Growing up, I was a big fan of the Indiana Jones TRILOGY. That’s right, I say TRILOGY, because I vehemently refuse to admit that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is anything other than the shameless beating of a dead cash cow. To some extent, so is Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, but since it covers the movie material I loved so dearly, I’m willing to let it slide. Riding piggyback to the immense popularity of Lego Star Wars, both the original and the new piece of crap trilogy (detecting a theme here?), Lego Indiana Jones brings you more of the same. A lot more.
The biggest new addition that’s been brought to the series is phobias, which offer up some new aspects to puzzle solving. Indy, for all his heroics, still has a fear of snakes, and if you go anywhere near them, he’ll lock up faster than an Xbox 360. The challenge comes in finding a way around them or using another character to clear them out or to create a new path. Overall, the puzzles in this game are pretty top notch. They’re clever without being ridiculously hard and the hard ones have been fortunately relegated to side missions and bonus missions. This allows you to solve the complicated ones at your discretion and not hinder the progression of the story.
The story loosely follows the movies, though some scenes are disappointingly absent, by which I mean the Ark melting faces and Mola Ram removing hearts. Still, Indy gets chased by a boulder, and the cutscenes are remarkably well done. Humorous and cute while still pushing the story forward, they never seem out of place or forced. In general, the whole game is cute and humorous, and it includes some subtle references to the Lego Star Wars games and even allows you to unlock a Lego Star Wars character (I’ll let you figure out who on your own).
The biggest aspect of this game is the amount of stuff that can be unlocked and discovered. Playing through the story mode without unlocking secrets as you go along would probably yield only a 25% completion rating. With 50 some characters to unlock and gobs of treasures to be found in the 18 core levels, the replay value of this game is over the top. Trying to find all the secrets on your first play through a level is not only daunting, but impossible, just like in Lego Star Wars. Characters you don’t have in story mode are needed to solve puzzles in free play mode, so every level requires a minimum of two shots.
The graphics are pretty standard faire for this generation of consoles, and since we’re playing with Legos, I wouldn’t expect the graphic engines to blow out on this one. Still, everything looks crisp and clean, and there is a good distinction between background elements and Lego elements, making it easier to bust things up. The sound effects are good and all the Indiana Jones music is present, although the Indiana Jones franchise tune pops up a little too often in free play mode. It’s fun the first time you swing across a chasm, but it’s far less effective when you’re hitting barrels with shovels for the 90th time.
The developers did make some half-hearted use of the motion controls to fling your whip or dig like a shovel, but it’s easily and quickly forgotten. The standard controller scheme works well enough, so the motion controls are not worth using, which is a testament to the appropriateness of the control scheme. As in the previous Lego titles, the AI sucks, and this time it feels even worse. Getting a friend to pick up another controller almost feels like a necessity this time around, or, for GameCola readers, picking up another controller and playing both characters yourself.
Ultimately, if you enjoyed the Lego Star Wars titles, you’re going to enjoy this game as well, even if you don’t have the same fanboy nostalgia here compelling you to play. At full price, it’s a good buy, because the replay value makes it worth the money and leaves you with hours and hours of stuff to do. If you are new to the series, it’s probably best rented or purchased used, although renting the game will not give you enough time to uncover everything.