Mar 8

Written by: Brian Wray
3/8/2010 1:37 AM  RssIcon

Box Art
"The Adventure Continues"
LEGO Indiana Jones 2
Release Date: November 17, 2009
Developer: Traveller's Tales
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
LEGO games are quite fun, but after two Star Wars, a Batman and an Indiana Jones title, the franchise is starting to feel a bit stale. It was for this very reason I did not jump into “LEGO Indiana Jones 2: the Adventure Continues” right away. I was fully expecting the new game to simply be a clone of the first Indiana Jones' game with the addition of six new chapters representing the fourth movie. Boy was I wrong.

For those who played the first LEGO Indiana Jones’ game, or any of the LEGO Star Wars games, know that this new title is not as much a retelling of the familiar trilogy as did past LEGO titles, more of a LEGO game set in an Indiana Jones environment. The game should not be considered canon as it takes many freedoms to change the story as needed. One prime example of this was the addition of boss battles to each story, something that was not present in the movie. I personally found these changes to the original source to be fun. When I played with LEGOs back in my younger years, I would often recreate my favourite movie scenes the way I thought they should have played out, not necessarily how they happened. To me it makes perfect sense that the game should also play that way.

The graphics in LEGO Indiana Jones 2 have been pumped up a few notches. The character and destructible world items look the same as was always, but the environments have greatly benefited from the last outing. The game also appears to have been developed for the PS3 and Xbox 360 before being ported to the other consoles rather than the other way around. One scene in particular that comprises of thousands of bugs on screen all at once is extremely impressive. Sound quality also appears to have improved a bit since the last outing, but sound was never an issue with LEGO games.
The biggest change with LEGO Indiana Jones 2 is in the presentation of the game and the telling of the story. In past game, Traveler’s Tales would provide a hub that contained different sections or rooms for each story arc with each section containing doorways to each chapter for that story. Hidden in these chapters were collectible canisters and coloured bricks to collect. This template provided for some good fun, but as I indicated previously, after four titles the formula started to feel a dated. This is something that has been addressed in LEGO Indiana Jones 2.

Now each story arc has its own main hub. It is these hubs that make this new LEGO game feel so different from the others. Gone are the series of doors that can be played consecutively to complete a story arc. In this new hub the story is told by having the player explore each area. Each hub not only contains the chapters needed to complete each movie, but a whole range of bonus and secret areas as well. Bonus levels will unlock LEGO characters or vehicles once completed. Some particular characters are required to continue the story forcing the playing to locate and complete these bonus levels to continue the main quest. Each game area also contains a series of races that require a particular vehicle to complete that will reward the player with a LEGO character. Each game hub contains ten hidden red, blue and green bricks. When all ten bricks of one colour have been uncovered, it will unlock a package that can be purchased to provide game extras that can be used to modify the game such as stud multipliers, quick building skills and disguises for all LEGO characters. This is not really new as these extras were available in previous games by finding the hidden red bricks in game levels. It just appears to make more sense having them hidden in the game world instead of a level. The presentation may have changed, but the gameplay has not. The goal is still to destroy everything that can be destroyed to collect LEGO studs while solving simplistic puzzles. It is a golden formula that never appears to tire.
Part of the fun derived from LEGO games was seeing parts of a level that could not be reached during the regular play trough requiring a return trip in freeplay mode to unlock and discover all hidden secrets (once the correct characters are available of course). Game levels no longer contain any inaccessible secret areas; this has now been confined to each game hub. Freeplay is also gone, replaced with Treasure mode in that completing the challenge will unlock a treasure chest. Collecting all the treasure chests for a level will unlock a bonus level in which the goal is to collect 1 million studs. This bonus level did exist in past games, but LEGO Indiana Jones 2 has one such bonus level for each story arc (six in total). Replaying levels will require a bit of planning as only the character being controlled and his/her follower can be used to complete a given level. The required special character may be wondering around anywhere in the game hub forcing the player to hunt him/her down. Some gamers may find this process tedious; I found it added to the adventure element of the game.

Playing LEGO games is a great way to spend time with family members that may not be hardcore gamers. Just about everyone loves the titles. But playing with a non-gamer can be frustrating as they tend to get stuck a lot in certain areas forcing the more experience gamer to wait patiently. This is not a problem with LEGO Indiana Jones 2. The game offers split screen action allowing two players to do their own thing. The screen will actually go from joined to split as the players become separated and then rejoin when they do. It is all very cool. My one complaint here is that the game does not any online multiplayer gaming option.
Another new element to a LEGO game is the level editor. Now players can create their own mini LEGO universes complete with objectives to challenge their friends and family members. The editor is simple to use and allows for some fairly complex levels even allowing for terrain deformation. Creating a level really brings out the feeling of playing with the actual bricks. This fun will quickly wane once players discover that there is not way to easily share their creations with other players as once again the game is clueless about the existence of the Internet. This is an unfortunate oversight that really limits the actual usefulness of the editor. After all, who would want to replay a level they created?

Unfortunately LEGO Indiana Jones 2 also introduced one more element that is new to the franchise, one not so desirable. The game has a tendency to freeze up a lot. In part 3 of the “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, the game would constantly freeze up on me, even though the game was installed to the hard drive. I tried the game in each of my three consoles with the same result. This freeze up would only happen in that one particular chapter. I skipped this chapter and played the rest of the game. When there was nothing else to play I returned to the problematic area with intentions of finishing it, indifferent of the cost. Two more freezes later and my savegame became corrupt. This was a game ender. A quick search of the Internet reveals this is a widespread issue on the Xbox 360. The PS3 version does not appear affected.

Overall LEGO Indiana Jones 2 does not re-invent the LEGO franchise just gives it a much needed face-lift. Now if only Traveller’s Tales can find that fine balance between the story telling LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Trilogy and the adventuring of LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues in time for LEGO Harry Potter: Year 1-4, and correct any freezing issues, I will be a very very happy camper indeed. As for this game, I cannot recommend it to anyone because of the freezing problems.
--Brian Wray

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