Lego: Pirates of the Caribbean preview
Remember the middle ages, where lopping off your enemy's head was a good way to spend an afternoon? Lego: Pirates of the Carribbean makes decapitation fun again. When little Lego Jack Sparrow has his little Lego head sliced from his little Lego body by a little Lego sword, his little Lego hands go straight to his little Lego neck-hole. It's the cutest example of horrible murder I've ever seen.
Traveller's Tales' minifig (the correct term for little Lego men, apparently) version of Captain Jack is perfect. The developers have managed to capture the soul of of Johnny Depp's Sparrow in a wedge of yellow plastic and some stubby legs, injecting him with the same swagger as his movie counterpart. As in previous Lego games, he's not alone in his adventures: there's a range of playable minifigs to make up a party. They include Mackenzie Crook's wooden-eyed pirate, and Orlando Bloom – who'd I'd never noticed actually looks like a Lego man in real life until just now.
Flitting between control of these characters is fundamental to the game's cheerful puzzles, all based on events from the series of films. The example I was shown came straight from Dead Man's Chest (the second film, for the pirate-phobic), and saw Depp and Bloom encased by cannibals in globes made of bone. After careening down a hillside in a section that played like a 2D platformer, the player gets dumped at the bottom, free from their macabre prison. From there, they need to get across a broken bridge. And so to puzzling. Using Jack's compass lets you find buried Lego blocks, but to extract the bricks from the ground, you need a dog. There's a dog nearby, but he's indifferent to your plight – you need to convince him with a boney treat. Where do you get a bone? Why, that giant pile of bones that you're sat in might be worth searching.
With the dog on-board, the bridge can be built, leading over to more Lego bricks, which in turn allow the construction of a climbing wall that boosts the party – Jack, Will, dog and chum – up to the next section of the game. There are five stages for each movie - the inclusion of the yet-to-be-released fourth film as a setting takes the total up to twenty.
Lego-ifying everything makes more sense in the ramshackle world of Disney's Pirates than it did in the developers' previous Indiana Jones titles – dull sand and rock has given way to artfully constructed pirate ships and squalid (as Lego gets) port towns. The effect imbues Lego: Pirates with a gentle, logical charm.