Since 2005, the Lego franchise has really managed to cement itself as a permanent fixture in the world of video games, and it's all thanks to Traveller's Tales. They took the ever popular building toy, combined that with existing IPs like Star Wars and Harry Potter, and never looked back. It was a winning formula and that's why it's expanded so quickly and the latest expansion sees Lego combine with Pirates of the Caribbean on the eve of the fourth film's theatrical release.
With there being so many Lego titles released in recent years, it has given Traveller's Tales numerous opportunities to improve game's engine and improve they have. However, the core experience still remains vastly unchanged. You will control different characters from the film as they play through different key scenes that take place. In typical fashion, you then need to construct or destroy objects, which will allow you to progress through to the end of the level.
There is an instant change here though, and that comes in the form of the roles that each of the characters plays. Each character has, as you'd expect, their own personality and attacks. Playing as Jack Sparrow will feel quite different to playing as Will Turner and each of the characters has their own special abilities. For example, Jack carries around his trusty compass, which can be used to find much needed objects, while others can perform double jumps and mend specific objects.
As you progress through levels for the first time, you will gradually accrue different characters who will allow you to progress. For example, one of the first characters you'll gain is a dog, which allows you to dig for items. You'll also gain access to another character who has a rather powerful gun. It adds a puzzle element to the gameplay as well, which is nice. And the good thing is that selecting different characters is now much easier. You need to simply hold down the button and it'll open a radial menu.
Traveller's Tales has taken the time to work on some of the finer details, such as the dynamic split-screen. It's a little bit strange to start off with, especially if you've never played a Lego game before, but subtle refinements have been made to make sure that this time, it's better than ever. The graphics have also been given a tune up, most noticeably, the water effects. And there will be plenty of opportunities to check these two things out, as you'll be able to play through all four of the films - with typical humour intact throughout.
One of the biggest draws into the Lego series has been its replay value, and that doesn't look to have changed with Lego: Pirates of the Caribbean. You will still be able to smash everything up to collect studs and getting a certain score in each level will reward you with the "true pirate" moniker. There are also more "hidden" objectives to perform in each level, which will require you to return in free play mode.
Overall, it doesn't seem as though Lego: Pirates of the Caribbean strays too far from the tried and tested, but it's still going to be a must-have for fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise - especially with On Stranger Tides releasing at the same time.