So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
LucasArts LEGO Indiana Jones: The Videogame
LEGO Indy swings on the scene!
- Incredibly charming personality, challenging and creative puzzles, tons of collectibles and secret areas, great music
- Minor respawn and ally AI issues; no online co-op mode is a huge shame
Gamers of all ages are virtually guaranteed to have fun.
Price$ 89.95 (AUD)
LEGO Star Wars was a stroke of genius. Now the block-obsessed geniuses at Traveler's Tales are back to give another iconic Lucas franchise the LEGO treatment and the end result delivers almost everything a diehard Indiana Jones fan could hope for.
Young at heart
George Lucas has created some memorable characters in his time and surely, part-time archaeology professor and full-time adventurer Indiana Jones ranks right up there as one of his greatest creations. The rough and tumble academic was larger than life and yet, somehow accessible. And just like the cast of Star Wars, Indy retains all of his charm in the transformation from a silver screen legend to a pint-sized LEGO minifigure. If anything, his appeal is actually amplified as every mannerism and expression is wonderfully exaggerated. Don't let the sense of wide-eyed innocence fool you, though: to dismiss this beautifully constructed game as mere child's play would be a grave error. This is one of those rare games that adults can comfortably play with their kids-or in their absence-without feeling like their brains are slowly turning to mush.
Each of the original films gets six missions culled from the series' most spectacular sequences and memorable set-pieces, and Barnett College serves as your base of operations once you've escaped the spear-throwing natives of the Lost Temple. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, and Last Crusade are represented by wall-mounted maps that trace your exploits in bold red travel lines instead of stale load screens, so you can dive right into your favourite movie and its varied locales almost immediately.
Of course, unlike the real Indy, who was a bit of a lone wolf, you don't have to strike out on your blocky adventures alone. Whether you're exploring the treacherous lava-filled caverns of the Temple of Kali or busting your father out of an ancient castle, you'll always have a partner to lend a hand. Working cooperatively is a hallmark of the game's design and each level has plenty of opportunities for you to coordinate your actions. These secondary characters are also rendered with just as much character and personality as the main star and it really is a joy to witness the subtle touches-such as the elder Jones' habit of clutching his aching back after lifting something heavy-that the developers have added in.
This attention to detail is also present in the overall design of the world. From swiping an idol in South America to identifying the Holy Grail, the world of danger and mysticism these characters inhabit is converted to LEGO blocks with obsessive and imaginative care. The levels follow the events of the movie but rather than faithfully recreate each scene, Traveller's Tales took a lot of liberties, injecting the in-game depictions with a welcome dose of creativity and humour. You never know whether the next area will involve brawling with thugs on top of speeding trucks, playing bumper-boats in the canals of Venice, or tearing apart the largest and most wide open LEGO levels yet seen in search of a single missing piece.
Every character also has a unique talent or the ability to wield particular tools and weapons, skills which you'll need to explore confined passages, translate hieroglyphics, blow up special silver pieces, or appease ancient idols. Some now have phobias, too: Indy goes weak-kneed around snakes, and Willie can't hang with spiders, and these psychological obstacles just add another appealing layer to the long sequence of enigmas you'll encounter, even if a handful might try your patience more than your intellect.
Puzzles too often require you to break everything in sight simply to see all the raw pieces arbitrarily hidden inside, but it's hard to give such a flaw much weight when even the most repetitive elements of play remain satisfying after hours on end. On the other hand, it's more than a little aggravating to slide off the edge of a cliff immediately after respawning, or micromanaging a partner that temporarily refuses to follow you, but such frustrations are never frequent enough to become exasperating.
Most gamers can complete the story mode in about ten hours, but this is just the start of LEGO Indiana Jones' offering. The world is filled to overflowing with hidden nooks and crannies, optional collectibles, and amusing references. Once you've completed a mission, it becomes available for "free play" mode, which lets characters shape-shift between a larger collection of minifigures with the push of a button. If you're to find all ten artifact pieces hidden in each level, or discover all the concealed packages of power, you'll need to retrace your steps and solve the shrewdly intricate puzzles you lacked the requisite personnel to assail the first time through.
LEGO Indiana Jones isn't without its flaws-the lack of online co-op is almost criminal-but it so beautifully mixes the spirit of a beloved adventure series with the playful heart of cherished childhood toys that it feels like much more than the sum of its angular parts. The tone might be almost overwhelmingly saccharine sweet, with even the caricature Nazis of the films stripped of their insignia and leering malice, but all gamers, young or old, are virtually guaranteed a great time.
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