Review by horror_spooky

Reviewed: 10/08/08

Playing with Legos is fun again

Two years ago, I played the original Lego Star Wars game on my friend’s computer and had an absolute blast with the game. In fact, I had so much fun with the title that I went out and bought it on my PlayStation 2 the next day. I completed the game 100% and was left dying for more, but when the sequel, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy was released, I felt scorned. I mean, the developers had ruined a practically bullet-proof concept with some god-awful design decisions, and as such, I have been weary of Lego Indiana Jones, fearing that it would end up to be a disappointing mess like its predecessor was. Fortunately, the developers have renewed their series and I think that the Lego games still have a chance at being absolute classics.

One huge thing about Lego Star Wars II that I hated was having to constantly go to these freaking helmet dispensers to get through some doors. This drove me absolutely nuts since all it created was pointless backtracking and plenty of cheap deaths, causing you to lose any hope of reaching the coin goal of that level, plus making you want to put the game down all together. Thankfully, this has been rectified in Lego Indiana Jones by giving you the ability to take hats or whatever disguise you need from destroyed enemies. Since the game will provide a constant stream of enemies whenever you are in a situation like this, backtracking is completely eliminated, which is great for a game like this.

Continuing on, Lego Indiana Jones also fixes another huge flaw that Lego Star Wars II had and that flaw was that almost immediately after you hopped onto an animal, you were blasted to pieces. Since Lego Indiana Jones focuses more on puzzles than insane (and rather annoying in Lego Star Wars II’s case) combat, walking around with the local wildlife isn’t as much of a hassle before. You are given the opportunity to ride animals like camels, horses, and elephants—of course, they’ll all in Lego form as well.

Animals aren’t the only thing you’ll be able to commandeer in Lego Indiana Jones. Motorcycles, trucks, cars, and an airplane can be built or stolen in order to drive around, destroy things, roll over enemies, or even solve some puzzles. Motorcycles can do a wheelie to gain some extra speed while the plane can fire machineguns. The vehicles don’t control all that great (they’re nearly as bad as the vehicle controls in Mass Effect), but they provide a break from the action and keep things from getting boring. Sadly, these segments are very few and far between and it feels like the developers just slapped them on there as an afterthought instead of truly integrating them into the title.

What I hated the most about Lego Star Wars II was the huge focus on blaster action as opposed to light saber duels. The reason this was such a huge problem was that the Lego Star Wars games focused too much on large battles, but since Indiana Jones scales back a bit, it’s okay that most of the combat is by firearms. Machineguns, shotguns, magnums and more are available and can be picked up from enemies.

With the previous games in the series, there were a variety of characters for you to use, but with Lego Indiana Jones, they take the concept to the next level. Indiana Jones is unique in that he can use his whip to trip enemies, cross gaps, and solve puzzles. Other characters have access to things like shovels and books, used to similar effects.

Melee combat, the highlight of the Lego games, has added a few moves to use. Besides tripping enemies with Indy’s whip, you will now pull off different kinds of combos by just mashing on the buttons. For example, you can make some of the characters do dropkicks and others backdrop enemies. Oh yeah, and the game totally pulls a Dead Rising in the way that there are a TON of things in the environment that you can use as a weapon. From glass bottles to chairs to swords, there is a lot at your disposal to break bricks with.

However, everyone knows that the true heart and soul of the Lego games is going around destroying everything that you lay eyes on. Indiana Jones is no different and you will be destroying plenty of Lego objects. Every Lego object in the environment can be completely destroyed, providing you with plenty of coins used to buy things like characters and extras.

Another interesting new feature that is sort of downplayed is that the character’s personalities are shown in the game by the means of playing on their various phobias. Everyone that has seen the movies knows that Indiana Jones is afraid of snakes, so when you’re playing as Indy and you walk by a snake, he will cower in fear and became basically useless. That is, until another character comes along and destroys the snake. The same goes for Willie and spiders—I found this to be a cool gameplay mechanic that was just not used to its full potential.

Lego Indiana Jones spans the first three movies in the series, so it’s a little disappointing that the latest movie isn’t included. On top of that, the games totally leave out some of the best part of the movies, which just made me scratch my head. If you’re unfamiliar with the Indiana Jones universe, you will find yourself missing out on a whole lot of what the story in Lego Indiana Jones provides, and the same goes for if you haven’t seen the Star Wars movies because there are plenty of nods in that direction also. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Indiana Jones is an explorer who has goes on quests to find various treasures. Sounds simple enough, but the movies really pushed this concept to excellence. If you’ve had the chance to play the Lego Star Wars games, you will know that the story is presented in a manner like a parody.

All the Legos look good, but the effect that they had back when the first Lego Star Wars game was released has faded. I mean, it’s still cool to watch all the Lego objects in the environment get smashed to oblivion, but the idea is getting stale and needs some serious revamping. The water doesn’t look that great, sometimes the environment manages to pull off some slick textures, but besides that, the graphical presentation is pretty below par. On top of that, there are some pretty irritating frame rate issues (especially during cut-scenes), the occasional glitches, and some freezing—problems that just weren’t present with the game’s predecessors.

Back on the good side of things, the musical scores from the Indiana Jones movies are pretty great to listen to, but not the greatest in the world. I mean, after the greatness that is the Star Wars musical score in the other games, Lego Indiana Jones didn’t have a chance of surpassing them. No voice acting adds to the humor of the game but also means that there isn’t really anything else to enjoy. The sound of the Legos getting destroyed and the sweet sound effects that pop out when you collect a hidden treasure are pros though, so overall the audio presentation is decent; not great, but decent.

Now here is where Lego Indiana Jones truly shines. After you complete the game, you will still have a ton of stuff to do. You can play through each level on Free Play mode to find hidden treasures, collect a certain amount of coins, and find packages that can be used to unlock even more extras. On top of that, there are a ton of characters to unlock, there are achievements, there are tons of secrets, there is a trailer for the upcoming Lego Batman included, PLUS the co-op is so much fun that you wouldn’t mind blasting through the game with others. The main campaign spans six decently long levels with some pretty challenging puzzles sprinkled throughout, and while the previous games were pretty short, your first time going through Lego Indiana Jones will last you eight hours. I’m not saying that’s really all that long, but it’s definitely an improvement from the previous titles.

I am so happy that the Lego game franchise has been saved from death with this great title. I had very little hope for the series after the travesty that was Lego Star Wars II, but Lego Indiana Jones fixes pretty much all of the problems that title presented, adds on some extra replayability, and manages to bring the fun back to the series. Unfortunately, some graphical mishaps and minor control issues are present, but there isn’t anything you can’t push through. Hopefully, Lego Batman rectifies these mistakes and manages to provide an experience even better than Lego Indiana Jones. Time will only tell.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (US, 06/03/08)

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