Back in 2005, a little-known company called Traveller’s Tales teamed up with LucasArts to bring the Star Wars universe into the world of LEGO. The product, LEGO Star Wars, was received warmly by critics, gamers and fans alike, and spawned two additional sequels. With LEGO Star Wars over and done with, Traveller’s Tales have set their sights on a new Lucasfilm franchise - Indiana Jones. LEGO Indiana Jones takes the original three films and successfully translates it into the pantomime LEGO universe that made the Star Wars games such a hit. If you’ve ever played a LEGO Star Wars game before you’ll know exactly what to expect - but that’s not a bad thing. LEGO Indy is good, clean fun that can be enjoyed by just about anyone.
The LEGO storytelling has remained intact in Indiana’s universe, so you can expect a great deal of entertaining situations sprinkled throughout an abridged version of the plot. Like the LEGO Star Wars titles, if you’re not familiar with the Indy films you may find yourself struggling to understand what exactly is going on. Much of the story feels far too rushed, and the pacing usually squashes any dramatic tension that the films had. A couple scenes definitely remain intact (most notably Indy and Henry’s Zepplin escape from The Last Crusade) but the strange pace is jarring for longtime supporters and non-fans alike. What makes up for it, though, is the game’s wonderful sense of inoffensive humour. Indy and his LEGO pals get into seemingly endless ridiculous situations - from the rather cheerful scenes of dismemberment to the numerous cute Star Wars references. While most of the jokes could be written off as ‘childish’, you’d have to have a cold heart indeed to not crack a smile.
On the gameplay front, LEGO Indiana Jones is largely a platformer, with some heavy puzzle-solving elements mixed in. Each film is divided into six levels which highlight a pivotal plot moment. You will always be given at least two characters in your party, allowing drop-in cooperative play with a friend, and some Lost Vikings-esque puzzles. The game is best played with a friend as the friendly AI is questionable, and while it usually manages to keep up it’s absolutely useless in helping solve puzzles. Most of the time, your computer partner seems more interested in going kamikaze, fighting off hordes of enemies all by themselves. Don’t expect a friendly nudge in the right direction when you get stuck as the computer AI will remain passive throughout the experience until you figure out what you’re supposed to be doing.
Thankfully, LEGO Indiana Jones’ puzzles are actually quite smart. Unlike LEGO Star Wars, which more often than not featured puzzles with solutions so obscure you’d question the developer’s sanity, LEGO Indy’s puzzles make a lot of sense. To maximize the resourcefulness of Indy’s nature, character-specific special abilities are out for the most part. Indy is the only character with a whip, and only Willie’s screams are shrill enough to break glass - but apart from that almost everything can be done with items you find lying around. When faced with a puzzle, you’ll always find the item you need nearby, making it easier to figure out what the game expects you to do. The game greatly benefits from this. Not only because the experience becomes smarter and more streamlined, but because every character has worth. There are no more slow and useless droids; pretty much anyone can hold their own whether they’re platforming, puzzle-solving or fighting.
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