After the success of the LEGO Star Wars series of video games, it’s no surprise other film and comic book franchises are lining up to get the block treatment. The Caped Crusader is set to appear later this fall in LEGO Batman: The Video Game but first, LucasArts and developer TT Games have teamed up again for LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures. So grab your whip and fedora hat, and let’s see how this latest LEGO inspired adventure stacks up.
As its title suggests, LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures allows players to play through all three of the classic Indiana Jones films: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade (sorry Crystal Skull fans, all three of you). Each movie is broken down into six chapters that you must complete in order. In other words, you can’t skip to The Last Crusade without completing both the Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom storylines first.
Like LEGO Star Wars, gameplay in LEGO Indiana Jones consists of a combination of combat, platform and puzzle elements, though unlike LEGO Stars Wars, LEGO Indiana Jones emphasizes puzzle solving more than anything. In that regard, LEGO Indiana Jones plays a little more methodically than the LEGO Star Wars titles, though it still offers its share of action-packed moments that fans of the films will instantly recognize.
Combat is a little on the “meh” side. For one, there are no Nazis in the game. At least there are no visible Nazis. I suppose LucasArts and Traveler’s Tales didn’t think showing the insignia of the Nazi Party would be appropriate in a family friendly title, but then what’s the point in recreating this legendary film franchise if you don’t stay true to the source material? Anywho, the other problem with combat is that even though you’ll have access to an assortment of weapons, from guns to swords and even shovels, most of these weapons are second-rate compared to your basic bare-knuckles. Obviously there’s a long-range advantage for some of the weapons, like a bow and arrow, handguns or Indy’s trusty whip, but for those close combat scenarios you’re much better off dropping the sword and simply using your hands.
The platform elements aren’t too bad, though since you can’t move the camera around it can be difficult to gauge some of the jumps. The friendly AI can also pose problems in this area. As you play through most of the stages, you’ll be able to control one of two characters. The AI will take control of the second character and it’s not uncommon for the AI character to get in your way. Unfortunately you can’t tell that second character to stay put while you attempt a series of jumps. As a result, they tend to follow immediately behind and I can’t tell you how many times I fell off a ledge because the AI character got in my way.
As I said, LEGO Indiana Jones emphasizes puzzle solving so it’s no surprise it’s the most polished aspect of gameplay. Most of the puzzles are environmental in nature, requiring you to locate an object, than use it in some way within the environment to progress to the next area. Some of the puzzles require the cooperation of both friendly characters to complete. As you play through each of the stages, you’ll find that some areas can only be accessed by characters small enough to crawl through a tiny entrance, by characters with a certain hat on, and even other areas that require your character to be in possession of a book of hieroglyphics. These areas aren’t often critical to story progression, but rather offer a detour to riches and artifacts. This is how the game encourages replay. During or between any of the chapters, you can retreat back to Barnett College where, among other things, you can enter Free Play Mode and replay any of the stages you’ve previous cleared with any two characters you’ve unlocked. At the Barnett College, you can spend treasure you’ve found during the chapters to unlock these additional characters, as well as customize a character and re-watch various cutscenes.
Visually, LEGO Indiana Jones is just like LEGO Star Wars. Swap out the character models, environments and textures, and you’ve got the same bright, colorful, and cheerful look. The cutscenes are well made and John Williams’ famous soundtrack can be heard throughout the game. There’s a noticeable lack of ambient sound that would have added another dimension to the game but overall, the presentation in LEGO Indiana Jones is suited perfectly for its audience.
Other than combat, the biggest disappointment in LEGO Indiana Jones is the lack of online multiplayer. Considering it was present in the LEGO Star Wars series of titles, it’s disappointing to see the developers chose not to offer it here. If you want to play through the story mode co-operatively, you’re only option is to do so locally, but at least you can do that.
Despite the lack of online play and the humdrum combat system, LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures is a lot fun to play. With its cheerful visuals and challenging puzzles, the game does a charming job recounting the stories of each of the three classic films. As far as family friendly entertainment goes, LEGO Indiana Jones is a snappy way to spend the last of the summer days.