Giant Bomb Review

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LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures Review

3
  • PS3
  • X360

Lego Indy is an endearing romp through the classic swashbuckling films, but the Lego gameplay's rough edges are starting to show.

It's easy to imagine a day when we're all jaded and cynical about the endless number of Lego Your-Franchise-Here titles flooding the market, but I don't think that day is here yet. Traveller's Tales--the developer behind the previous Lego Star Wars games and now Lego Indiana Jones--has figured out a workable formula for simple, kid-friendly cooperative action with light puzzle-solving elements that will remain viable for a good long while. Just add beloved franchise, stir, and serve to a willing readymade audience. To me, the Lego formula is only as entertaining as the franchises you bind to it, but luckily, Star Wars and Indiana Jones are pretty hard to dislike.

Run Indy run!
Anyone who's played one of the Lego Star Wars games will know exactly what they're getting into here, since Lego Indy is basically one of those games with different levels and characters slapped on. It represents all three of the original movies (sorry, <i>Crystal Skull</i>) with six levels each, and every level brings in the relevant story characters to plow through a bunch of enemies, collectables, and some easy environmental puzzles. In between, you can head back to the game's hub, Barnett College, to cash in some of those collectables on cheats and tons more playable characters. It's all standardized Lego action game stuff. No big surprises here.

My problem with Lego Indy isn't that it's the fourth game to get the Lego treatment in three years. It's that there are just too many elements of the gameplay that still feel clumsy and unrefined. On the surface, the game hits the right notes: you've got light-hearted brawling, some decent platforming sequences, and puzzles that don't take a lot of brain power to put together. But there are a lot of irksome aspects in the game's design. The characters' feet get little traction on the ground, so it's easy to slide right into a few pits when running through a platforming area, making you start over repeatedly. Some of the buttons have multiple contextual actions mapped to them, so you occasionally find yourself switching characters when you were trying to get into a vehicle, or hurling away an item you wanted to use instead. You can frequently get stuck in the level geometry. Sometimes your AI-controlled buddy character will disappear somewhere in the level, forcing you to run backwards until you find out where they got hung up and force them to get a move on.

I could go on. None of these little issues are a big deal on their own, but cumulatively they make the gameplay tiresome more often than I would have liked. Traveller's Tales could iron out most of the frustrating little quirks by critically evaluating the gameplay and making a few tweaks here and there. It's probably too late to apply the fixes to the upcoming Lego Batman, but this series needs some refinement if it's going to stay entertaining to discriminating gamers in the long run.

Mola Ram is displeased.
I don't want to sound too down on Lego Indiana Jones. As with all the Lego games, the thing that keeps Indy's gameplay merely a little annoying and not downright maddening is how casual the game really is. That's mainly because you have unlimited lives with no penalty for dying, so you can just button-mash your way through every level without regard for personal safety if you want. Like Star Wars before it, Indy also gets more fun after you finish it the first time through and can go back to each level in "free play" mode, which lets you instantly cycle between a bunch of characters with every ability in the game. That naturally makes it easier to get through most of the obstacles (cutting down on the frustration factor) and allows you to pick up more of the collectables you couldn't get the first time, too. Running through areas in free play with a second player is usually good for a few chuckles.

Lego Indiana Jones has enough entertainment value to make it worth running through, when you're in a casual mood. The series' trademark mirthful animated cutscenes are also in effect here, making the package a bit more endearing. After Lego Batman comes out, though, I hope Traveller's Tales takes a good look at where its Lego games are going and makes the tweaks and additions necessary to keep the franchise relevant.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
15 Comments
Posted by Armada66

Good take on it, the Lego games are a good bit of fun when playing with a mate, but i think by the time Lego Batman hits the familiar gameplay might be too much and in need of some changes.

It would have been good to see Lego Batman have a large Gotham City to drive around, stop crimes etc, but from what i've seen of it it follows the strict level by level basis of the past lego games.

Like any game that sells, the devs will keep milking the basic gameplay from one franchise to another until it stops selling, and then try and reinvent them, Tomb Raider being a good example.

Posted by OGCartman

The games i play with my little cousin .....

Posted by PixieNinja

I never thought that there were enough memorable moments in the Indy trilogy for the Lego adaptation to parody - what they did with the Star Wars games worked really well, put it pulled on the strengths of the set pieces within the movies.

I dunno, perhaps I'm just not enough of an Indy fan for this game to work as well? After all, remove the movie concept and the games are pretty much identical...

Posted by RVonE

I don't know man. The lego concept seems kind of done to me. I guess I'll try renting this first.

Posted by Joevit

My son plays this game all the time. The music is getting to me. It's for the kids, not for a 30 year old.

Posted by plumeria

I'm a year shy of 30 and have never played any of the previous LEGO games. I am enjoying this game (Wii version) quite a bit. Admittedly I have only played it for 50 minutes. It was super easy to pick up and I could see why more avid gamers would file it under 'kids games'.

Posted by L

Hmm. I enjoyed this title a lot. It did have some small annoyances but overall, I would argue this is one of my favourite games so far this year. It's fun, simple and suited for the family.

On top of that - being an Indy fan really did make it feel that extra bit special. I won't spoil it too much but there's some pretty awesome extra stuff awaiting to be unlocked. ;)

Posted by eshwaaz

I think Brad went a bit soft on this one.  The game is packed with design flaws that really should have been addressed by now - Traveller's Tales has had plenty of time to perfect this formula.  The game is decent fun, but too much of it feels rushed and phoned-in.

Posted by zegolf

Aren't they developing a whole new storyline for Lego Batman though?

I enjoyed this game.  I didn't want to go for 100% as much as I did in the original Star Wars Trilogy, but it was fun.  I played it on the Wii, thinking that the novelty of the whip would be well worth the purchase.  But I didn't buy it.  So back to Gamefly it goes after I beat it.  Fun game, if not for the gameplay, at least for the nostalgia factor.

Posted by Koopa_kid12

I really like it, it's a great example of how LEGO games should be done

Posted by zaphod121

It's fun, has some decent puzzles to solve taking good advantage of other characters.  The fighting in the game was way to simplistic.  Close your eyes and keep hitting the button, congrats you won the fight.  I hope for the next Lego game they work on the AI a little more, I'm getting tired of my "partner" character in these games knocking me off a cliff and then standing in the perfect location to make me continuously re-spawn on the same cliff ledge.  ( If you get caught in this seemingly endless loop, switch to the other player when you re-spawn).

All and all, despite it's flaws the game for some reason is fun to play.  It's nostalgic for Indy fans, and fun for kids.  Anybody can play it and have a good time, I'd give it a 3 outta 5.  (3.4 or 4 if you can wait a couple months and grab used)

I'm waiting for Lego Matrix and Lego Lord of the Rings.

Posted by Rually

I like the Lego games. But when the "Hey I'm playing as Indy" wears off, its a lot like the Star Wars games. Same problems I had with them to: Camera view and level design.

Heres hoping Lego Batman gets things ironed out.

Posted by maleagant

This game is quite a leap forward from the LEGO Star Wars games as far as graphics are concerned.
The controls are very similar, so if you played the Star Wars series, it will be easy to pick up the moves and play.

Posted by big

The demo i tested a while ago on 360 was actually quite fun. But im not focusing on buying this game. Well maybe when it gets cheaper  

Posted by Xerxes

I'm definitely getting this game when it drops to bargain bin status.