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Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures
Reviewed by Jacob Spindel, June 2008
Developed by Traveller's Tales
Published by LucasArts
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Release Date: June 2008
Indiana Jones: a legendary hero, brave adventurer, box-office smash - and also a miniaturized Lego toy. Indy has indeed followed in the plastic footsteps of Lego Star Wars and is now starring in his own series of Lego-based video game adventures. Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures for PSP retells the stories of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade in a slightly sillier world where everyone and everything is made of Legos. By providing expansive, detailed levels and multiple layers of gameplay, Lego Indiana Jones proves itself as a thrilling action/adventure game.
Take This Treasure And Shovel It!
Lego Indiana Jones provides six levels for each of the three movies, for a total of 18 primary levels. As with Lego Star Wars, two modes are available. In Story Mode, you replay each scene using the appropriate characters from the movie; once you have completed a level in Story Mode, you can also access Free Play, in which you play through the scenes using any characters you want. As in Lego Star Wars, you can switch control between the characters currently playing at will, and the computer takes control of the other character(s). In addition to battling the bad guys, each level also requires you to solve puzzles involving challenges like locating items, assembling Legos, and remember patterns in order to find your way out. Mastering the game takes more than mere survival, though, since you'll also need to collect artifacts, money, and other items.
Some of the gameplay elements from Lego Star Wars didn't make the cut this time around. For example, Challenge and Super Story modes are now history. (This also means there aren't any modes that don't permit Extras.) Additionally, whereas each level of Lego Star Wars had two different monetary goals for achieving the True Jedi ranking (one for each mode), levels in Lego Indiana Jones have only a single goal for obtaining the title of True Adventurer. Also, Lego Indiana Jones doesn't have anything similar to the golden bricks in Lego Star Wars that served as a general representation of total progress. However, gameplay overall is very similar to Lego Star Wars; in fact, the game even includes a few wacky crossovers (Did you spot Club Obi-Wan?).
Obviously, you won't get to use the Force or lightsabers this time around either, but Indiana Jones adds the new element of digging abilities, which you'll use to find artifacts and other items, serving a purpose somewhat similar to that of the Force in Lego Star Wars. Indy also uses several unique weapons of his own, including swords, guns, his whip, and (of course) shovels. As in Lego Star Wars, different types of characters have different capabilities and can access different areas of the levels. Another new element is "fears," meaning that some characters cannot go near certain types of enemies without freezing up; for example, Indy cannot approach snakes, while Willie is afraid of most insects.
This type of gameplay is truly addictive. Thanks to the characters' different abilities, you will probably encounter new aspects of each level, even when you are playing it for the fourth or fifth time. As your skill improves, you'll progress from barely surviving a level to understanding every inch of it completely as you unravel every detail in order to find all of the hidden items. The game also provides rewards for your efforts that you'll actually want, such as Extras that increase your power or make it easier to find artifacts. In fact, by collecting certain special items, it is even possible to unlock Han Solo as a playable character (in spite of the fact that this would presumably require Harrison Ford to be in two places at once).
Lego Indy’s graphics are similar to those of Lego Star Wars II – in a good way. The characters and landscapes are both bright, colorful, and highly detailed, although the environments are perhaps a bit less diverse than the wide variety of locales found in the Star Wars universe. The characters are also animated well, with each character possessing enough style and unique mannerisms to make plastic toys truly feel like they are coming to life. The game’s three-dimensional environment is convincing overall and feels true to both Indiana Jones movies and actual Lego toys.
Pretty much the only disadvantage graphically is that there is no way to adjust the camera manually, so you are stuck with whichever point of view the game chooses for you. Usually, this setup still manages to work well enough, but from time to time, you’ll find yourself unable to see a critical object or area because of your viewing angle, and in some cases, there is really nothing you can do about it.
Lego Indiana Jones’ soundtrack has a bit of an ace up its sleeve for audio: A soundtrack by John Williams is virtually unbeatable. Many of Williams’ classic tracks from the Indiana Jones movies are so popular and legendary that you probably already know them. Several of these tracks have been reproduced faithfully for your PSP. Lego Indy’s musical accompaniment is not a “re-bleeping” of the music either, but rather it sounds almost CD quality, and in fact, some sections of the game would probably still be thrilling even if everything but the music were removed.
The sound effects are not quite as strong as the music – but then, how could they be? Standard sound effects like clicks, impacts, and chimes accompany the action, but once again, the only “dialog” consists of nonsensical “chatter” effects while the characters perform exaggerated pantomimes to try to get their messages across. While this does work well for the series’ trademark of retelling the plot in a humorous and silly fashion, it doesn’t do a lot to boost the game’s audio quality.
The Crashed Crusade
If you played Lego Star Wars II for PSP (or read my review), you're probably aware that it was very buggy and had more problems with crashing than an average pod racer. Naturally, one of my biggest concerns for Lego Indiana Jones would be that it would also be unstable to the point of dragging down on the fun factor. While some reports indicate that the PC version of the game may indeed have significant problems, I'm happy to report that the PSP version is almost as solid as a giant tumbling rock. I did experience a small number of crashes during testing, but this is - like it or not – above average by PSP standards. The music doesn't drop out and the puzzles don't get "stuck" – the game just works.
Still, Lego Indiana Jones does have one modest technical issue: some of the loading delays feel almost unbearable. Loading a level can take about a full minute, and the map screen (Barnett College) has a loading delay of its own, so you may end up facing two of these delays just to move from one level to another. However, the game is at least speedy and responsive within each level, and the load times aren't really much worse than those of Lego Star Wars II. Relative to the massive stability issues that Traveller's Tales has thankfully avoided this time, the loading delays are really a pretty minor inconvenience.
Use The Horse!
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures for PSP is an outstanding game. Demonstrating the same imaginative design and creativity as Lego Star Wars, it fulfills some of the potential that Lego Star Wars II didn’t quite reach (thanks mainly to its bugginess). Although the game is especially a treat for fans of the Indiana Jones films, anyone who likes action/adventure games at all is bound to get hooked on it. Indiana Jones didn’t only make the transition from movie hero to Lego character – he has also transitioned from there to becoming an all-time PSP classic.
Tips & Hints
-The spike traps in the game are quite deadly – but many of the spikes can be destroyed simply by punching them or using any weapon on them.
-In Well of Souls, the black objects at the left and right sides of the large door can be (and must be) pushed forward.
-In Pursuing The Ark, you’ll find yourself battling a boxer with tremendous strength. You can try to attack him until you’re blue in the face, but it won’t do any good; instead, you’ll need to assemble an anvil, pick it up, and then approach the boxer so that he punches the anvil and hurts his fist. Then when a truck arrives, hop into the stationary airplane and use its guns to blast open the truck and find parts for another anvil.
-In the Temple of Kali, the machinery at the bottom left and bottom right corners of the stage can be repaired with the wrench, even though they don’t emit the sparks that usually indicate broken items.
-Some weapons, such as a sword or bazooka, will cause targeting indicators to appear on objects that can be attacked or destroyed. These indicators can make it easier to spot something you may have missed, so if you’re stuck, try playing as a character who carries a weapon of this type to see what you can target.
-Many of the essential objects you encounter throughout the game need to be moved from one location to another. However, the objects are often quite heavy, and if you drop to a lower platform than you intended while carrying an object, you’ll soon find that you are not strong enough to move the object back up, and you may think you are stuck. Believe it or not, the best thing to do is to find some nearby water, lava, or a bottomless pit, and hurl the critical object over the edge. It will respawn at a more convenient location.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
he game is highly detailed and looks good, except for some occasional camera frustrations
A musical soundtrack by John Williams is pretty much the best you could possibly hope for; the game’s other sound effects are good but not especially original.
Traveller’s Tales does a fantastic job of creating multi-layered levels that are exciting to unravel and require creative thinking without being ridiculously difficult.
I was so hooked on this game that I sometimes ran out of battery charge before I ran out of desire to keep playing – which is not something I experience often.