Review: LEGO Indiana Jones

At first glance, a LEGO Indiana Jones game seems like the next and nearest logical step after Star Wars, also coming from the house of Lucas. However, one of Hollywood’s most beloved adventures does contain some outrageous action, and smart humor that can transfer well over to a videogame, even one made of LEGO. And while there are plenty of laughs and moments of nostalgia to be had along the way, they aren’t always enough to make anyone forget about the sometimes repetitive and dragging gameplay that can be found. LEGO Indy certainly isn’t a terrible game, but it doesn’t exactly deserve the status of being a “sequel” to the LEGO Star Wars series.

The game of course let’s you select any film from the trilogy (well, I guess it’s a quadrilogy now) at the onset: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, or Last Crusade. Each of these sections contains about an hour or two of playing time and brings all the events of the original Indy movies you remember most, as well as expanding upon them with new areas. The good thing is it never strays too far from the narrative, and manages to remain true to the series while making the storylines appropriate for all ages (no heart ripping).

Like LEGO Star Wars, Indy marks a return to cooperative driven action platforming by allowing you to switch between characters using the triangle or Y button, or if you want some human accompaniment, a second player can join in at any time. As you progress through Indy’s adventures, you’ll find that a number of in-game puzzles require two players to solve. Another way that players will have to depend on one another is character phobias, such as Indy’s fear of snakes. In areas containing a pest one character can’t stand, you’ll have to get someone else to clear the way. Most of the other puzzles consist of the usual task of finding cases containing LEGO pieces, and put them together to build bridges, levers, or car engines. The only problem with these is that you’ll be presented with the same three or four different tests throughout all three storylines, and by the time you reach the last film, things can start to get a bit boring.

The combat suffers from the same problem in that it’s so incredibly simplistic, only involving a basic attack with the square or X button, and throwing objects or using special abilities with the circle or B button. And with moves such as making Willy Scott scream, Indy is really the only one with a special ability that’s fun to use, that being the whip. Not only can you use it to swing across gaps, grab nearby objects, but it can also serve as a good weapon to trip up enemies.

Some other weapons are available from fallen adversaries such as guns or swords, but for the most part the game feels like it was designed mainly with Indy’s traits in mind, and the other characters are there because of the series trademark of being able to play as everyone. There are numerous boss battles thrown into the mix, the majority of them are to be beaten by throwing objects from the environment, amounting to little departure from the regular combat. Luckily there are certain sections that stand out, usually involving the use of vehicles which recreate some of the most intense moments from the films, and take you away from the regular block building mechanics.

Let’s also not forget the collecting element of the games, like the real LEGO hobby itself. There are tons of treasure items and artifacts to be found on each level, and all of them can be reviewed by visiting Indy’s day job at Barnet College. Here you’ll get to relive the game’s cutscenes in the campus theater, purchase other LEGO characters, and even customize one of your own. There are a vast number of characters and items to unlock, since just completing the storyline is only 44% of the game, and it’s what will keep most people traversing the same levels again in Free Play mode to gather new items with characters possessing the right skills to get them. Sadly, you won’t get to do this online, as the game’s co-op mode is restricted to local play, which is just unacceptable given how enjoyable these games can be with a friend.

Being a LEGO game, Indy obviously isn’t going to have graphics to rival Metal Gear Solid 4, but the presentation is top notch. The developers at Traveller’s Tales have worked their magic yet again by visually integrating the LEGO brand with the popular film franchise, and take just the right amount of liberties to make it work. All of the characters look clean and the animations are pretty fluid for people made out of plastic. Each have a good have a good degree of personality, such as Dr. Jones, Sr. rubbing his back every time you make him lift a box of blocks. The environments themselves are all well lit, detailed, and very respectable to film locations, such as Pancot Palace, the Jungles of Central America, and Venice itself.

Although none of the characters actually speak any real dialog, the mumbles they do utter are funny, and get the basic yet hilarious humor across. All of you Star Wars fans can expect a few cute little references to Indiana’s sister series as well. When it comes to the music, you can do no better than the near perfect inclusion of John William’s famous score, with nearly every track from the films found in the game. That classic theme song we’ve all hummed at one time or another is a crucial part of any Indiana Jones experience, and it is fully represented here.

In the end, Traveller’s Tales deserves to be commended on making another solid LEGO game, and a proper representation of the Indiana Jones universe that is very charming. The only problem is that the change of setting is the best thing that the game has going for it, and does nothing to really push the series forward or into any fresh gameplay directions. It is fun, but that doesn’t last for the entire length of the game due to the repetitive puzzles and mediocre combat, with the exception of playing Indy himself. The game will most likely satisfy both the LEGO and Indiana Jones demographics, but anyone heading in expecting to find some actual new mechanics will be disappointedly met with more of a Lucasfilm expansion to the series. Hopefully we’ll be getting a bit more of an upgrade with LEGO Batman.

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