Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures

Year: 2008
Platform: PlayStation 2
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: Traveler's Tales
Genre: Action/Adventure
Review Date: 6/14/08
Rating: ****

Firmly in the mold of "Lego Star Wars II," Traveler's Tales tackles the original Indiana Jones trilogy with the same humorous reverence. Unfortunately, it's all a bit too familiar, as many of the same mechanics, graphics, and sound effects are identical. I guess I was expecting something more to help distinguish the title from its "Star Wars" brethren, but from a marketing standpoint it's better to not mess with a successful formula. That said, the game continues to refine the formula laid out by its predecessors, and the improvements are welcomed. However, the tediously long load times are not.

The game revolves around the central hub of Barnett College where you can select which adventures and missions you want to do. There are various rooms in the college where you can buy characters, enter codes, watch cutscenes, purchase power-ups, and create custom characters. Lego studs continue to be the currency of the realm, and they are found by destroying everything in sight. The character classes include whip users (Indy), diggers, high jumpers, mechanics, screamers (Willie), small people, soldiers (Nazis), Thuggees, and scholars. All of these talents are used to solve puzzles and find the various treasures and bonuses that are scattered throughout the game. Power-ups are found as parcels that need to be mailed back to the college, and can only be obtained during the Free Play missions. This provides an additional level of complexity over the hard to find red bricks of the "Star Wars" games. Three bonus levels can be unlocked including Ancient City, Warehouse, and a chance to play as Young Indy from "The Last Crusade." The Ancient City is like Lego City from "Lego Star Wars II" where you have to find one million studs in the level, which can be very tricky (I came up 30,000 short). The object of the Warehouse is completely lost on me, but it basically gives you the tools to create your own racetrack.

In Story Mode, the game recreates events from the movies in a light-hearted and campy way. Unfortunately, the material doesn't lend itself to this kind of lampooning as well as the "Star Wars" material does, but it's still fun and very cute. "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" is the most enjoyable chapter, while "Temple Of Doom" is the most frustrating and "The Last Crusade" just reminded me of how much I despised the film. The most amusing aspect of "Temple Of Doom" is that Willie Scott has the ability to break glass and harm enemies with her screaming. An additional bonus in the game is that several "Star Wars" characters make special appearances, which is quite fun. Ultimately, they unlock Han Solo as a playable character.

Presentation wise, the game looks just like the previous games - colorful and attractive, but certainly not pushing any technological boundaries. Unfortunately, the game features some inconsistent textures, horrible aliasing problems, and a handful of really awful graphics. I'm shocked that no one bothered to address these issues. Nearly all of the combat in the game is close quarters hand-to-hand fighting, which isn't as much fun as having a blaster in the "Star Wars" games. It also means that you die more frequently, which isn't that big of a deal since you infinitely respawn in the same spot. The AI in the game can be very frustrating, and your computer controlled partner isn't always very helpful. Sometimes it's necessary to plug in a second controller and take command of both characters in order to get something done. While some of the objectives and mechanics in the game take a while to figure out, the difficulty is balanced much better than the previous games and there aren't any truly dastardly levels or puzzles. It took me a couple of hours to master the controls and get into the game, but once I did, it became a gleeful obsession to track down all of the treasures and bonuses. Despite its minor flaws and disappointments, "Lego Indiana Jones" is an extremely fun and entertaining game for all ages.