LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures - Review
By Rory - June 7, 2008
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii
Grab your whip and fedora, this is one adventure game you won't want to miss.
The LEGO Star Wars series has been a pretty big hit among gamers since its debut in 2005. The comedic retelling of the Star Wars films, in LEGO form, along with plenty of fun and innovative gameplay has attracted gamers of all ages. Three games later, Traveller's Tales has decided it's time to move on to another franchise. This time they've set their sights on another LucasArts title- Indiana Jones. Let me first start by saying that I'm a huge Indiana Jones fan and to be honest I wasn't expecting much of this game. It left me pleasantly surprised during some parts, and a bit frustrated during many others. The gameplay in LEGO Indiana Jones is pretty much identical to LEGO Star Wars, with a few tweaks and improvements here and there. The visuals for the PS3 and Xbox 360 version are pretty good, with some great level designs reminiscent of the Indy films. The audio is pretty lacking but some classic tunes from the movies definitely give it a boost. The story is basically a retelling of all three movies, with some obvious changes along the way. Overall, it's a great game with only a few unresolved issues holding it back. If you're an Indiana Jones fan, this is definitely something you'll enjoy.
The visuals are surprisingly pretty good. The graphics themselves aren't all that impressive but they're pretty nice for the most part and they are easy to look at. The best part about this game, in terms of visuals, is the stage design. Plenty of classic sets from the Indiana Jones movies are featured, which fans will really appreciate. Most of them have been greatly expanded to make for longer gameplay segments, but they've definitely done a good job of capturing the feel of the movies in each level. My only complaint is that a few of the blander sections can drag on a bit, which obviously brings down the gameplay. I'll get to that later. Speaking in technical terms, the game certainly has its shortcomings. The texture design is pretty weak and several errors such as character clipping and plenty of other graphical glitches are abundant throughout the game. Most of the time it just seems to me like the developers got lazy and didn't think the kids would notice. One huge issue is the screen tearing- it's everywhere and it doesn't stop. It's a bit less noticeable when you're in the larger outdoor environments, but when that camera gets up close everything falls apart. You have the option of turning on V-Sync which does help a bit, but that in turn causes the framerate to take a nosedive. I opted for the screen tearing. The normal framerate is pretty good and I didn't notice any real slowdown; none that hindered the gameplay, anyway. Overall the visuals can seem like a weak attempt to some, but they're not bad by any means and Indy fans will definitely appreciate the familiar surroundings.
What am I doing, this thing is made of plastic!
The audio in the game is a bit of a mixed bag. The music is great at times and terrible at others. While you're exploring or puzzle solving, the music is fantastic. Classic Indy music at it's finest. When the action picks up, everything goes downhill. The fight music is extremely irritating and only makes the combat more frustrating. In the movie it's fine because you're concentrating on the film and watching the action unfold. When you're forced to listen to it loop over and over while trying to deal with a horde of enemies, you'll find yourself yelling at the T.V. to shut up. Another big complaint I had with the music is its terrible use of the Indiana Jones theme. It used it at all the wrong times and fans will find themselves saying “come on, don't play this now”. Maybe that isn't a huge deal for most, but it was definitely a drawback for me.
The sound effects are all simple and unrealistic, but when playing a game about LEGOs, that's to be expected. There's also not a very wide variety of them, unfortunately. The sound effect for the whip is good, but most of the time you'll just be hearing clumps of LEGOs exploding and busting apart. There are sound effects for the fighting and the guns and stuff, but again there's not much to them. Nothing spectacular and certainly nothing that stands out.
One pretty big disappointment for me was that there was absolutely no voice acting. All the “talking” is handled via a series of grunts and groans. This makes it a bit hard to follow the story, but more on that later.
The game is split up into three separate parts, each one retelling one of the movies. It does so somewhat accurately, however there are some obvious changes that have been made. The gameplay segments are obviously much different from what you see in the movies because otherwise, each stage would be pretty short. Instead of walking through a couple traps and reaching the end, there's going to be a lot more platforming, puzzle solving and overcoming obstacles, most of which doesn't take place in the films. In between the action are short thirty second cutscenes which re-enact several scenes from the movies. These have also been changed around and are now more humorous and kid-friendly. There are no Nazi references, face melting or heart ripping, but they do a good job of presenting a family oriented alternative. The only problem is that because there's no dialogue whatsoever, you're not going to understand what's going on unless you've seen the movies. The cutscenes serve more as reminders to those who have seen the films as to what part you're currently at, but they definitely don't explain the story. If you're going to play this game, make sure you've seen the movies first as you'll get much more enjoyment out of it. Overall it's a decent retelling of the three stories, and while each one has clearly been tailored towards younger audiences, fans of the series will still be able to appreciate the humor.
I've got a bad feeling about this.
The gameplay in the LEGO Star Wars games has always been pretty fun and has provided a lot of fun and interesting gameplay mechanics. LEGO Indiana Jones is no different. There's platforming, puzzle solving, LEGO collecting and plenty of combat. Fortunately, most of it is good but it still has it's downsides. First off, each level is broken up into different stages and the stages are broken up into different areas. What you'll be doing most of the time is smashing things apart in the environment and collecting the little LEGO pieces that fly out. White pieces are worth 10, gold pieces are worth 100 and blue pieces are worth 1000. The basic goal is to collect as many of these as possible before you reach the end of the stage. With those you can purchase other characters and unlockables, most of which are worth collecting. There are also hidden artifacts to find, which are scattered throughout each stage. There are ten in each one and they're all pretty well hidden. Either that or they're unobtainable during the first playthrough because you don't have the right character to reach it. Collecting all 10 from each stage will present you with a completed artifact. You're then given a large LEGO bonus for finding them all. Now, before you start thinking that this is just another kiddy 'run around and collect things' game, let me say that this only makes up one portion of what you'll be doing during each stage. LEGO Indiana Jones, unlike the Star Wars series, focuses a bit more heavily on adventuring, which for me was a good thing. In some areas you'll be moving along a set path, jumping on platforms and fighting enemies. Then you'll come to the next area where you'll have to stop and solve a series of smaller puzzles in order to open up a gate or roll out a bridge or something. The good thing about all this is it adds a lot of diversity to each stage and it saves the game from being another repetitive action-platformer.
Now, the actual gameplay elements themselves are good for the most part. Platforming can be fun and jumping across caverns and swinging from vines really gives you the feel of playing through an Indiana Jones movie. The only problem I had with some of it was that many platforming segments were a little too difficult. Some required a lot of speed and precision when making your way across the obstacles, but the controls in this game just don't allow for that. Nothing is so hard that you won't be able to get past it, but it can be pretty frustrating when they want to you jump and land on a small area and you just can't seem to get Indy to go where you want him to. The camera doesn't help things either, as indoor segments usually provide you with a pretty bad angle which can make it hard to tell exactly how far you'll need to jump.
The puzzle segments are actually a lot of fun and require a bit more thinking than you'd expect. Each puzzle area will require you to do a bunch of little things that lead up to you being able to proceed. For example, you'll have to break open a box and build a ladder from the pieces (all you have to do to build is hold a single button and everything is automatically assembled) and then climb to a higher area. From there you grab a piece of a broken machine. You then bring that down and add it onto the machine and that will in turn open a gate where you proceed forward. They're usually more in depth than that, but you get the point. The only problem I had with this was that I found myself getting stuck pretty often due to being given absolutely no direction. All the tasks are usually extremely random and when they don't even tell you where to start or what your overall goal is, it can be a bit hard to figure out what you're supposed to be doing. Another huge problem is that during some of these segments, the developers thought it was necessary to add an indefinite flow of enemies to keep pestering you. That'll pretty much ruin any fun you may have had there. Overall though, I thought the puzzle segments offered a lot of fun and clever gameplay, and taking a break from the combat is always nice.
I said don't touch anything!
The combat in the game, as you may have guessed, is not so great. Unlike in LEGO Star Wars, you'll mostly be doing hand-to-hand combat. You can pick up guns and things but they're scarce and the aiming is terrible anyway. Your best bet is to just rush up to the opponent and mash the attack button until they're dead. There's no blocking or counter system either, so it basically boils down to mashing attack fast enough to kill them before they kill you. Now, when the enemies have guns you're brought to a whole new level of frustration. They all sit back and annihilate you with bullets while you're forced to just sit there and take it and until you've gotten a chance to finish each of them off. This is all made worse during certain sections where it's basically one giant mess of enemies. It then turns into a huge brawl where guns will be going off, punches are being thrown and explosions will be happening at random. It's unfortunately a common occurrence, and believe me when I say that it's not nearly as cool as it sounds. During these segments it's quite possible to be drained of every single LEGO you've collected at that particular stage. The overly simple and constantly infuriating combat system in this game is by far it's biggest downfall.
The 'health' system in the game is a bit weak and at times pretty frustrating. You'll have four hearts, which means four hits. If you get punched or shot once, you lose a heart. Once they're all gone you'll break apart and a bunch of the LEGOs you've collected will go flying out of you. Dying almost any other way (falling into caverns, jumping on spikes, etc.) will be an instant death. I'll just say right now, you will die a lot. The one thing that saves it from being too frustrating is that you have an unlimited number of lives. The only drawback to dying is that you lose some of the LEGOs you've collected, but even those can be gathered again immediately. If you got sent back to the beginning of an area/stage each time you died, there would be no way of getting through this game. Thankfully, that's not the case.
Throughout the entire game, you'll be accompanied by another character to help you along. Some can jump higher than Indy, some are small enough to fit through tiny passages and some come equipped with special items, such as a shovel for digging up buried objects or a book for 'translating' scriptures in order to open up secret passages. Now, if you're letting the AI take control of this second character (while not playing as them), instead of a friend, you're severely hindering your gameplay experience. Besides the fact that playing through this game with a friend is far more fun, the AI is absolutely terrible. They insist on accompanying you across every single platform you jump to and will quite often be jumping directly into you while you're trying to get somewhere. One of the biggest examples of this is during the very first level, the Raiders of the Lost Ark. When you're being chased by the big LEGO boulder, the second character is always in front of you, getting in the way of your jumps and completely blocking your field of vision. They're also oblivious to enemies most of the time and will basically just stand around while you're being shot at by three or four guys.
When you're not playing through the levels, you'll be at 'Barnett College' which is basically the central hub for the entire game. Here you can view the cinematics, purchase unlockable characters and items, view your artifacts, select the missions and much more. It basically acts as a big interactive menu and it's actually a pretty cool system.
Oh yeah, it's the crappy one.
Fans of the LEGO videogame series will definitely be getting their money's worth as there's plenty of gameplay here to keep you busy for a while. Each of the three levels took me about 4-5 hours to get through, and that's with only minor artifact collecting. If you want to go through and get everything you possibly can, it will take you substantially longer to complete. The good thing is that playing through the stages multiple times isn't necessarily a bad thing as each one is unique enough to feel like a completely different experience. There are tons of unlockables and fun little extras scattered throughout the game that will definitely keep you playing for a while. There's no online multiplayer, unfortunately, but the co-op still offers a lot of fun and playing through the game with a friend adds a lot to the enjoyment. You'll definitely find yourself playing through this with friends multiple times. Now for those who are just Indiana Jones fans who want to give this game a try, I'd probably recommend a rental first. The setting and theme will please fans of the movies but the gameplay just might not be your thing. I'd still give it a shot, however. All in all, Traveller's Tales has done a great job of capturing the spirit of the Indiana Jones films and has thrown enough fun and unique gameplay into the mix to keep gamers coming back for quite some time.
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