- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The biggest question about the latest pop-culture franchise to be “Lego-ized” is not whether Lego Pirates of the Caribbean (Disney Interactive and TT Games, reviewed for Xbox 360, rated E10+ for players 10 and older, $49.99) will be fun (that’s a given) but how many more iterations of the formula can gamers withstand?

We already have Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and Batman to appreciate in all of their block-building and -destroying glory. Now, Capt. Jack Sparrow and the gang become cute minifigures, mumbling their way through all four films (yes, even “On Stranger Tides”) and this gamer found the third-person adventure a gorgeous, family-friendly, fun experience.

One or two players eventually control 70 characters, including Bootstrap Bill Turner, Davy Jones, Will Turner and four versions of Jack Sparrow, who swashbuckle through some very exotic locations from the films while collecting studs, solving puzzles, fighting with swords, throwing axes, finding “ship in a bottle” relics and swimming underwater.

The familiar cooperative drop-in/drop-out mode is back to allow two pirates to argue about where to go next  parents who have played other Lego games with their offspring already are very familiar with this struggle.

Highlights are enough to keep players working though and returning to the enormous amount of areas. Included in the action is controlling those ball-like bone cages on Pelegosto, using Jack’s compass on scavenger hunts to follow footprints (and find items), and collecting all of the Pieces of Eight to watch the fury of Tia Dalma.

Although nothing in Lego video gaming compares to the current cool strategic ground missions found in Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, fans of Capt. Jack will be humming “Yo ho, yo ho, a Lego life’s for me” late into the evening for many a night to come.

By the way, the Nintendo 3DS version ($39.99) of the game is pretty impressive with eye-popping visuals that really help define locations and puzzle points, access to more than 100 characters, and very simplistic action to appeal to younger gamers.

Also, the 3DS StreetPass option gives players a chance to select offensive and defensive moves for a pirate and when passing another 3DS owner with the Lego game, engage in a swordfight to earn experience and coins to unlock more characters.

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