I'm a pretty big Indy fan, so getting the chance to play LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues is right up my alley. I grew up on the films, and "I've watched Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Temple of Doom," and "The Last Crusade" numerous times. I'm even a little more apologetic of the shortcomings found in "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" than the average person. It's definitely the worst of the bunch, but there was enough classic Indy charm to it that I was still entertained.
When LEGO Indiana Jones 2 was announced, I immediately assumed it was going to focus entirely on the fourth film, since the first LEGO Indiana Jones was about the first three movies. When I found out prior to release that they were still going to include segments of the original three, I thought it might be a little redundant to tread old ground again. I've played a number of the LEGO-themed titles at this point, with LEGO Batman easily being my favorite of the bunch. One thing that I've noticed between every release, though, is that they're not necessarily reinventing the wheel with every entry. There are minor upgrades and certain things are tweaked, but for the most part, the games are nearly interchangeable. LEGO Indiana Jones 2 sticks to that philosophy; there are some interesting changes from the previous game, and there's a much-needed upgrade to the way co-op works, but apart from that, it feels much like any other Traveler's Tales game. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but if you feel that the games have grown a little stale by now, this might not be your cup of tea.
Before we delve into the small changes, let's talk a little about how a LEGO game actually works, if you've never played one before. I'll assume that you're already familiar with the various themed sets that LEGO produces every year in its toy line, which in turn seems to be the basis for these games. In LEGO Indiana Jones 2, that really holds true; as you unlock the various movies in the franchise, they're displayed in the big warehouse screen as actual set boxes of LEGO toys. Like the toys, the characters in the game take on exaggerated versions of their real-life counterparts. We know that the Indy character is Indy because he has the traditional hat, beard scruff and whip. A few characters in this game suffer a little bit of an identity crisis; it's easy to pick out characters like Marion and Short Round, but some of the unlockable soldier guys are a little too similar in appearance. Once you jump into your first game, which starts you off in the intro to "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," you'll be shown the partner system that most of the LEGO games have had up to this point. If you're playing by yourself, you'll be partnered up with an AI character, which is usually a story-specific character for that particular point in the story. You can switch between characters on the fly by pressing the C button on the Nunchuk, and each character has a specific ability to make him or her unique.
Of course, Indy has his whip, which can be used to hit certain objects, pull on levers and tie up enemies to make them easy targets. The previous game made you stand on selected points to use the whip, while this title makes use of the Wii Remote to let you aim your whip a little more freely. You hold down the B button on the remote, a small aiming reticle will pop up, and you can move your pointer around the screen. The reticle will turn white to highlight objects that you can interact with, and you'll find yourself using this function for everything, from basic puzzle-solving to boss fights. Likewise, other characters will have some really useful abilities, like the innate female character ability to jump higher, so it pays to play as different characters, especially if you're trying to uncover hard-to-find LEGO pieces.
Also, like most of the LEGO games, LEGO Indiana Jones 2 makes use of hub worlds, but this time, it does so for each of the four films. For instance, when you jump into the world of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," you'll start off at Marion's bar, which is in itself a level and boss fight, and then move from there to the various locales seen in the movie. It excludes some content from the previous game, so you won't see an Alfred Molina cameo here. The hub world basically takes small representations of the stages and places them on the map, but at the same time, the hub is also full of unlockable and hidden stuff, such as new characters and items. Not all of it will be accessible right away; you won't be able to access a lot of things until you unlock the character who has the required ability. This just adds to the overall replay value of the experience, allowing you to take multiple trips through the hub and some levels to uncover everything that the game has to offer. Much of it is cosmetic window dressing, but there are a number of unlockable characters for each of the four films, so it's worth checking out because of their different play styles.
Just like the previous games, there is a heavy emphasis on environment destruction and the collection of small LEGO pieces throughout the entire level. I'd liken it a bit to what the Ratchet and Clank games have with their bolt collection, which I didn't notice until I recently played through A Crack in Time. A majority of the objects you'll find in each stage are breakable, and upon smashing them, they'll unleash a number of LEGO bricks, which add to your overall tally at the top of the screen. They act like in-game currency for anything you can unlock, from characters to vehicles, so it's beneficial to collect as many as you can. They also act like rings in the Sonic the Hedgehog games, in that when you die, you'll respawn but shed a certain number of LEGO bricks each time. You can re-collect them if you're able, but they'll disappear quickly so chances are that you're bound to lose a few. Along with the LEGO bricks, you'll come across actual in-game LEGO sets that need to be constructed. You'll typically notice these as piles of bouncing LEGOs, highlighting that they can be used. By holding down the Z button, you'll start to build them; they're usually something that you can use to pass one of the various puzzles or use against a boss in a fight.
The majority of LEGO Indiana Jones 2 focuses on "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," but as you complete each main chapter of that story, you'll also unlock one of the other three films. You can switch between any of these from the menu, so you don't need to finish "Raiders" to check out "Temple," and so on. However, the three older films are definitely shorter campaigns than "Crystal Skull," but the game doesn't retread over stuff that was already covered in the prior title. At the same time, it takes definite liberties with the events of all four films, so you'll come across some fights and creatures that weren't actually present in the movies. This fits in with the comical approach that all the LEGO games have had, so I can't see anyone having a problem with this unless you're a die-hard purist.
One final and cool addition to LEGO Indiana Jones 2 comes in the form of the level creator. Allowing you to freely play with virtual groups of LEGO blocks is certainly something that I'd have liked to see in the games by now, and since it's finally present here, I'm happy to say it's pretty well-implemented. It's a little tricky to get the hang of, and it could do with a little more of a tutorial, but if you spend some time with it, you'll be able to come up with some interesting scenarios of your own. However, there is no way to share these levels online, so all of this hard work will be for naught.
As for the change in co-op, previous LEGO games allowed both players to occupy one screen space. If you happened to movie another player off the screen by moving forward too fast, then he or she would die and respawn closer to you, but at a penalty of collected LEGO bricks. This time, the game will simply split into two screens when you're far enough away from the other player, avoiding the unnecessary death penalty of the previous titles. It's another addition to the series that has been a long time coming, and I'm glad to see it.
Overall, LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues is a great addition to Traveler's Tales LEGO games and a fun follow-up to first LEGO Indy title. The small gameplay changes might not be significant for those who have grown tired of the formula, but people who still enjoy them will find that the new stuff makes enough of a change to improve the playability, which is never a bad thing. It's definitely worth seeking out, whether you're a fan or a new player of the LEGO titles. It's certainly a game that I plan on enjoying for a little while longer.
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