Review: Lego Indiana Jones Trilogy
Indiana Jones but trying to be all cute and funny or something.
No-one could have guessed when Lego Star Wars was originally released that it would have done so well and spawned not only a sequel but also a franchise of Lego games. And now Lego Indiana Jones seems like a natural progression of the franchise. It’s another action film series by Lucas with comedy elements which most people both know and love.
However this games faces the problem of being compared to Lego Star Wars. Initially this isn’t such a bad thing as the game is set up in much the same way. It covers the three original films and allows you to follow the story through for each one, once you’ve completed a level you are then able to go back and run through it in free mode using whichever characters you want.
You can also unlock new characters and playful cheats and blow most things that you see into thousands of Lego studs. Each individual level is lovingly crafted pastiche of some of the films most memorable scenes, and show how Traveller’s Tales really understand and care for the source material.
Whilst trying to refine the formula of the Lego games Traveller’s Tales has seemed to reach a bit of a dead end by not changing it enough. The thing with Star Wars is that is was very much an ensemble cast with many many iconic characters, with each one granted an identifiable skill. The main joy of the previous games has been playing as your favourite characters in your favourite scenes, it was never particularly in the gameplay or the level design. But Indiana Jones by it’s very nature follows the story of Indy himself, and as such you’re left using him for each level of the game. The remaining cast all look similar and the ability to quickly identify who is who is lost, it’s often difficult to see if you are controlling Marcus Brody or Salah, or Willie or Marion.
But saying that, it’s testament to the strength of character found in Indy himself that you never tire using him, the fun of seeing Lego baddies whipped off their feet when you swing your bullwhip, or in whipping Willie or Marion into a clinch with you doesn’t grow old.
The reliance on the use of Indy also means that he ends up being a jack of all trades. Now Indy uses shovels, spanners, books and hats. This kind of dilutes the effectiveness of having other characters tail you and makes the game more complex as a result. What item should I be carrying round with me, and what if I need to ditch the spanner for a shovel? Also in the Star Wars games each movie was split into simple and relatively short levels, but Indy sees a change of pace with some of the levels being upto 45 minutes long with some fairly tricky puzzle elements to them. On one particular level I must have spent 10 minutes in the first room unsure of what I actually had to do as it wasn’t signposted enough. But conversely this complexity is used well when it’s carried over into the hub level, now based at Indy’s University. This hub is both much bigger than the Mos Eisley cantina and now involves an overall puzzle element to which unlocks secrets, which works really well and gives a bit of incentive to explore the grounds.
Well there’s not a huge amount to say here even in a short two hundred word counterpoint. If you’ve ever played any of the Lego Star Wars games just recreate that experience in your mind but replace Luke with Indy and Han with Sala or Henry senior and you’re pretty much there. The mix of platform action and puzzles has been judged just about right without becoming button-bashing slogs or logic defying dead ends as there’s always a straightforward and more importantly noticeable way to progress through every section, even if you seem to be out of options.
Visually it’s no great shakes with the ‘360 and PSP versions looking and playing identically albeit in different resolutions with the same pre-rendered cut scenes and background visuals mixed with colourful Lego bricks and charactersâ€¦ which brings me to one of the few whinges I have with this game and indeed the whole Lego series do far.
The integration of the backgrounds is still a little lose and flimsy, especially with the unreliable jumping of your characters which often leads to you jumping off a bottomless cliff or piece of background without meaning to. This will often happen as you try to grab the scarce blue studs tucked away on a high ledge or platform edge leading to high levels of frustration as you lose a blue stud and more for every resurrection even those inflicted upon you because Indy refused to cling to a ledge or just plane jumped to his death. It’s not a game-breaker but if Lego Batman has the same problems I’m gonna go Bane on its ass. Ask a DC fan they’ll tell you what I mean.
Secondary Score: 7/10
This increase in size of the levels may not seem to be too bad, but I consider this type of game to be a Sunday game, one where you can dip into it for a few minutes without really thinking about it and just enjoy. But these larger levels demand more commitment from the player. Also some of the bigger levels tend to wear on you and you start to notice the flaws, which if the levels were shorter you’d just pass over like the sometimes confusing scenery and annoying leaps of faith. There are also issues with identifying with some of the larger levels, particularly from the Raiders of the Lost Ark episodes where my prevailing memory of the levels were based in a non-descript desert location. Changed too are the vehicle sections which are now the limited sections of levels which grant you full control of the vehicle.
But I don’t mean to be all harsh on this game as it has lots of enjoyable features. It’s now a much more tactile game, without the use of Force powers Indy must use his hands, fixing engines and whipping across chasms. And for each of these actions there is a decent animation, it’s remarkable how much emotion you can get out of a small plastic toy. The cutscenes are also well produced with a lot of the fun being derived from a great sense of comic timing and the twisting of your favorite scenes just enough to bring a wry smile to your face. There is the create a character mode where you can make your own avatar from the constituent Lego parts and then give it a suitable name, you can then take your new creation into any of the levels you’ve unlocked in free play. This game also has the drop in drop out co-op mode whereby anyone can pick up the second controller and join you in whichever level you are playing, however there isn’t an online co-op mode which is a loss.
The Lego formula has struggled to adapt to a new film franchise. Whilst all the constituent parts are there, infinite lives, comedy, forgiving difficulty, it just misses that certain spark. It’s a shame really as you would have thought Indy would be a perfect match for the Lego franchise, but instead it asks questions about how much more Traveller’s Tales can milk out of the Lego franchise.