Developer/Publisher: Lucas Arts Entertainment\Traveller’s Tales
Platform(s): Xbox 360 [reviewed], Playstation 3, Nintendo Ds, Nintendo Wii
Genre(s): Action adventure
Mode(s): Single player/two player co-op
Time clocked: About 10 to 15 hours
Having never seen Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I was pleased to not find it included in LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures. The previous game instead focused on the true film trilogy, giving each movie a solid set of levels to play through and explore. It followed the same formula that won many fans over in the LEGO Star Wars games, and though it had some problems and didn’t tackle every key scene possible, it was a fun game all in all, with plenty to see and do despite no one being able to Force push droids.
And here we are now a year later with LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, a sequel that is both surprising and a great step forward for the LEGO game franchise. But not all is shiny LEGO blocks.
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The fourth film is in the limelight this time around, taking up a large chunk of gameplay. One-third, if I were a guessing man (author’s note: I’m not). In previous LEGO games, players would select a film/level from a closed-in hub (e.g., the Batcave in LEGO Batman, the diner in LEGO Star Wars, or the university in LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures). Here, you select which movie you’d like to play from a crate in the warehouse and are then dropped into a large, open-world map. In these wide and sprawling zones, you can punch trees and benches and unlock vehicles and animals, as well as find secret areas and colored LEGO bricks. This is also the place where you will find levels to play though it is not always clear what the next mission is and where to go. It’s a blast just exploring though, and I found myself on a mission to find as many colored bricks (unlock ten of each red, green, or blue brick and a purchasable secret will parachute down to the ground) before continuing on with the story.
Instead of simply porting over already done levels for Raiders of the Ark, The Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade, Traveller’s Tales completed re-did them for LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, though on a much smaller scale. You’ll fly through them, alas, but they are still quite fun, especially the boss battles, which are silly yet innovative and not so grounded by source material.
As with previous LEGO games, there’s always something to collect. This time around you have studs (a.k.a. money), colored bricks, vehicles, playable characters, and treasure. Plenty to keep completionists (like myself) on the brink of OCD, especially since you can re-enter completed story levels to find them different than before and wielding a new set of tasks. That said, it definitely looks like a long and slow haul to unlock everything because nothing is ever cheap in this stud-heavy universe.
The graphics are actually quite nice, especially when you consider it’s mostly LEGO blocks. The world map hubs offer up some nifty water effects, as well as an expansive mountain range or dense forest. I particularly liked how things would blur up close if you moved the camera. But it’s the cutscenes where it’s evident that these block-by-block characters are actually fairly detailed.
Two new features really help set LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues apart from the rest. The first, split-screen co-op action, is not something I got to experience. Will have to wait for the fiancée to visit soon. However, I’ve seen it in action online, and it looks like it works great; no more pointless deaths or fighting for direction! The second big addition is the “create a level” feature a la LittleBigPlanet. The tutorials do a great job of explaining how it all works, and it’s quite deep and can be very involving. Some reviews have bemoaned the fact that you can’t share levels with friends online, but I’m not concerned over that.
But remember when I said not all was shiny? LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues is brimming with freezing issues. These happen nine times out of ten when running around a hub world, and they are beyond frustrating. Forum posters suggest downloading the game to the Xbox HD, but haven’t tried that. Also, there’s too much back and forth. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself strangling the controller after you traipsed across the entire map to discover you didn’t bring a wrench-skill character to complete the specific level. Camera issues have been worked on, but are still not perfect (judging the distance between platforms, for instance, is still anyone’s guess, and you will have to die a few times to get the hang of it).
All in all though, this is a great step forward for the LEGO videogame franchise. The introduction of the hub overworld and freedom it offers is greatly appreciated, and no longer restricted to tell the exact storyline of these movies allowed Traveller’s Tales to up the fun ante considerably. Can’t wait to see what they do with LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4.
8 out of 10
P.S. I’ve officially exhausted the word LEGO from my vocabulary.