Developer: Traveller's Tales
Release Date: June 3, 2008
With the success of LEGO Star Wars I & II, it was reasonable to expect future LEGO movie parodies. The only question was whether the charm, humor and enjoyable gaming experience could be reproduced in this latest incarnation. After several days with LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, my opinion is a solid "Yes." Although LEGO Indiana Jones resembles a "platformer" in many ways, within the first few minutes of playing, it will become apparent that the game is much more of a puzzle-solving adventure.
LEGO Indiana Jones requires players to navigate 3-D environments and solve multiple logic puzzles. Players are also tasked with gathering studs, collecting treasure chests, building LEGO objects and fighting "thuggies" to advance through episodic levels representative of the key action sequences in the first three "Indiana Jones" movies. Although the game lacks Internet or LAN connectivity, it features an excellent co-op mode. Beginners to the LEGO adventure series can quickly get up to speed with abundant context-sensitive tips that are provided as you play the earlier portions of the game. LEGO Indiana Jones also utilizes an adaptive difficulty setting to smooth out the gameplay and provide a more enjoyable experience, especially for younger players.
The visual "cute" factor of using LEGO pieces to represent the characters and environments in the LEGO Indiana Jones quickly becomes the focal point of rating the overall graphics quality. As with the Star Wars products, LEGO Indy successfully combines a pleasing visual representation of both the LEGO toy products and the Indiana Jones movies with the surprising end result of also creating an entertaining gaming experience. The title even maintains its graphics quality on widescreen monitors and laptops. The automated camera system does a respectable job of keeping the 3-D action in focus, although the camera goes a bit crazy in a few locations, resulting in a trial-and-error navigation challenge for players.
LEGO Indy also features a fully orchestrated soundtrack with elements from all three of the original movie soundtracks, cleverly mixed to reflect the game's blending of the films. Just like its Star Wars predecessors, LEGO Indy is an excellent reason to purchase a game controller for your PC if you have not yet done so. The Xbox 360 controller for Windows is fully compatible with the game, and I can speak from experience when I say that it can take a considerable amount of time to get used to controlling your characters with the PC keyboard.
If you're familiar with the Indiana Jones movies, you will notice that the series is fairly well represented in the LEGO Indy game, although it boils down the movies into key action sequences. The tale still feels reasonably intact, especially with the humorous cut scenes that fill in the blanks between episodes. Barnett College serves as the hub for accessing the three Indiana Jones adventures and additional game features. The college layout connects several rooms, providing access to a library (character purchase), art room (character design), classroom (special features codes) and mail room (purchase abilities). There is also a trophy room and several other special areas that will need to be located to be enjoyed.
LEGO Indy includes an easy-to-use character designer (art room) that allows you to customize existing characters or create entirely new ones. Although cosmetic changes to characters do not affect their basic capabilities, the newly designed LEGO characters are available for use when you play in free-play mode.
LEGO Indy consists of two play modes. In story mode, you progress through each episode sequentially with liberal cut scenes peppered between each of the episodes. I found it nearly impossible to collect all of the objects and solve all of the puzzles while playing in the story mode. After a little research, I discovered that there will be aspects of the game that you're exposed to during the story mode but will be unable to complete unless you are in free-play mode using a different lineup of characters. Once you understand that you can't completely clear most episodes the first time through the game, it is much easier to enjoy each episode without unnecessary frustration. Games are automatically saved after either completing an episode in any of the three campaigns or after you make a purchase or significant change back at Barnett College.
The environments in LEGO Indy are highly destructible. The dominant collectible in the game are studs, which can be used to purchase additional items at the college. They come in either 10, 100, or 1,000 credit values. Artifact collectibles usually require the collection of ten separate pieces to complete the artifact. Don't be discouraged when you don't collect all 10 pieces while playing in story mode; I found that most artifacts can only be entirely collected in free-play mode because they require special characters (thuggies) to access them.
Collecting hearts is also critical in the game, since they recharge your character's health. In the event that a character runs out of health, he or she will explode into a pile of LEGO pieces, and some of the player's collected studs are then lost. Fortunately, when a character is destroyed, it will respawn fairly close to its previous location.
Although just about any character in LEGO Indy can climb, throw objects and swing, some in-game tasks will require using characters with unique abilities. Some characters can dig, which is often required to uncover environment switches or objects. In some episodes, there are several small access panels that will require the use of shorter characters, such as Short Round, to enter them. A few characters have the ability to repair objects with a wrench, while others can decode hieroglyphics with the help of a blue book.
Some objects — such as guns, spears and knives — can be used for battling thuggies instead of punching or using Indy's whip, although some practice is necessary for these tools to become effective. I also found that throwing objects provided a great deal of satisfaction. Some silver LEGO objects in LEGO Indy can only be destroyed with explosives, while other objects are designed to be pushed or pulled to trigger in-game events. For some reason, I had a hard time locating any dynamite in the game. Most of the puzzles either open new areas or allow you to advance to a new episode in the adventure.
An interesting twist in LEGO Indy is the inclusion of phobias for three of the key characters. Indy is afraid of snakes, Dr. Jones stays away from rats, and Willie cowers before bugs. The key to proceeding when a character becomes scared is to use another character to clear away the source of the problem with a torch or other object. The game is well suited for playing with other family members; younger children can have just as much fun collecting the LEGO studs as adults can with the title's puzzle elements.
Although Internet- and LAN-based multiplayer is not included in LEGO Indy, the game does include co-op play in either story or free-play modes. It is highly recommended that at least one game controller be used in co-op mode to avoid crowding on the PC keyboard. I highly recommend playing the co-op mode because it adds an entirely new cooperative dimension to the game and is loads of fun.
Without a doubt, LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures is a worthy addition to the witty and entertaining LEGO gaming franchise. Once you are comfortable using the occasionally awkward PC keyboard controls or preferably hooking up a game controller, you will quickly become immersed in the game's addictive gameplay. With plenty of goodies to collect and surprises to uncover, you will easily find a respectable amount of replay value as you attempt to obtain the best possible score for each episode. Anyone looking for a great family-oriented entertainment title for the PC would be hard-pressed to find a better offering than LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures.
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