After the huge success of LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy in 2005 and 2006 respectively, it seemed stupid for LucasArts not to capitalize on the LEGO game franchise and in 2007, they announced LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures. Around the same time, Warner Bros. announced they would be bringing LEGO Batman to consoles in late 2008. The first of the two has been released coinciding with the latest Indiana Jones film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull so grab your hat, pick up your whip, cue the music and read on to discover whether LEGO Indy should be swinging its way into your games collection or left in the snake pit.
LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (LEGO Indy) focuses on the first three films: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade. Each has been brilliantly recreated in LEGO with added humour to match the hilarity of the LEGO Star Wars games. The action-packed effect created in the movie is superbly shown in LEGO Indy’s gameplay. Players quite often find themselves facing creature upon creature, enemy upon enemy and boss after boss so there is never a dull moment. Improvements to the gameplay from LEGO Star Wars have been made as puzzles seem a lot more challenging. Rather than magically levitating boxes on top of each other, LEGO Indy’s puzzles consist of searching the area for tools to dig and fix objects and to use each character’s special abilities in order to progress.
One of the cleverest features of the game is how each character’s abilities can be used in order to help players with challenges. Indy’s whip can be used to swing across gaps; Willie’s high pitched scream can be used to break glass; Short Round can be used to crawl into small gaps and the list continues. Yes, we have seen this before and unfortunately there are no prizes for guessing where but LEGO Indy goes one step further. Everyone who’s ever watched Indiana Jones will know his only fear is of snakes. This is cleverly represented in the game as characters shiver and put their hands over their eyes at the sight of their phobia. Indy isn’t the only one though as most female characters are scared of small bugs and creepy-crawlies so it’s up to other characters to help them overcome it, normally by giving the creature a good hit with a shovel.
Remember how in LEGO Star Wars holding the X button made you practically invincible? In LEGO Indy, the combat is slightly more difficult. The enemy normally has the advantage with longer range weapons, despite Indy’s ability to steal their weapon using a whip, so close combat is your only option. Most disappointingly about the combat is how there is no blocking system, which is surprising since the majority of the destructible environments are made from LEGO blocks, therefore there isn’t any way of preventing an enemy’s attack from hitting players. The health system has remained the same from the LEGO Star Wars titles, four hits and you’re out which are represented by four hearts. Similarly to LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Indy has infinite respawns. Once your character deceases, you lose a few studs but your character and health replenish.
The relief after you watch your enemies’ body parts collapse and spread out amongst the floor after a high-intense moment is great and best of all, it looks good. Each character from the movies is easily recognizable, despite their LEGO makeover and even though the race titles have not been included within the game, fans of the film will still be able to identify each race with ease. Whilst some players may be disappointed by only objects in the environment being recreated in LEGO and the realistic backgrounds, I feel it suits the game as it is simple yet effective.
Similarly to the Mos Eisley Cantina in the LEGO Star Wars titles, LEGO Indiana Jones lets players explore Barnett College (Indiana Jones’ workplace). It hasn’t been accurately recreated but it has been created to fit all the required features including classrooms for players to watch trailers and enter cheats, a mail room to store collected parcels and even a museum to show your collected artefacts. You’ll also find characters wandering around and even the odd bonus/secret so it’s worth having a little time-out at the college during your adventure.
LEGO Indy contains a variety of unlockables to erm… unlock. From characters to cheats, players always find themselves replaying levels to find the golden treasure chests (similar to the mini-kits in LEGO Star Wars) and secret areas. The more determined adventurers will also find the hidden LEGO Star Wars characters including Chewbacca and R2-D2. The references to LEGO Star Wars are also noticeable within the cutscenes. My favourite reference was after Indy picks up the gold idol, he goes into his bag, pulls out a C-3PO head and the other characters start imitating C-3PO.
LEGO Indy manages to pull off what LEGO Star Wars also did well, which was to have a clear, humorous storyline without the use of speech. Their emotions, movement, comedy timing and limited dialogue clearly tell the story in short cutscenes at the beginning, middle and end of each chapter. Whilst this will obviously appeal to the younger gamer, it may also appeal to the older gamer as it’s a change from long, speech-filled cutscenes in more “adult” games.
Straight from when players put the disc into their console, they will find themselves humming to the easily recognizable theme tune from George Lucas’ creation though very soon you’ll be sick of it. The theme tune is played on the main menu, played as you explore Barnett College and played when enemies are approaching in the story mode itself. Despite this, the sound of LEGO objects being destroyed and studs (collectable coins) entering your bank has been created well enough to keep your volume on.
The “drop-in, drop-out” co-operative system returns in LEGO Indy, but with one major let down: The lack of XBOX Live play. This comes as a huge blow and as a surprise after the online co-operative system was available in LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Despite the major let down, the co-op works brilliantly well. Friends can join the current game in progress at any point with the press of a button, and drop out with another two buttons. I personally find the co-op in LEGO Indy more entertaining than in LEGO Star Wars, mainly due to the more complex puzzles.
Being an “achievement addict” when I first got my hands on the list, I was more-or-less drooling… OK, that was a slight over-exaggeration but they are one of the best achievement lists I have seen. There are quite a few achievements the average gamer will be able to unlock playing throughout the game (such as the achievements for finishing levels worth 10 GamerScore each) and a few achievements even the hardcore gamer may find difficult to unlock (such as the “Complete the game to 100%” worth an incredible 100 GamerScore) so there’s a good variety. The names and the achievement images show a lot of thought has been put into the list and kudos goes to the developers for doing so.