Monday, June 9, 2008

Lego Indiana Jones Review

Like I promised, the Lego Indiana Jones Wii Review is now up at VFH's main site. Check it out.
UPDATE (3/22/10) VFH Classic is dead:

LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures combines two great franchises; LEGOs and Indiana Jones, in case you weren’t sure which two. Mostly everything in the game is constructed out of LEGOs, making for a fun and destructive game.

The over-world takes place in college in which Indy teaches. Directly in front of where you spawn, there are three maps, each of which represents each of the three movies: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, and the Last Crusade. You can walk up to one and choose to play in any chapter you’ve unlocked, and either do the story mode or free play mode if you’ve already completed that chapter. Aside from these maps, there are a variety of rooms, such as a few stores where you can purchase new characters to play as in free play mode, a theater to view cut scenes, and other such rooms to explore; so basically, an interactive menu.

Each of the 3 movie sections of the game features about 6 chapters. Each level plays out as a platformer, where you jump around, fighting enemies and jumping over gaps and such to reach the next area of the level. As a LEGO game, every enemy you destroy, literally, or object you attack explodes in a plethora of pieces and studs. Studs are the money in the game and come in a variety of colors which represent their value. Sometimes when you destroy certain objects, they will turn into a throbbing pile of pieces, in which you can rebuild them into something new and useful in order to reach new areas or an item or simply get more studs. Other than rebuilding broken LEGOs, you can dig up items if you have a shovel, fix machines if you have a wrench, and read hieroglyphics if you have a blue book. Certain characters have special abilities that you will need to collect certain items and such. For instance, small characters can crawl through certain passageways, while women can jump higher than men and some can scream to break glass. Indiana is the only character who can use his legendary whip, which is used in battle and puzzle solving. Also, some characters always have access to certain weapons or a shovel or wrench. You can also pick up torches to light candles and other things and hit switches and levels to solve puzzles. When you play a level in story mode, you are given specific characters to use, and sometimes you can’t accomplish everything you would want to with these characters, so in order to collect everything, you will need to replay the level in free play mode using certain characters. In free play mode, you’re given about ten characters to play as, which you can switch between on the fly, and these characters have all the abilities you should need.

Here, you can see pretty much everything. The meter in the top left is that character, with the # of studs you have plus your health, out of four hearts. If you're playing by yourself, you can switch characters with a simple press of a button. Everything that looks like LEGO blocks are destructible, while silver ones can only be destroyed by certain weapons or items.

Aside from playing through each level, there are three tasks you can do to complete the level in its entirety: collect 10 pieces of an artifact, fill your stud meter, and find a parcel. With the artifact pieces, you must find all 10 pieces to complete the figure. These pieces are hidden throughout the level, and require a variety of character abilities to uncover them all. Once you collect all the pieces, you can view the artifact in one of the rooms in the college, where they are all displayed. The stud meter fills up as you collect studs, and if you get enough, you are deemed a “True Adventurer” and get a stud bonus at the end of the level. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it leads to smashing everything in a level, which kind of overwhelms the game and makes it a smash-fest where that’s all you do, but the game is a bit deeper than that of course. There is a single parcel hidden in each level, and if you find and retrieve it, then you can purchase it at the store to unlock a new feature or character.

A classic scene, although bad camera angle. You have to run forward, avoiding spikes and pits, but it's hard to tell what is going to be coming up. The game usually features good camera angles, but there are times when I wish I could have had control of it myself to see what's in front of me.

Cut-scenes add in a bit of humor, but lack voice acting of any kind and there aren’t even any captions or anything, so if you haven’t seen the movies, you will probably be a little lost on exactly what’s going on and who anybody is. Having seen the movies and knowing the story will definitely add to the enjoyment of the game, as you will understand what’s going on, understand the jokes, and know what you need to do to continue. For instance, in the last level of the Last Crusade section, there are about 100 cups that will kill you, except for one, the Holy Grail, but if you don’t know the story, you won’t know why you keep dying.

There isn’t much else going on in the game, except for the fact that it can all be played with a friend, where the second player simply needs to press the “Start” button to join in, like arcade games, so that’s always nice. Also, the game features adaptive difficulty which is cool, but the game is never very difficult. You will die often, but dying simply looses you a bunch of studs, but not much else. You don’t have a certain number of lives or anything.

There are times when you need your partner's help, and luckily the AI is smart enough to know when this time comes, and otherwise, can usually fend for themselves, although nothing beats the companionship of a friend.

I played the Wii version, and as far as I can tell, there aren’t any special things about it or anything taken away. The only added feature I could see was the fact that you can use Indy’s whip by simply flicking the Wii remote, but doing so more than two times will start pissing you off and it’s definitely not worth the effort, so you won’t even use it.

Overall, LEGO Indiana Jones is a good game, but it is short lived. The levels contain a little variety, mainly in the environment, but you essentially do the same thing over and over again. Maybe it’s because I beat the entire game over the weekend, but it seems like you just smash up a bunch of blocks and beat up on enemies until you get to the end. There is some fun to be had of course, but the repetition is too high. Finding every artifact and parcel will take you some time, but it’s just too much of the same. If you’re a little younger, then I’m sure you’d find more enjoyment out of the title, but I guess my standards are just a little higher.


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