Review by horror_spooky
Adventure! Excitement! George Lucas! Legos!
When Lego Star Wars was released, it was fresh, and it was new. Soon after, the Lego franchise exploded on video game consoles, and we were treated to a horrible sequel, Lego Star Wars II. And then we got Lego Indiana Jones. With the exception of the Lego Star Wars games (the franchise also includes Harry Potter, Rock Band, and Batman), Lego Indiana Jones 2 is a rare sequel in the series. When the franchise basically banks on new characters to provide new gameplay segments and such in each game, how in the hell do they pull of a sequel without feeling like a hopeless rehash? Well, with Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, they managed to pull it off, and they did it way better than how they did the Star Wars sequel.
The Adventure Continues features the basic Lego gameplay we've come to know and love. You walk around, preferrably with a partner in co-op, and destroy nearly everything you see. You collect coins, solve puzzles, and scour the levels for hidden secrets. You unlock a ton of characters, and at the end of the day, you come away relatively satisfied. Lego Indiana Jones 2 mixes things up a little bit, though, and that's what makes this game just feel fresh enough to warrant it as a successful title.
For example, a HUGE improvement has been made to the co-op. Taking notes from games like The Warriors from last generation, Indiana Jones 2 utilizes a unique split-screen mechanic. While you are close to your partner, the game remains same-screen co-op. However, as you move apart from each other and start exploring, the game switches to split-screen. It depends on your position in the level whether the game is a horizontal split-screen or a vertical split-screen, and the game constantly adjusts the split to maximize convenience for the players. This is a brilliant, an absolutely brilliant, gameplay mechanic that many other games should replicate. It relieves a lot of the headaches and cheap deaths associated with the series.
A negative change has been made, however. Instead of utilizing a basic hub world like the other games in the series, Indiana Jones 2 tries to blend the hub worlds into the levels. The result is a slightly confusing system that hampers the gameplay and puts a decent-sized dent in the prospect of replayability, one of the more bankable aspects of the Lego games. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And certainly don't ruin it.
Indiana Jones 2 introduces a new level-building mechanic to the series as well. You can create your own levels to play through, and it's surprisingly entertaining. There are a decent amount of options available, and while it's certainly not nearly as expansive as a game like LittleBigPlanet, it's a valiant effort and it works well enough. Still, with the Lego name, you'd think that a level-builder would be a lot better, and there is still a lot of room for expansion with this aspect of the series, and it's certainly not perfect by any means.
The original Lego Indiana Jones was released at roughly the same time as the new movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. As a result, all of the Indiana Jones movies were represented except for the newest one. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull levels in Lego Indiana Jones 2 are the most interesting, but the levels based on the other films, kind of like a "deleted scenes" from the original game, aren't boring at all, which is surprising. Even if you reached 100% in the first game, you'll still find plenty of do in this sequel.
The Lego games are known for their charm and comedic style, parodying the films they imitate. Lego Indiana Jones 2 retains this style, and while there's less to showcase due to a decent chunk of the game featuring content from films already covered, it still works fine. The cut-scenes are funny and cute, and I'd like to see more of them in future Lego games, if at all possible.
It's no Mass Effect, but the graphics in Lego Indiana Jones 2 aren't bad, and they work. The destruction in the levels and the water effects are major highlights, not to mention that the game runs as smooth as stone. You won't encounter many technical problems, and while occasionally the camera can be a problem, it's nothing you can't deal with, and it's significantly better than older games in the series.
If there's any movie soundtrack that can get you excited for some adventuring, it's the music featured in the Indiana Jones games. The classic Indy theme is featured in full-force in this sequel, along with all the cute little Lego sound effects that add a surprising amount of artistic depth to the games. You won't be disappointed by the audio quality in this title, and that's for sure.
Lego Indiana Jones 2 can be completed in roughly six hours if you just run through the game, but if you take the time to unlock everything and go for all the achievements, that'll add another good ten hours on top of that. Plus the co-op adds a lot of replayability, especially since you can play the game in co-op online and offline in split-screen. I really wished the achievements were more original though, and the things that should have added a lot of replayability (the character creator and the level builder) aren't expansive enough to compete with other games this generation with similar features.
Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues maintains the status quo set by the older games in the Lego series. It won't blow any minds any time soon, but it's solid. You'll find a lot to love, especially if you're a fan of the series, and there are enough changes and new features to make the adventure feel fresh enough from the original to not make it a total bomb. Hopefully we see huge strides in the series soon, but if they keep releasing solid titles like this, we shouldn't have to worry about the franchise getting too stale in the near future.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (US, 11/17/09)
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