Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures
Developer Travellers Tales Publisher Lucas Arts Genre Action Platform Nintendo DS Release Out Now
Lego has found themselves something good with film-based Lego adventure games. Lego Star Wars was a fantastic idea and was easily a very innovative and fun game with lots of humour. Now with the release of the latest Indiana Jones film, Travellers Tales and Lego have partnered up once again to bring you Lego Indiana Jones. Sadly, the DS version of the game doesn't shape up well...
Blowing up lego bricks must be one hell of a task...
The game consists of the 3 main plot lines from the original trilogy of Indiana Jones films, as did Lego Star Wars, the films being (if you don't remember): Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. There are 6 chapters to each story, but don't be too worried, each chapter lasts long enough. In the chapters you will meet familiar faces from the movies as well as controlling many of them later in the game. Chapters can be played two different ways, Story Mode where you follow the story of the game, you're given what characters to play as and you unlock new story chapters by completing them and then you have Free Mode where you can create a custom character in the college (map screen, acts as the stage select and other various menus but plays like an actual level does) and bring along a partner of your choice to use their special abilities to enter previously unobtainable areas during Story Mode.
Activities in chapters aren't very varied. You'll mostly find yourself solving easy to medium difficulty puzzles and fighting baddies, sometimes both at the same time. Puzzle solving is usually nothing more than pushing blocks, hitting switches or using character's special abilities. To use character abilities, one must stand on a coloured panel and preform an action on the touch screen. One problem with the game is the fact it tells you to use your thumb to preform the action on the touch screen. It's just a damn shame that the game is very and I mean VERY unresponsive. Mercifully, the game allows you to bypass this action and just press "A" when standing on the coloured panels. It saves time and also is 1000% more responsive.
Along the way, you'll pick up items such as maps, artefacts and red blocks. Collecting these mostly do nothing, red blocks unlock new content to be bought by collecting 'stubs', a kind of currency the game uses. This is an attempt to prolong the playtime and replay value of the game. However, a normal player wont care much for that. Overall time to complete Story Mode is about 5 hours for an average player, that's including time taken to get enough Stubs to acquire "Adventurer Story" ranking (each chapter has a certain amount of stubs to acquire to get the special ranking. At the end of the chapter, if the rank is achieved, the player is rewarded with a 'golden block'. These go towards a players overall completion percentage).
Controls, are probably one of the biggest let downs of this game. Mixed with the incompetent AI system of both enemies and allies, the game can sometimes drive you to despair trying to navigate your way through stages. Early on you will feel these controls hampering the experience of the game. The controls are sometimes too sensitive for their own good, you will find yourself falling off cliffs, hitting spikes and getting caught on scenery. Fighting is something you'll be doing a lot in the game... But it's awful. Enemies can kill you if they get a single hit on you, dodging attacks are near impossible and when hit, controls are locked for a second, in that time the computer can get another hit in until your life is all but gone. When you die, you loose studs. Thankfully, there are no game overs, though.
Oh joy, platforming!
Visuals, the game's visuals are a huge positive. There are helpings of pre-rendered video, but their quality isn't fantastic but are the main 'funny' parts of the game. The humour is subtle and the lack of information given to a player can sometimes be confusing. It would sure be a help if I had re-watched all the Indiana Jones films before playing Lego Indiana Jones, it would have helped explain what's going on in the game a lot more. It would have been nice to have a few captions telling you what you're doing, what's going on, etc. However, that would have meant tedious conversations between characters, killing the flow of the game. So if you want the story as well as the humour and the unique game flow... Watch the films before hand. In-game graphics are very clear for a DS game. Definitely one of it's stronger points.
Sound, the sound is recorded real-life music tracks, not DS sound chip music. This is a double edged sword for the game. It's a plus, because it uses actual Indiana Jones film music, however after a minute or so, you realise the music is just looping over and over. By the time the chapter is over, you're bored of the music. On your second play through you just want to mute the music. Sound effects aren't anything out of the ordinary, and it would have been nice to have a few more different character voices for enemies and players.
Ba-ba-baaa dum dum de-dee...
One last good but slightly bad point about the game is the fact that, for a DS game, the world is very destructible. You can punch or whip parts of the scenery to make them explode into bits and studs. Nearly everything is destructible Now, while this is endless fun for those who want something to keep them occupied, later in the game, the game expects you to just destroy things on the off-chance to progress. Switches and other items can be made from the destroyed parts of scenery, there's nothing different about these types of scenery and normal, destructible scenery which leaves behind only studs. It can annoy you to no end trying to figure out how to progress in one section, just to find you had to destroy a bookcase, which in logical terms, is three times the size of you and shouldn't really be destructible by a simple punch... But, whatever.
Overall then, the game is very much flawed. Controls are awful, bosses in the game are tedious, touch screen is useless, there are some mini-games, but these are annoying. There are apparent glitches, you can get stuck in walls, stuck on scenery, you can end up in endless death loops, what this means is that when you die by falling off a cliff or on spikes, you can respawn just on the edge of the scenery/death area and the second you move... Death. During mini-games, which usually consist of driving 2D-GTA-over-head style (controls are awful, by the way. Also, you can destroy SOME scenery, but other scenery hurts you. It's hard to tell which is which. Yippee!), I got caught on a bit of scenery in one of them and unable to free myself. Since this mini-game was part of Story Mode, I couldn't just quit, else I'd have to do the whole level again.
So, is this game worth it? Probably not. The game's 5 hour game time may seem appealing for a handheld adventure game, however a good load of that time is spent destroying scenery, if you find that boring... You're in for a shock. The game also has a lot of good ideas, but they are all ideas lifted from Lego Star Wars. There's not really much new or innovative off the original Lego Star Wars games and unfortunately, the Lego Star Wars DS game is far better. How they botched this, I have no idea. But they have. Get or not to get? Not at full price, unless you're a die-hard Indy fan, but even then I would be wary.