Traveler’s Tales have hung up their light sabers and busted out the whip and fedora for the latest installment in the Lego games franchise. Opening the Lucas Arts vault once again Traveler’s Tales has brought the world’s favorite archeologist into their peg filled universe, with Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures.
The game will be very familiar to all Lego veterans because the game play mechanics remain relatively unchanged from previous installments minus a few new additions. Traveler’s Tales uses almost the exact same formula they have been using on all previous installments in the Lego franchise, which makes for hours of fun and simple game play.
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures runs through the first three movies from the Lucas Arts franchise. Several of the levels in the game are taken from direct sequences found in the movies, while others take place in the same locations but are only loosely inspired by the movies. An example of this takes place in the Temple of the Holy Grail at the end of The Last Crusade. In the movie Indy only had to pass three tests to enter the chamber where the Holy Grail resided. In the game there are several more puzzles and tests that must be passed as well as more chambers that need to be completed before you reach the Holy Grail.
The abilities of the characters in the game are a lot different than what was found in the Lego Star Wars titles, most obviously the lack of force powers. The game does have a good balance of character abilities, most notably Indie’s whip. The whip can only be used by Indiana and is the only solution to solving several puzzles and areas. It can also be used as a weapon to break baddies or steal their weapons. The whip is also used to lasso one of the three female lead characters for a nice Lego smooch session. Some of the other characters have special abilities like Henry Jones Sr., who uses a manuscript to solve puzzles. Certain characters can still jump higher than others, smaller characters can crawl through the small hatches, Willie can scream so loud she shatters glass and Lego characters. Several other characters carry shovels used to dig things up or wrenches used to repair machinery throughout the game.
In previous installments of the game, each ability could only be used by certain characters. Playing through the campaign in this game however, Indiana will come across discarded manuscripts, shovels, and wrenches that he can use himself to solve situations in the level. Unlike the specialty characters, Indie will drop the items when he is hit and they will disappear. This makes gamers go back and play through in free mode to obtain all the unlockables.
Another new game play mechanic is the introduction of phobias. At different parts in the game you will come across enemies that will make your characters cower in fear. Obviously Indiana Jones is scared of snakes just like he is in the movies. The only other phobia I saw was that most of the female characters are afraid of the little Lego spiders. When one of your characters is cowering in fear, they put their hands in front of their face, will walk extremely slow, and cannot jump or use any of their abilities. When I was playing as Indiana he was completely useless when his phobia struck and it was up to my co-op partner to solve the problem and eliminate the snakes.
One of the major differences from previous Lego games are the weapons. In Star Wars Lego every character, besides the droids, were equipped with either a light saber or a blaster. None of the main characters used in story mode have any kind of projectile weapon. The only weapons that your characters come equipped with are Indie’s whip, shovels and wrenches. This makes it difficult when almost every enemy you face has a pistol, machine gun or bazooka. You can however pick these weapons up from fallen enemies but after a few hits to your character you will lose it. Most of the combat you will be doing in the game is hand to hand which makes it especially hard when there is a group of enemies shooting at you. I found myself jumping and dodging to try to avoid enemy fire but there is not a whole lot you can do to avoid being hit. This isn’t too big of an issue considering there are infinite respawns for your characters.
Lego Indiana Jones also has much more platforming gameplay as well as more puzzles than previous Lego installments. Lego Star Wars seemed a lot more linear in terms of level design and gameplay compared to Lego Indiana Jones. The change is a welcome one that I believe adds another dimension to the familiar gameplay. There are also several more puzzles in Indiana Jones that need to be solved in order to progress through the game. The puzzles are a little more complex from the few found in Star Wars and some even require platforming skills to complete. The Traveler’s Tales team seems to have reworked vehicle controls as well because they seem a lot more fluid and tight than the vehicles in Star Wars Lego. You won’t find Indiana Jones piloting an X-Wing fighter but there are several levels where he can ride in different cars as well as some Lego animals.
The cooperative in Lego Indiana Jones was handled very well. A second player is able to join up at any time and play side by side throughout the entire game. I was surprised that the game doesn’t support online co-op when Star Wars: The Complete Saga did. I think that all of these Lego games can be a great gateway game for getting non-gamers to start playing games. The Lego games are simple and have a very easy learning curve that anyone can pick up the controller and start having fun within minutes. I even got my girlfriend to play through most of the game with me.
Just like all Lego games, Lego Indiana Jones offers has a lot of extras and hidden items that extend the amount of time you can play the game for. You may play through a level in story mode and see some of the hidden items, but you won’t be able to access them until you beat the level and go back and play it in free mode. There are more than just red bricks to be found throughout the three movies. There are also parcels that unlock special gameplay features. However, you cannot use a parcel unless you find the corresponding mail box in the same level. There were instances where I found the parcel during story mode but had to go back in free mode and using a character’s special ability access the mail box and mail the parcel.
Once you mail the parcel it is sent back to the college where Indie teaches. The college is the hub of the game, just like Mos Eisely Cantina was the hub of the Star Wars Games. The college hub is the place to buy all the new characters and unlock the special gameplay from the parcels. There are also three different bonus level that can be access at the college pub, Lego character creator as well as a few secrets. Seeing all the Lego characters from the game walking around the college is fun and it is even better when you get to break them in half.
Traveler’s Tales took full advantage of the Lucas Arts license and really gave the game an authentic Indiana Jones soundtrack. During each action sequence the familiar Indiana Jones music is right there with you to make it seem like you’re playing through the movies….but with Lego people.
One of my main complaints with the game is the camera. During single player the camera behaves fine but during cooperative it can be a pain in the ass. When I was playing co-op there were several instances where one player was too far ahead of the other. The camera would try to follow the first player only to force the second player off a ledge. It was actually funny to see the camera stuck and the second player respawn in such a place where there was no solid ground and they would break apart instantly.
Overall Lego Indiana Jones is a fun game that offers hours of replay ability. The developer makes great use of the license and delivers an authentic Indiana Jones story.
This review is based on a retail copy of the 360 version of Lego Indiana Jones.