LEGO Indiana Jones Review
Written : Tuesday, June 10, 2008
By: Lee Abrahams (GT: jackanape)
When the idea first came about for the Lego Star Wars games, a few eyebrows must have been raised, but anyone who has spent even a little time with that series will know that the gamble has well and truly paid off. Taking such an iconic film series and filling it with tongue in cheek humour and a few sly digs made it a treat to play, not forgetting the fact that in an age of big budget games and easy on the eye graphics, they had made something that just oozed good old-fashioned fun. What next after such success, well how about another successful trilogy in the form of Indiana Jones? The series was a little less family friendly than Star Wars though so it was going to be interesting how they turned Indy’s adventures into a more tongue in cheek affair. After all one of the films had a guy removing people's hearts for goodness sake, not exactly family friendly viewing. That being said, this was one of those trilogies that a lot of us have grown up watching and if they didn’t do it justice there were going to be a lot of disgruntled fans out there.
Still onboard for the ride are Traveller's Tales who, despite all of their Lego related success, have never really been quite as effective in any other genre. Considering the great job they’ve done with the Lego franchises so far (Bionicle excepting) we’re inclined to forgive them however, as long as they keep producing high quality franchises like this. With the new Indy film just hitting the cinema the time was right for a tie-in game, and focusing on the original trilogy ensures it’s not just a cheap cash in either as they have a lot of back story to cover and fans to appease. With the Lego games always striving to deliver fun, first and foremost it’s a refreshing attitude to have, and one that isn’t necessarily at the expense of crisp visuals and a lengthy gaming experience either. With just a few levels of this game under your belt you’ll be impressed with how much humour they are able to wring out of those little blocks of plastic, and all of the characters are superb representations of their real life counterparts
It’s (whip) cracking good fun.
For starters I’ll just sit on the menu screen for a second and savour that amazing Indy theme, as it’s the perfect introduction and one that instantly makes you feel at home. Jump into a game and you’ll then be hit with another moment of nostalgia as you see the traditional Indy map highlighting your trek across the globe. From the off, the presentation is top draw and everything slots into place exactly how you would expect it to, all the little touches that you remember from the films are present and correct so you get the feeling that you’re in for a truly authentic experience. The very first cut-scene serves up a fine example of what you’ll come to expect as it takes an iconic Indy trek through the jungle and turns it into a slapstick farce with our hero blissfully unaware of the carnage taking place around him. Seeing so many action packed and serious moments from the trilogy given such a wonderful twist is part of the reason you’ll keep on playing, and you’ll never feel the urge to skip past them either as they are genuinely funny for the most part. The central hub for all of the levels and character creation is Indy’s college and you can spend plenty of time wandering around the halls looking for even more secrets and checking out your statistics for each adventure. It’s this attention to detail that makes this game a delight to play.
Hopping into the game itself you’ll also notice that a friend can tag along with the drop in/out feature, meaning that they can join or leave at any point. Playing solo will mean you can switch between the two available characters at will so that you have access to both of their skills. The real struggle in co-op mode is stopping it from devolving into you just beating each other into tiny blocks and laughing hilariously. Once you decide to play properly, the game itself is a simple enough state of affairs as you have to solve a number of puzzles and defeat enemies in order to progress. It never really gets more complicated than that, though some puzzles may take the form of mine cart rides or boss encounters for example. Despite the simplicity of it all though it never seems to get boring as there is always a lot going on and the levels are superbly varied, which is what you’d expect considering Indy’s globe hopping antics. Playing as Indy, you can use his whip to disarm enemies, swing across gaps or just reduce your foes to a heap of bricks, his partner will also have a similar skill such as being able to fix objects or shriek like a banshee. Using these skills is the key to solving the variety of puzzles on offer and ensuring your progress. Completing each level will allow you to play it again in Free Play, allowing you to bring back newly unlocked characters in order to access secret areas that weren’t available to you the first time around.
Plastic elephant, the ONLY way to travel.
As you would expect from the world’s foremost archaeologist there is plenty of hidden booty on offer, and most of the challenge and replayability comes in finding every last scrap that you can. Each level has ten hidden artifacts and a hidden parcel, and it will take a nice mix of skills and characters to hunt them all down. You’ll often have to replay a level to get all the treasure with just the right combination of characters that will only be available as you get further along in the game, it means that you’ll be missing quite a lot on your first run through. Don’t get disheartened though as nothing is too well hidden that you’ll be running around in circles for hours searching for it. Grabbing the hidden artifacts unlocks new areas in the college for you to explore, and mailing the extra parcels unlocks a number of cheats for you to buy that can greatly ease your experience. As ever, you’ll pick up a vast quantity of Lego studs on your way through each level which can then be used to buy extra characters, hints and cheats. Plus nabbing a certain value of studs in each level is needed to become a True Adventurer and head towards 100% completion.
It’s hard to criticise this game because it’s such a great slice of pure entertainment. If you’ve played another Lego game before though it will seem far too familiar with the only major changes on offer being the fact it’s Indy rather than Han Solo etc. All of the puzzles and action have been seen before so despite the fact the humour seems fairly original. At the end of the day, you can’t help but feel that it’s just a variation on a theme. While the graphics are fairly cute and low budget, they are never going to be world beaters, so if your first bite is with the eye then this is never going to float your boat. Most people should be able to look past the basic exterior and see the charm within but they may balk at the fact you can run through the main game in a few short hours as it doesn't pose that great a challenge. The real longevity is offered by all of collectibles available and the fact levels will often require multiple attempts to grab them all, so for those that hate scouring every last corner for that last relic, this will soon get old fast.
The cut-scenes are works of genius.
As with previous Lego titles this game is a nice mix of obvious level completion tasks achievements along with a few more arduous challenges involving performing certain actions (e.g. disarming enemies, building blocks or swinging over gaps). Don’t be fooled into thinking 1,000 will be a walk in the park though as, despite the removal of achievements requiring you to complete EVERY level without dying, you’re still expected to survive at least one. You’ll also have to find all of the hidden artefacts and characters, plus grab a ton of studs to buy all the secrets and cheats. All of which will contribute towards the grand goal of 100% completion. Not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination and even with a good guide you are looking at multiple plays of each level and upwards of twenty hours to get everything done. I must also say that all of the achievements are pretty much direct quotes from the film and will raise a smile or two, so imaginative titling for the win.
This is gaming at its gloriously uncomplicated best and offers a fun filled challenge while never bothering to take itself too seriously. Everything you would expect to see in an Indy game is present and correct with an added twist of wicked humour and irreverent cut-scenes. It’s nice to see that someone can set out to make a game that is flat out entertaining and succeed so whole heartedly. It really does the Indy films justice and is a great game to play solo or co-op for some brick bashing fun. If you’ve played the other Lego games then this will be nothing you haven’t seen before as the puzzles and difficulty will be very familiar. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a rehash of what has gone before though as it’s worth playing for the story alone and, despite what you may think, can offer a good twenty odd hours of gaming if you dedicate yourself to unearthing all of the hidden treasures on offer and when a game is this addictive, why wouldn’t you?
Worth booting up just to hear the superb theme music alone, plus all the familiar sounds and effects in game. The characters are mute, which is a shame, but just adds to the character.
It’s never going to compete with the big guns, but why would you want it to. You’ll be amazed just how much comedy, charm and emotion they can wring out of these bricks though with all the characters (and more) brought to life superbly.
Pure gold, and a thoroughly enjoyable experience from start to finish. The levels and puzzles will never be taxing but just you try and stop that smile from creeping across your face. Throw in a co-op mode that lets you beat up your partner and the fun just kicks up another notch.
A great Indy game and one that will likely never be bettered, all of the major scenes have been brought to life with real verve and will always raise a chuckle. The music, locations and humour are spot on, and sometimes even better than you remember.
A fairly standard list that is brought to life by some great titles and a few interesting and tricky challenges. The 100% completion is likely to be the only one that causes you much bother though, but even that will fall given enough time.
I was worried that this game would dumb down the Indy films for the kids to enjoy but I needn’t have bothered as it doesn’t leave anything out and spares no punches in mocking what made the series great in the first place. To be fair you need to have seen the films to enjoy a lot of what takes place, but unless you’ve been living under a rock, that won’t be much of a pre-requisite. Grab a friend and sit back and enjoy the show – fortune and glory kid.