When I heard that there were plans for LEGO Indiana Jones 2, I was confused. Don't we already have a game featuring the only three films worth remembering? Is this new game just going to feature the fourth movie and forget the other three entirely? The end result is a mishmash of bad ideas and half-baked contrivances that do only slightly less to tarnish the Indiana Jones franchise than "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." While there are a couple of neat innovations in LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, the overall experience feels forced, repetitive and not much fun at all.
The game's first stumbling block is the fact that it includes the first three Indiana Jones films even though they were already featured in the first game. Consequently, all the big moments from the movies (Indy outrunning the boulder, the fight with the scary Nazi in front of the plane's propellers) have already been done. Rather than retreading that ground, Traveller's Tales opted to have the levels focus on different movie moments from the original films, but nearly none of them are quite so memorable. Furthermore, these stages are incredibly brief, and you can complete an entire movie in no time at all. In fact, the experience ends just when things start to get moving in each world, and then you're kicked out to the main menu to move onto the next film. While I'm grateful this game offers new content instead of simply repackaging the levels of the first game, the experience is still rather bland and over far too quickly to be even remotely enjoyable.
The only film that gets a full game treatment is "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which makes sense since it was absent from the first LEGO Indiana Jones title. "Kingdom" is spread across three acts, and players run through all the high points of the film from beginning to end. The only way to really enjoy the latest film's ludicrous plot is in LEGO form, as it seems this movie was tailor-made to be playfully mocked by characters composed entirely of bricks. If all four films had been given this much time and treated with this much detail, then it's very possible that the end result could have been a compilation worthy of the LEGO Star Wars franchise. Unfortunately, though, the worst movie gets the most attention; it's like awards season all over again.
Most of the missions are the standard "bash your surroundings, beat up bad guys, build stuff to solve puzzles and collect studs" variety, but there are a few notable new features. Indy can now utilize his whip in a couple of ways, and the whole "phobia" system of the first game has been largely eliminated, but aside from that, things are pretty much the same. Even so, there's really nothing wrong or broken about the fundamental LEGO gameplay, so why bother to make sweeping changes? Partner AI could still use some tweaking, but these games are meant to be played in co-op anyway, so it's not that big of a deal.
On the other hand, the developers, in a move that can only be described as utterly stupid, decided that each set of stages also needed a special vehicle level. Now, I'm not saying there's no place for driving in games like this, but Traveller's Tales still hasn't figured out how to handle vehicles in LEGO games yet, and that pattern holds up here. Vehicle controls are sloppy and loose, and you'll spend more time crashing into walls and driving in circles than you will actually working to complete objectives. Every time one of these consistently awful levels popped up, I couldn't help but groan and quietly curse under my breath that I had to go through this abysmal mess of gameplay yet again. The team at Traveller's Tales really needs to stop shoehorning in new ideas that haven't had the kinks worked out yet and just stick with what they know.
There is one new concept that really works this time, and it's almost enough to be the game's saving grace. Rather than progressing linearly through levels, each section of LEGO Indiana Jones 2 features a hub world, through which players can progress the story, discover secrets and collect all of the game's hidden goodies. Whereas other games in the LEGO franchise forced players to replay each stage multiple times with different characters to track down all the goodies, this title hides everything in plain sight, giving you ample reason to explore all the nooks and crannies in the hub. Vehicles, secret characters, colored bricks and bonus levels are all scattered around each hub, and it's quite easy to see hours get sucked away as you frantically search for that last LEGO brick or missing character. The only real complaint that can be leveled against the new hub structure is that the game never bothers to explicitly point out where to find the next level, meaning you may be left lost and wandering at times. During your aimless meandering, you'll likely unlock a handful of new characters and vehicles, so being hopelessly lost never felt so productive.
The game also features a level editor, but like most other things in the title, it's just a halfhearted concept. You can't truly create a brand-new level; you can only tinker with those that already exist, and when you're done, there's no real way to share your creation. Xbox Live doesn't allow any sort of level uploading, and Traveller's Tales hasn't bothered to set up its own system for level sharing either. Ultimately, your creations are yours to enjoy, but no one else will ever get to see them. I guess you can put in all that work for your own personal enjoyment, but don't expect to earn any accolades for your hours and hours of editing.
LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues falls short because not only is it a game that no one asked for, but it's also a game that's mostly already been done. The first LEGO Indiana Jones title did a fair job of showcasing the first three films, meaning that this time around, they're little more than hollow shells. While "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is getting the block treatment for the first time, did anyone really want to play a game based on that abomination of a movie? Furthermore, the game brings very few new ideas to the table, and those that it does showcase mostly fall flat. While the new hubs are a fun idea, they're somewhat difficult to navigate, and any joy they bring is more than offset by the frustration and annoyance of the vehicle levels.
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