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Old 05-06-2008
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LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures Xbox 360 Game

Traveller's Tales is back and tackling the plastic building block world again. After exhausting the Star Wars franchise with no less than three LEGO Star Wars releases, the company has worked with LucasArts on bringing another of its franchises to the peg-filled universe with LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures.

If you've played any of the LEGO Star Wars titles, you'll feel right at home as the formula has largely remained exactly the same, right down to the control scheme. There is a bit more adventuring this time around however, with more emphasis placed on solving puzzles and collecting keys or parts to unlock the next area, though mashing everything in sight and collecting as many Studs as possible is still the main gameplay focus.



lego indiana jones the video game COVER image


In LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures you maneuver a chunky Indy across some familiar landscapes from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. (His latest adventure, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, is surely destined for inclusion in a future release.) You start out in the famous jungle and cave sequence from Lost Ark, fighting your way through booby traps before running away from a giant boulder - now rather blockier than it was on-film.

Overall the game stays quite true to the films, meaning you’ll get to take part in many of their most memorable sequences, like the crazy mine cart chase in Temple of Doom. Just like in the films those scenes are ridiculously deadly, however this time Indy won’t be quite so lucky. You’ll die an awful, awful lot here, usually by traipsing over a ledge into a bottomless pit. Thankfully each death just results in the loss of a few points; your character quickly re-assembled and returned to duty.


lego indiana jones the video game image

There are 60 characters to earn, of course, but in an Indiana Jones game you're always going to want to play as Indiana Jones. Unlocking characters like Dancing Girl or British Soldier is therefore more of a completist's errand than a collector's dream. Considering part of the fun of LEGO Star Wars was still discovering and unlocking fun new things to do even after hours and hours of play, this feels like a step backwards. If variety is the spice of life then LEGO Indy offers salt and pepper, not sweet red chilli and ginger.


Characters will have different reactions to the wildlife you encounter

Best of all, if you’re a fan of the flicks, you’ll enjoy how Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures presentation not only honors them, but in fact adds to them with satirical and humorous presentations. Just the fact of seeing the familiar characters in Lego form is enjoyable enough, but when some of our favorite scenes are twisted just enough to make often sly comedy, you have to tip your dusty fedora to the creators at LucasArts and developer Traveller’s Tales.


LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures screenshot

There are two main modes in Lego Indy (as we’ll call it for simplicity). The primary path is through the Story Mode; in fact, you can’t do anything until you play the first level that way. Once you’re through that initial section, you’ll unlock the rest of the movies. Each section of a movie that you complete also opens up that area for playthrough in Free Play Mode, which will be explained shortly.

Like the earlier LEGO games there are dozens of characters to unlock and control, with different ones having different abilities. Indy naturally has his whip, which he can use to grab objects or swing across chasms. Small characters like Short Round can fit through tiny openings, female characters like Marion Ravenwood are able to jump higher and grab hanging vines, and bad guys like Mola Ram can get past guards that good guys can’t. Naturally, you’ll want to unlock them all, plus all the other goodies on offer here, which will take more than a few play-throughs.


Jones The Original Adventures Don t stop for anything

Even though the adventuring is more streamlined this time, the obstacles you'll encounter are quite diverse. Every level seems to throw a new trick your way that will continually keep you on your toes. The most amusing puzzles involve the severe phobias with which certain characters are cursed. Indiana has no fear swinging across molten lava with his whip or leaping over spikes while being run down by a giant boulder, but if you put a snake in front of him, he'll become nearly catatonic. The boss battles also provide a unique twist in every encounter. From having to figure out how to hurt a man who can regenerate his health to fighting against someone who won't stop jumping, these encounters serve as a fun diversion you'll have to solve quickly, lest you find your Lego head popped clean off. Other sections have you using elephants to cross mud, driving a motorcycle while being chased by a group of bikers, and trying to get a monkey to part with some dynamite. There is also a nauseatingly awesome mine cart ride in The Temple of Doom section that, though brief, is quite exhilarating.


LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures wallpaper

Though the puzzle aspects alone are enough to make Lego Indy worthwhile, the humor makes it enjoyable even for people just watching the action. The silent cutscenes take you through the journey in a much sillier manner than Steven Spielberg originally envisioned.Adding a bit more character to the main cast are phobias that a couple of them have. Indy, for instance, is afraid of snakes, while Willie is scared of spiders. Both will cower in fear when near them, so you'll need to use another character to either clear the way or go ahead and solve a puzzle without them. It's a small touch, but one that works well to bring about some of the characters' traits from the films to the game. Since the characters don't really talk though, Short Round lacks his funny quips and just winds up being short. Oh well.


The mine cart will make your stomach churn in a good way

In fact, the puzzles are most of the enjoyment, because with every bouncing pile of Lego bricks you see, you have no idea what it’ll become when you set your character to throwing the pieces together. There’s nothing you have to do beyond holding a button down to get this shuffle complete in the right form, but it’s still fun to watch. And there are often puzzles tied together.

It's worth playing the levels a few times just to pick up on all the references, but there is a much more tangible reason than that: They are jam packed with hidden goodies. It's actually impossible to get all the bonus items your first time. There are a number of different character-specific traits, so you'll have to unlock Free mode to see all that every level has to offer. The different traits help keep the tasks varied throughout the game. Indiana has his trusty whip, which can not only help him swing across gaps and grab objects from far away, but can also bring the ladies closer (and steal a quick kiss). There are also scholars who can decrypt hieroglyphics, smaller-sized characters who can squeeze through tiny spaces, craftsmen equipped with a wrench or a shovel, and bad guys who can enter secret Thuggie doors. You'll be lucky to finish 50 percent of this game your first time through, so it's overflowing with replay value.


A LEGO elephant with indiana Jones on its back

All of which acts as both a blessing and a curse for LEGO Indiana Jones. It has a tried and trusted gameplay system to build on (no pun intended, honest) but it also has a lot of expectation to live up to. The good news is that the gameplay is both comfortingly familiar and suitably evolved. The Indiana Jones movies are rather light on aliens, robots and magic space monks so the template of using certain character types to access specific areas has had to change, and it's a change for the better. Indy's all-human cast now enjoys a more democratic gameplay design, with the most common abilities available to all - provided you can find the right tool for the job. You can now pick up a shovel, or a spanner, or even a weapon and keep it with you as you explore. Pistols, machineguns and bazookas can be swiped from enemies and tucked away for later. Swords and spears can be wielded in combat, or thrown to cut important ropes or chains. There are still some elements that are restricted - the handful of women can jump higher than blokes and you still need an enemy uniform to open certain areas - but for the most part progress is now dictated by items rather than characters.


LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures snapshot

The LEGO games have never been lookers, per se, but they’ve always had solid graphics and, most importantly, a great style accenting the notion of an evilly possessed LEGO play set. Original Adventures definitely continues the trend, delivering the same sort of clean and goofy looking graphics seen in the Star Wars games. Each character’s simple animations deliver a ton of personality, and while the environments are a bit flat, they set the scene well.

The audio front is a bit of a disappointment, though. Like in the Star Wars games, nobody ever speaks beyond a snicker or grunt, but it’s not the lack of dialog that hurts this one. Surprisingly, it’s the soundtrack. The Indiana Jones theme is about as iconic as they come in Hollywood, but hearing it on endless loop while you battle a stream of re-spawning goons can make it grate on the nerves very quickly. Sound effects, too, are somewhat limited, a pale comparison to the crashes and explosions in the films.


LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures photo

A somewhat big difference between the Star Wars and Indiana Jones LEGO games is the focus of combat. While most characters either had a lightsaber or blaster in the Star Wars titles, the combat in LEGO Indy is largely hand-to-hand. You can pick up guns that enemies drop, but they're only good for a few shots before they expire. While this is mostly fine, it can be a little frustrating when there are a group of armed enemies on-screen and you have no choice but to repeatedly jump while running at them in order to try and dodge their shots. You will inevitably get hit and probably even die a few times in the scuffle. While you have infinite lives of course, it's still frustrating to know that you don't really have a good chance of coming out unscathed in these encounters and simply have to bear down and charge until everyone is dead.
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Old 05-06-2008
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LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures image

That's a lot of features to lose, especially since these elements were integral in boosting the longevity of LEGO Star Wars, not only by giving you more things to do, but also by dishing out gold bricks for successful play, which could then be cashed in for yet more shiny new stuff. Kids love collecting things, earning new things to play with, and LEGO Indiana Jones ultimately feels rather thin on that front. All you get to unlock are a short bonus level based on the Young Indy prologue from The Last Crusade, an open-plan LEGO Ancient City to muck about in and - when you collect all the artefacts in the game - a slightly clumsy race track construction set. All are enjoyable, but it does mean that most players will have seen everything on offer all too soon.

Each movie is, as with Star Wars, divided up into six levels with the first generally being easier (in case someone opts not to play the movies in linear order) with the last being tougher. Tough is relative, of course, but there were more levels that had me scratching my head here than in LEGO Star Wars. Progress is less linear, while the ability to pick up and carry items means that objectives can now be scattered around a larger playing area, forcing you to explore your surroundings more thoroughly. Teamwork is also more important, with more puzzles that require one character to help the other past hazards. The AI on the non-player characters isn't always great in this regard, sometimes getting in your way or wandering out of range, but the fantastic drop-in gameplay means that parents can easily offer as much assistance as is required to get things back on track.


LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures pics

The overall feel of the game is one of straight-up fun. It has no pretensions – it's a kids' game that is meant to provide a good time. The majority of the game is good clean fun that avoids being condescending. It's just challenging enough that it keeps you interested; easy enough that it keeps you moving. That's the majority of the game.

There were, alas, some head versus wall incidents prompted by the puzzle sections. You know those points in games when you think the developers have just done something horrendously wrong and there's literally no way to get any further? I experienced a couple of those. There were certain points where I was sure that there was actually something wrong with the game - some crucial, puzzle-solving object was surely missing - and I had to walk away then come back later with a fresh brain
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