Tag Archives: races

Life never really finds a way in LEGO Jurassic World

It used to feel good to hit 100.0% completion in these sundry LEGO games. It was a victory well-earned, through being meticulous and dedicated and clever. You go back into levels you already played, now with a crew of varying abilities and skills, and you’d do things you were unable to prior, truly experiencing everything the level had to offer. Alas, the last few LEGO games I’ve played, specifically LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, have turned it into a real chore. I’m saddened to say that LEGO Jurassic World is also now a part of this troublesome family, and methinks this just may be the way all future LEGO games go, so allow me to predict now that I will greatly enjoy my first few hours with LEGO The Incredibles, but will be busted by the end of it. Sigh.

You may recall that I actually already played through LEGO Jurassic World some years back. Well, that was the Nintendo 3DS version, and I found it…underwhelming. A part of me hoped that its bigger console version would remedy some of the issues I had with it on handheld, and it does, but that still doesn’t mean it’s the best of the bunch and not without its own set of problems. Mel and I played it together, and that’s always fun, but the grind after completing all the levels to get every last red brick, gold brick, piece of amber, minikit, dinosaur, worker in peril, vehicle, character, and photograph is beginning to wear on my mind.

LEGO Jurassic World, despite its name, covers the first four films in the series, with each movie getting a handful of levels–roughly about 5 or 6–as well as its own minihub area to run around on and dig up collectibles. These levels are bigger and better than the 3DS version, but there’s still too many sections involving running non-stop toward the screen as a dinosaur chases from behind, and these sections are even more frustrating if you miss a collectible. Other than those, the big moments in each movie are tackled and play out, more or less, as one might expect. Traveller’s Tales still infects the narrative with its kooky humor–they love bananas and pigs–but a lot of the dialogue is taken from the movie and its quality is noticeably poor, to the point that I’d rather have this take go back to the silent pantomimed style of earlier LEGO games.

My biggest issue, early on, with LEGO Jurassic World revolved around its hub world maps and how the developers never tell you that you need to interact with a computer terminal to open up fast-traveling waypoints. For a while, I just couldn’t travel to a map area quickly, and my only solution was to load up a level and then save and exit from it, which meant sitting through several loading screens just to pop up on my island of choice. You could say I goofed a bit on that, but the blame could also go on the developers as I don’t recall other LEGO games requiring this. Also, there are multiple layers to each map that you constantly have to click through to exit back to the main game. Not really ideal, when all I wanted to do was drop on a pin on the nearest red brick.

Y’know, a lot of people like to muse about future or potential LEGO games–myself included–and I’m coming to realize that not everything can fit the mold. For instance, I’ve seen a lot of clamoring for things like LEGO Jaws and LEGO James Bond. The problem is that, often times, there’s just not enough excitement there to warrant games in these franchises. For instance, say there was a LEGO Jaws, you would get a handful of named and well-liked characters to play as, but then you’d have to spend all your time unlocking upwards of 50 no-namers like Ben Gardner or Harry Meadows, and their abilities, unlike superheroes, would be beyond bland, like interviewing witnesses or using fishing rods. That happened here in LEGO Jurassic World, wherein I mostly played as only the main characters from the films via the top two rows of the character select screen and touched nobody else except for Mr. DNA and a dinosaur when a puzzle required it…because nobody else seemed all that exciting to control, and there’s next to no experimenting.

If you are nostalgic for things adjacent to Jurassic Park, I wouldn’t recommend this. If anything, watch the films again. I have recently and can continue to put them high up on a pedestal, beacons of fun storytelling and lovable characters. Sure, you don’t get to bounce around as an ultra cute and tiny velociraptor, but that’s probably the only noteworthy difference between the films and the games. Heck, go back and play Jurassic Park on the SNES if you want something super engaging and full of tension though, in my heart of hearts, I know that those first-person sections do not hold up.

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The first to finish this free-to-play Ben-Hur race is the last to die

gd Ben-Hur second post pic

It sure has been a lot of games completed haikus–seven in a row!–and nothing much else here on Grinding Down for these past few months, and that’s fine. This happens every year. My archives prove it so. Summer is crazy-busy for me at the day job, which basically means I find myself with both less free time to think and write about all them videogames in my possession. Plus I’m trying to get some comic books done for MICE. Do not fret; I’m still playing things here and there, jumping from game to game and system to system like an unchained glutton, but unfortunately I’m just not finding the time slash energy to put down all my hot takes. That is until now.

The other night, while mindlessly scanning the list of new releases on Xbox One’s store, I noticed a free-to-play thing called…Ben-Hur. Hmm. Curiosity got the better of me, and I had to know what exactly this was. Not because I’m some huge fan of the 1959 film starring Charlton Heston as the title character or even the least bit interested in this new re-imagining of the source material (though Morgan Freeman’s hair looks amazing). I’m just forever bewildered by tie-in videogames of all shapes and sizes, whether they are for movies, comic books, or even pizza-delivering establishments. I went into Ben-Hur thinking it’d be a quick, lackluster experience that existed only to constantly urge you, the player, to stop playing, drop some cash, and go sit in a movie theater instead, and I wasn’t disappointed in that prediction. At least I got a bunch of Achievement points, right?

Here’s how Ben-Hur goes, and try not to blink or you’ll miss the entire rundown: you participate in a chariot race where need to mash the A button to accelerate–but not too much as your horses will tire–and pull the left and right triggers to whip opponents on either side of you in hopes of taking them out for good. The natural goal is to come in first place, and you can do this by being a strong racer or simply eliminating the competition. Whipping the horses or running opponents into traps and other obstacles on the course does the trick. A season is made up of three individual races, each with their own number of laps and opponents. That’s it.

My first session with Ben-Hur lasted a total of twenty-eight minutes, in which I both won the season without breaking a sweat–or my chariot–and popped 8 of the 10 easy-as-pie Achievements. I’ve since gone back and gotten one more Achievement, and a part of me wants to get the last one, which requires destroying every opponent in every race of a season, but I think if I don’t get it the next time I play this will simply be removed both from the Xbox One and my memory. The tricky part is that you, the titular Ben-Hur, must destroy all the chariots yourself; they can’t be destroyed by other players or their own undoing. That’s as challenging as this live-or-die race gets, and the most hilarious cause-and-effect happening is seeing these health power-ups tossed out on to the track the moment you take a teeny tiny bit of damage.

Turns out, Ben-Hur was published by AOL and developed by Float Hybrid, which creates “branded experiences,” and Krome Studio, the developer of games I actually enjoy, such as Ty the Tasmanian Tiger. Maybe that’s what was missing from Ben-Hur: boomerangs and that distinct-sounding Australian English that I’ll never be able to perfectly replicate. Oh, and no, this did not inspire me to purchase a pair of tickets for the new movie. If anything, I’m inclined to stay far, far away.

100%-ing LEGO Marvel Super Heroes nearly broke me

lego marvel superheroes 100 percent grind

Naturally, I saved all the elements I hated the most for last when working towards hitting the 100% completion mark in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. Like races, of all variety. Like replaying every story level a second time to find the last few collectibles. That’s it, really. Those are the two mission types I disliked the most, as the fetch quests and bonus levels kept things lively, and so long as you have a character that can fly–my go-to was always Galactus or Ms. Marvel–then you can zip around the hub world and start checking off tasks…somewhat quickly. Getting there is no big problem, but one still has to factor in solving the puzzle to unlock the gold brick, vehicle, or character.

Races in the sense of a competition between runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc. to see which is the fastest in covering a set course are just the worst when it comes to open-world videogames. I avoid them at all costs. I think I did the obligatory one in Grand Theft Auto V and never went back. There are a few types in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: in air, in vehicles, or on foot. None of them are fun. One mistake generally costs you the entire race, forcing you to go back to the mission giver and try again, which is sometimes not an easy process. The flying ones are a real hassle as the controls for zipping through the sky like some cool person are clunky and, nine times out of ten, work against you. Here’s a real kicker though: Maria Hill challenges the player to a go-kart race on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, but it’s on a digitalized, floating track in the sky, and if she wins, the track disappears, and you fall all the way down to the city below. Want to try again? You have to either fly back to the Helicarrier or use a warp station.

Let’s talk a bit about Stan Lee. You know, the iconic American comic book writer, editor, publisher, media producer, television host, and actor who loves making cameos whenever it comes to all things Marvel. He’s a collectible in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, and there’s fifty in total to rescue. One Stan Lee in Peril is found in all the story levels and bonus levels, with the rest, a good twenty or twenty-five out in the hub world somewhere. Thankfully, an icon appears on the map to let you know where he is, but you can naturally only rescue one at a time. He’s not Multiple Man, mind you.

Anyways, after rescuing a bunch of Stan Lees in the hub world, I noticed there was no new icon showing up, which lead me to both recheck the map several times, but also assume that any new Stan Lee rescue missions were locked until I did something else. Or hit a set percent completion. As it turns out, that was not true; instead, there was a Stan Lee icon on the map the whole time, just hidden underneath another icon, one for a story mission that I had already completed. I only saw it visible when glancing at the mini map; you can’t see it through viewing the large map. In short, I could have been collecting Stan Lee the entire time, but didn’t because the developers thought it was a good idea to hide the icon on a map they clearly knew gamers were going to use as a means to set waypoints and track down things. In shorter, screw Stan “The King of Cameos” Lee.

Lastly, even after hitting 100% completion and enjoying the warm fuzzies of seeing all those collectibles collected, I still wasn’t done with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. See, I began playing the game co-op with my girlfriend, and evidently the Falling…with Style Achievement for successfully sky-diving off the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier is glitched if you try to do it first in co-op. The only way for me to pop it was to start a new game and never bring in another player. More frustratingly, you don’t get access to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier until after the first story level is completed. Imagine me, drained from grinding my heart out on LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, having to play a story level for a third time simply to be fully done with this mutation. Also, you can’t skip cutscenes the first go around. I grumbled through it, jumped off the Helicarrier, saw the Achievement pop, and felt an invisible weight lift off my shoulders.

At one point during my seemingly impossible climb to 100% completion, Deadpool mocked me for even trying. Made fun of me going after all these collectibles or doing another vehicle race simply to check it off an imaginary to-do list. I get that that’s Deadpool’s thing, breaking the fourth wall and whatnot…but when the videogame you are attempting to master is leaning back and laughing at you, one has to wonder. Super heroes are often defined by their sacrifices. I feel like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is one of my greatest.