LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures Preview
You're already seeing plenty of ads for "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull;" it's Indy's triumphant return nearly 20 years after he hung up his whip. Of course, Traveller's Tales is looking to capitalize on yet another blockbuster movie by issuing one of their consistently entertaining LEGO adaptations: LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, which is bound to deliver exactly what we expect. By now, we're more than familiar with the LEGO games, and each and every one almost always provides a fun, light-hearted, and surprisingly deep experience for one or two players. There's a great deal of charm and appeal in these titles, even when the subject matter of the film in question might be a bit darker. This particular movie makes it easier, though; despite all the action, "Indiana Jones" always had a Disney-esque style of humor and tongue-in-cheek situations (which is what helped make that trilogy great).
Much like LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, this Indy-inspired adventure will separate the first three movies into six episodes per film, which means we'll get two go-rounds each with Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade. As usual, we'll be able to play as several different characters in each episode, and each of these characters should have a different weapon and/or skill at their disposal. Furthermore, Traveller's Tales includes real portions of the movies in the game, which means that fans will instantly recognize each and every episode and environment. We'll be running from that giant stone ball in Raiders, battling possessed cultists on that Satanic-looking alter in Temple, and engaging in multiple Nazi chase scenes in Crusade. Now, we have heard that there will be 60 playable characters in this game, but we really don't remember 60 different characters in the three Indy movies. Perhaps some of them are just fantasy...?
But regardless of who these characters will be, you can bet all the major roles will be filled. And like we said, you'll need to utilize each of their unique skills in order to conquer some of the puzzles, which require a cooperative effort. For example, the singer Willie in Temple has a piercing scream attack (yeah, she was a good screamer), and while she doesn't have the same strength as the main character, she can actually jump further distances. There's a variety of things to think about, although we're wondering if character statistics will have more an impact this time around, and if they can be upgraded in any way. Traveller's Tales is only a tweak away from turning these games into full-on RPGs, and if they made it so we could gain levels and/or unlock new abilities and skills via experience, that might be a desirable trait for fans of the movies. As is, we're just expecting something we've already seen in other LEGO-based games - which is just fine - and that involves character-specific capabilities and the need to experiment with them. On top of which, this opens the door for extremely entertaining two-player experiences, and that's a big bonus for most players.
However, there is a distinct difference between the "Indiana Jones" and "Star Wars" trilogies, and it could transfer over to the game: there's a much greater likelihood for puzzles in the Indy LEGO game, just because there happens to be a lot of puzzles and conundrums in the world of archaeology. Granted, there's always plenty of action in every Indiana Jones movie, but each one also boasts some pretty intriguing puzzle-solving, and we believe we'll see a lot of that in this title. We're still certain the developers will maintain their focus on the standard action we're all used to, but don't be surprised to see a few more puzzles popping up. For example, we know that Marcus Brody has the ability to decode special tablets that unlock doors in the Crusade episodes, and it's likely that Indy's father - played by Sean Connery, remember - will have some other sort of puzzle-solving skill. What about Short Round? Is he just crazy agile and speedy? Or how about the villains? What can they do?
One thing we should probably clarify- while this game is obviously coming out in celebration of the upcoming movie, it's called The Original Adventures for a reason. The game features the original trilogy, and does not include anything from Indy's newest film, although we get the sneaking suspicion that EA or some other big publisher will put out an official game for the movie. And if that happens, based on history, we're pretty certain it won't be anything more than mediocre. But that's where Traveller's Tales and LEGO comes in. While we can't seem to find a decent game based on a blockbuster movie, we can usually turn to the LEGO games for our dose of film-related fun. This game will have all the charisma and allure of any other, and it will surely cater to both die-hard Indy fans and gamers who are just looking for a simple, breezy two-player game for a rainy day. And you'll once again be delightfully surprised at the depth and length, so where's the downside? Well, there have been some control and camera issues in past LEGO installments, but they may have addressed those problems this time around.
LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures is scheduled to arrive on June 3 for all major platforms, and if it doesn't turn out to be a solid game, we'll eat the case it comes in. We're not saying it'll be a masterpiece, but we figure there's a 99% chance it'll be - at the very least - fun.
5/13/2008 Ben Dutka