Building Blocks + Classic Movie Trilogies = Good Ol' Family Fun
By now you are probably aware of the Lego phenomenon. Take one part great movie classic, and introduce one part fun, lovable construction toy. These games have taken the gaming industry by storm. Going from “Hey that looks like it might be interesting,” to “What will be the next Lego-ized IP?” (Batman) The simple fact is, like them or not, Lego games are here to stay. After the monumental success of the Star Wars games, Indiana Jones was the next logical step. Who doesn’t love the grail seeking adventure of Last Crusade, or the timeless and regularly copied boulder chase from Raiders? Well now you get to relive those and most of the other memorable scenes from the trilogy. Lego Indiana Jones: the Original Adventures takes you through all of the events from the trilogy in that same kooky and silent formula that made the other games so fun. (I suppose it might be worth mentioning that the new movie is not included in this game)
This title sees Indy through his original adventures in all their glory, sans a few key scenes to maintain their ESRB rating to be sure. Those hoping for the classic face melting and heart ripping will be sadly left wanting. Other then that however, the game does a great job letting you relive the classic trilogy. The level environments are wonderfully done and the addition of the complete original music makes you really feel like part of the action. They add a particularly nice touch for the level loading screen which shows you the traversed path between level locations on a map just like in the movies. Indy and the cast have impressively well detailed movement animations that really go a long way in a silent game. They even go as far as to showcase a new character phobia mechanic where certain characters have these fears of certain things, like Indy and snakes. These fears force you to find other avenues to help get frightened characters across perilous paths. This adds a new layer of dynamic realism that helps get that complete movie adaptation across. A throwing mechanic has also been added, since we can’t all have force push powers. This mechanic is pretty spot on and includes an auto targeting feature so you can easily hurl a sword through a rope to gain access to a special area.
Much like Star Wars, this title features different class types where certain characters possess certain abilities. This time around, the classes are much more robust. Abilities include an explosives expert who is essential in destroying certain types of Lego blocks to gain access to otherwise inaccessible areas, a glyph reader who can use his blue book to decipher secret messages on the walls, female characters who can jump higher then any other character and some are even able to break glass with their screams of peril, and of course Indy himself whose specialties with a whip allow you to manipulate certain environments. The shorter characters return as well to help you through the game along with run of the mill gunmen. Helping you to identify when special characters are needed, the game provides a small glowing patch of ground to indicate there is an interactive aspect near. This is also especially useful when using ropes. The ropes and vines produce a small circle of light to help you determine exactly where in the environment they are. Though this feature doesn’t make up for the terrible camera, (this is the next generation here and every game should have a player controlled camera environment!) it does help a little with prospective problems.
A fixed camera is not the only problem that plagues this recent trip down the Lego aisle. Fans of the genre will note that the game still lacks in the playing time department. Sure there are a few (Three) bonus levels out there but that only brings the total up to 21, a far cry away from the standards these days. You are also going to miss that lightsaber in combat situations. Indy sports a newly revamped fighting system and though it is nice to look at, comes across more cumbersome then anything else. This is mainly due to everyone else having a gun and you left with a whip. Sure it is cool to fling your whip around, but let me tell you, your whip isn’t going to scare those bullets flying towards you! The frustration of this system becomes overwhelmingly clear when you continually find yourself being shot by someone off screen. And don’t look to your AI controlled counterpart for help, the only thing he or she will be good for is stunning a foe momentarily. The baddies always go for player one first, as apposed to the most prominent threat. This is due to poor AI programming or an attempt at throwing all the action at the player, you decide. If you are fighting with one of three guys, the other one or two will work on your counterpart (it is sort of like a dance seeing as neither one ever gets killed) then immediately following the demise of the foe you were working on, the others steer their attention away from your buddy and set sights on you. You have to wonder why the developer chose this almost infantile form of combat tactics. That doesn’t equal out to an enjoyable experience. Throw in a few annoying puzzles, not all of them mind you just a few, and you will have an idea of what aspects this game falls short in.
If you thoroughly enjoyed the other branches in the Lego family tree, this one is sure to add an afternoon of excitement in your family home. It is nice to see how they can shake up their formula to incorporate different styles of gameplay specifically for different movie adaptations. Even though some aspects are bad, overall the game is still improving on the original foundations. Taking the limitations aside and looking past the obvious “milking the cash cow” routine, this game really is fun and the only thing that truly hurts it is that it is so dang short. One long afternoon is all you need to see everything it has to offer. Luckily they throw in a few bonus levels and characters, stretching it out to two afternoons. Maybe. Regardless, true fans of the growing phenomenon that is lego-ized IPs will no doubt be completely satisfied with this new addition and at a discounted price, it defiantly isn’t the worst game you could buy.
6 out of 10 > "Fun" (I use a 10 point sytem but Giant Bomb uses a 5 Star system so I suppose this equals out to a 3)