Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures
Death by propeller, man eating crocodiles and people playing football with a decapitated head. It’s amazing what you can get away with when there’s no blood. Welcome to the violent, but completely gore free world of Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures.
Lego Indy is a spiritual sequel to the two Lego Star Wars games (three including the Complete Saga), which have been released over recent years. The game uses the same formula of retelling the stories of the iconic films in an inoffensive yet quirky manner. In keeping with the family friendly theme, some of the films’ darker issues have been removed; for example, all Nazi references, which were a major part of two of the films, are gone. However, this doesn’t really affect the storytelling or gameplay.
The game splits each of the three films into six parts offering a total of eighteen levels. Playing in much the same way as the Lego Star Wars games, players need to solve puzzles, find hidden items and combat against a number of enemies to progress. Puzzles are relatively simple and consist of a variation of building, pulling levers and making use of various attributes, tools and equipment. For example; explosives, spanners, high jumps and of course Indy’s whip.
Combat is predominantly hand-to-hand, although there are a number of weapons to use, including pistols, glass bottles, and swords. Some characters unlocked later in the game will come pre-equipped with these weapons, although many of the characters will have to pick them up as they progress through the level.
In Story Mode, most levels require switching between two characters making best use of their abilities to collect studs (which act as the in game currency and can be used to buy various items) and find hidden items. One of them will always be Indy whilst the other will be appropriate to the plot of that particular scene. In previous games, characters’ abilities were specific to their class. However in this game most abilities are pieces of equipment that can be used by everyone, essentially making some classes worthless. There are exceptions however, for instance female characters have the added advantage of being able to jump higher than their male counterparts and Indy is the only one to use the whip.
As is well documented in the films, a number of characters have phobias. A case in point would be Indy’s hate of snakes. Lego Indy makes use of these phobias by restricting the movement of affected characters and will often require switching to another character to fend of the offending creature, usually with fire.
Players will need to make use of all of the characters’ abilities if they are to fully complete the game. All levels have ten hidden artifacts, which need to be found and later assembled to help unlock secret levels. There are also parcels that need to be found and posted, which can later be bought to unlock an extra.
Whilst there are a large number of characters available – over sixty in fact, the selection seems a letdown over previous games in the series. Of course this isn’t any fault of the title and is more down to the films. Whereas Star Wars had a vast number of characters to choose from, the Indy films don’t offer as many full characters and so to fill in the gaps we’re left with a number of bland characters such as variations on soldiers and alternative outfits.
There are other letdowns as well. Vehicles handle like Bambi on ice, which is made even more noticeable when trying to negotiate a vehicle into a specific area. It also makes the bike escape level from The Last Crusade more of a chore than anything else. There is also a problem with the fixed camera, which makes it difficult to judge jumps over gaps and onto ropes. The biggest let down however, is the complete omission of multiplayer. Playing co-op with a friend is one of the best features on the console games. With a number of multiplayer options available to the PSP such as Ad-hoc and game sharing, it seems a strange decision to leave it out.
Lego Indy also features a Free Play mode, which lets gamers replay previously completed levels. As opposed to Story mode Free Play allows for eight characters to be in a team, albeit only two are shown on the screen at once. Free Play mode is predominantly for collecting items that were missed during Story mode and with the variation of character abilities it makes finding them much easier, although it may still take more than two run-throughs of each level to fully collect everything.
The graphics look good, with the blocky nature of Lego perhaps beneficial to the system’s limitations. However, detail in the cutscenes and textures do suffer and screen tearing is apparent. The audio suffers from no problems and works wonderfully. The lack of voices result in a silent comedy feel and the iconic score will make feet tap uncontrollably.
Lego Indy is a thoroughly entertaining retelling of the classic film trilogy. Fans of either the films or previous Star Wars games will enjoy this the most, although knowledge of the film isn’t essential to take pleasure from it. There are concerns of whether or not the game progressed enough from its Star Wars origins, but considering the old formula worked so well was there any need to change it? Yes there are niggles, which need to be looked into before future releases, and the lack of multiplayer is a huge drawback, but the experience is still good. For a system that is criticised for the lack of games, you could do a lot worse that this.