Lego Jurassic World

Year: 2015
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Traveler's Tales
Genre: Action/Adventure
Review Date: 3/10/16
Rating: ***

"Jurassic Park" is arguably the least interesting franchise that the Lego series has tackled, and the game suffers as a result. The one new feature that it adds is the ability to play as various dinosaurs, from the tiny Compsagnathus to the enormous Brachiosaurus. The game covers all four movies in the series, although the original three films feel more like bonus levels than full blown chapters. Similar to recent Lego games, "Lego Jurassic World" incorporates dialog from the original material with varying degrees of success. The audio clips from "Jurassic Park" are simply terrible, while JP2 and JP3 fare slightly better. Not surprisingly, the audio for "Jurassic World" sounds very good for the most part, and the actors even provide some original dialog for the game. Unfortunately, the generic NPC dialog is appallingly bad, and the audio levels are all across the board. Seriously, doesn't anyone normalize audio files these days? The final insult is that some of the female characters actually use male voices, which is a bit unsettling. I definitely feel like the material would have been better served if there were no dialog present at all, and the characters just mimed and grunted like the earlier Lego games did.

While the dialog is the biggest annoyance, the exceedingly long load times are a close second. This is the first Lego game I've played where you can't skip past the opening Traveler's Tales bumper or the chapter summary screens. That's a nuisance, but the bigger problem is that the game often pauses while you're playing to load new data. To make matters worse, this mostly happens when you're in the middle of a race, which is extremely disruptive. Thankfully, it doesn't affect your time, but it's very aggravating. Since I played this on the Xbox 360, I'm wondering if more time and resources went into optimizing the current generation console versions. If so, I may have to buy all future Lego games for PS4, since Xbox 360 and PS3 are effectively retired platforms at this point. It's interesting to see how many console generations the series has spanned, as I originally started playing the Lego games on the PlayStation 2 back in 2005.

Overall, this is by far the easiest Lego game I've played to date, and it doesn't feature any cruel or overly difficult tasks. The races are mostly reasonable and the time challenges are extremely forgiving. Precision jumping isn't required, so you'll never accidentally fall off a cliff or into the water again. A simple button press is all it takes to traverse dangerous areas. Similarly, the chase sequences require absolutely no input at all, unless you're trying to pick up extra studs and minikits. As far as gameplay goes, "Lego Jurassic World" pares things down to the basics. There's the traditional Story Mode and Free Play, along with the various islands that you can explore, but no mini-games, bonus levels, or other overly ambitious play modes. I actually liked that aspect, as it kept me focused on the core gameplay.

The Lego games have a reputation for being buggy, but this was the least buggy one I've played to date. I didn't experience any crashes, hangs, or game limiting behavior, and I only found myself stuck once where I had to exit and restart a level. However, the various indicators seem flakier than usual. Some of them point to nowhere or lead you in the completely opposite direction, while some continue to point to items you've already collected. The worst offender is probably in the Mosasaur arena, where a gold brick indicator points to the inside of the observation area, but the brick is actually in the tank. You have to attack six sharks to get the brick, but there's no indication that attacking the sharks is doing anything. You just keep biting them and eventually a gold brick shows up in your inventory. Very buggy behavior. Unfortunately, right at the very end of the game when I had reached 99.2% completion, my save file got corrupted. That was infuriating, but I don't know if that was a problem with the game, the console, the hard drive, a power fluctuation, or whatever. Regardless, I had no motivation to put another thirty hours into the game just to reach 100%. Overall, I found "Lego Jurassic World" to be a fun diversion, but not up to the standards set by previous entries in the series. The material doesn't lend itself well to the Lego treatment, and it reminded me of how scary and violent those movies actually are. Children will probably enjoy it more than adults who grew up with the Jurassic Park movies, and they will undoubtedly love running around as dinosaurs and causing mayhem.