter, but also try and hunt down the extra items such as the ship in a bottle (replacing the mini kits for this game), and using Jack's magical compass to locate certain hidden items within the level.
Graphically, this is probably the most polished of all the Lego games and has plenty of the humorous cut scenes we have all grown to love throughout the series.
The levels themselves are well well realised and look brilliant - the bright beach levels, contrast with some of the darker levels, so there is plenty of contrast.
The 'hub' environment is well thought out too. There are lots of things to do - unlock new characters, and locate the Red Hats (replacing the Red Bricks of the other games which enable you to earn extra abilities such as invincibility, breathing under water and the essential score multipliers). Certain areas unlock as you earn more Gold bricks from the main game, and this is a nice touch, as you get more areas opening up more regularly to keep you interested.
I only have one minor complaint, and that is the unlockable characters. They are pretty bland - not the games fault in fairness, but more the nature of the films focussing on just a couple of key characters. You find that you are just unlocking different costumes for the same main characters.
One thing they have really improved is the swapping between characters in the hub. In previous games, you had to hunt down the character you wanted to swap to, and in the case of Lego Star Wars: The Clone Wars, there were lots of rooms to explore on the two main Starships. In this one, you just hold down the 'Y' button and a full list of the characters you have earned/unlocked comes up, and you can just quickly select them! An excellent idea, and one that is a welcome addition!
As with all the other Lego games, Pirates of the Caribbean is definitely aimed at the 'fun' end of the market, aimed squarely at family entertainment and having a good time! For the hardcore gamers, looking to earn all the achievements and get the 1000 points, you will recognise the familiar achievements and they are of the same difficulty as the other games.
I have to say i am really enjoying this game a lot. There are some new twists on the other Lego games, particularly Jack's compass, but it just feels really well-polished and i feel i am getting really good value for money. The levels and hub areas are long enough, without being too long and tedious.
As i said at the very start of the review, Lego Star Wars: the Clone Wars has recently come out. If i had to choose between the two, or recommend which one to spend your money on, then i would have to say this is the one to go far. It is much more fun, with better puzzles, and some good improvements on the Lego games.
It is an essential purchase for a family, especially as the co-operative mode is excellent too.
Go and buy this now !
UPDATE 20th May 2011
Just a quick note to say that i have completed this game to 100% and have come across some nasty freezing glitches (which have appeared in some of the other Lego games too). They haven't all occurred in the same places, and have happened when i haven't been playing for ages so it isn't my machine overheating. When it occurs you cannot do anything with your controller, and have to turn the Xbox 360 off on the console itself. I have left the console alone for a while and then have restarted it with no issues whatsoever. I haven't seen any updates on Xbox live yet, and the previous Lego games haven't had updates to resolve any glitches so don't expect there to be one any time soon! It is such a shame though because i had the most fun on this than any of the other Lego games. If you go online and look at some forums, a lot of people seem to be having these sort of problems and in some cases it has stopped people unlocking some achievements. If you are worried about these glitches it may be worth investing some time reading what other people have experienced and how it has affected their game.
I guess i have been lucky, and have managed to unlock all the achievements, but i know some people have been less fortunate.
I hope this helps you make an informed choice on whether to buy this game or not - I personally still loved it!!