The Consensus: Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues Review «

GameSpy’s Take

The original Lego Indiana Jones game, which covered the first three films in the Indy film franchise, was released a couple weeks after “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” hit theaters. Naturally, everyone assumed that we would eventually see a videogame sequel that allowed us to play through a Lego-ized version of that most recent film. As expected, Lego Indiana Jones 2 has arrived, and in addition to the “Crystal Skull” content, it revisits the first three films as well.

Those who have played the previous game need not worry about duplicate content, though. Developer Traveller’s Tales has created all-new levels for “Raiders,” “Temple of Doom,” and “Last Crusade.” But the emphasis is clearly on “Crystal Skull.” To put it in perspective, the game is divided into six segments, with the first three movies getting their own segments while “Crystal Skull” is divided into three chunks. Some quick math tells you that roughly half the game is “Skull”-based.

The three “classic” movie segments feature extremely abbreviated versions of the stories, and it’s sometimes strange to see which narrative segments didn’t make the cut. For instance, the classic boulder chase from “Raiders” is not a playable stage this time. Weird, right? Perhaps the idea is to make sure that people still want to play the original game. Even with the occasional curious cut, the classic stages are still plenty of fun. The game takes a few liberties with the movies’ plots (I don’t recall Mola Ram magically controlling a giant, flaming statue in “Temple of Doom”), but the changes are all made with the same tongue-in-cheek humor that is a staple of the Lego game series.

The basic game archetype that has served the Lego games so well through three Star Wars titles, a Batman game, and the first Indiana Jones adventure remains mostly unchanged here. As always, you lead movie-themed Lego Minifigures though each stage, utilizing their specific skills to solve a variety of puzzles while building useful items out of stray Lego bricks and collecting Lego studs (the in-game currency). It never gets too difficult, and you’re not severely punished for dying, making this a great game for younger players. The simple pick-up-and-play action is also readily enjoyable by adults as well, and the multiplayer option — with a very welcome new split-screen mode — makes it a terrific family game.

Even if the core gameplay is the same, Traveller’s Tales has made some drastic changes to the game’s hub system, which has been mostly the same since the original Lego Star Wars. Before, the hub world was basically a large room with doors that led to smaller rooms and into the levels. Although it was all pretty neat to gawk at, there ultimately wasn’t much to do in the hub. Now, each film (or film segment in the case of the three-part “Crystal Skull”) has its own hub, which is a large stage unto itself. Instead of merely acting as a gateway to a stage, the hub is now a place to explore, filled with its own traps and puzzles, most of which unlock bonus levels, new vehicles, new characters, and cheats. Despite the hubs’ large size, it’s never difficult to find the next story-based level (though the bonus rounds often require a little extra effort). This added element of exploration adds a whole new level of interactivity to the game and makes the overall package feel more fleshed-out.

The hubs aren’t the only things that have changed, though, as the levels are now shorter in general. In the previous Lego games (the first Indy and Lego Batman being prime examples), some of the stages tended to drag on a little too long. Given that the Lego games are designed so that each stage must be played through multiple times in order to unlock all of the secrets, this resulted in a feeling of tedium after a while. Now the stages have been dramatically shortened, with some being reduced to just a boss fight or a survival mode-style test of endurance as you take on waves of enemies. And although shortened stages might seem like a liability at first, in practice they work quite well (especially during replays). To compensate for the shortened stages, many more of them fill the hub worlds than in previous games.

The only real frustrating moment comes in the vehicle-centric stages, which occur once per story mode segment. No matter the vehicle, the poor controls usually have you weaving wildly about the road. This oversensitive steering often caused me to repeatedly flip over as I attempted to turn corners. Brief though they may be, the vehicle stages are an unwelcome break in the normally solid action.

LucasArts is quick to boast about the game’s new level-creation tool, and it is a wonderful idea… on paper. Unfortunately, the tools used to design your own stages are extremely cumbersome, making it a lot more trouble than it’s worth. Compound that with the fact that you can’t trade your custom stages online and you end up with a mode that you might look at once or twice before forgetting about.

Even so, there’s little need to make your own stages. The game is already full of them, and they kept me plenty busy throughout. The established Lego game design wasn’t broken, but, after so many games, it was beginning to get a bit stale. Those used to the previous titles might feel a bit disoriented at first, but you’ll soon settle in and begin having fun exploring the large hubs and condensed levels. Now here’s the big question: how long before we can expect a Lego version of “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”?


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