Dane's Game Reviews: LEGO Indiana Jones

I was a huge fan of the LEGO Star Wars game; I recommend it to most of my friends when they're looking for something casual and fun, so it was a no-brainer for me to pick up LEGO Indy when I got the chance.

The LEGO games are meant to be able to be picked up by just about anybody. The controls are fairly simple, and once you get down the four-button arrangement, you can make your way through the game with little problem. Dying in the game is inevitable, but there is very little penalty. You lose a few "studs" but respawn exactly where you died (or a nearby ledge). Each character has a special ability. These are fairly obvious, and are often prompted on-screen with little messages or highlighted objects.

All of the characters are LEGO mini-figures, animated to be more flexible, but retaining their signature shape and facial expressions. As mentioned, each has a special ability. Indy has his whip, female figures can jump higher than male, and some are educated and can decode hieroglyphics on the wall to open doors. These kind of things were also in Star Wars, but Indy takes it a step further. In Star Wars, you needed one of each character needed to solve the puzzle with you. In Indy, there are objects around the level you can pick up in order to let any character solve that puzzle. If there is a buried object and you don't have a digger, there will be a shovel nearby so that Indy (or another character) can pick it up and dig out the object. This is also the case for hieroglyphic books, wrenches, and enemy hats. With this, the game becomes slightly more complex than Star Wars was, but not to the point of raising the age level by a staggering amount.

The level design is a mix of stylized backgrounds meant to look like the various locations of the movies mixed with LEGO objects. Any vehicles and people are made of LEGO, as are many foreground objects. Most of the things made of LEGOs are breakable, which is encouraged due to the release of coins (called studs) and sometimes parts used to build new objects needed to complete the levels. The bright colors make the game inviting, flashy and fun, as well as make navigation easy due to the high visibility of pathways.

One of the big draws of the game is the puzzle aspect. The player must go around the level and break objects to find pieces or switches to trigger to open the path to the next area. These can be great fun, but occasionally frustrating (especially during boss battles). Most rooms you have the time and ability to move around and find whatever piece of the puzzle you're missing to move on. As long as you are willing to search, the answer will come. The boss battles are a slightly different matter. For some of them, there is a certain series of actions you must do to defeat the character, but the next step is rarely obvious. You may have to pick up a certain object, or hit a certain switch, but they may not highlight unless you've done something else, or in some cases not at all. But that is what the Internet is for. Then the problem becomes executing the maneuvers while being pelted by endless streams of enemies.

This brings me to my second complaint of the game. There are the occasional areas where there are endless streams of enemies. A couple of the boss battles have this, and some are merely scattered around the levels. You walk into the area, clear the enemies, and start searching for objects or just destroying everything in sight for the studs, but while you're destroying your second object, another swarm of enemies comes in. You clear them, only to have another group five seconds after the last one is dead. This gets worse if they are rocket troopers. Star Wars may have had the respawning swarms, but something that occurred to me was that using Jedi, you could deflect the blaster bolts, and some blaster characters could dodge. I don't think I've seen anyone in Indy dodging any enemy fire. Instead, they stand there and just take the hit, eventually dying. I feel that occasionally it would be nice to have some time to just explore instead of having to worry about dying every ten seconds.

LEGO Indiana Jones is a great game, not just for casual players, but for families, and hardcore players as well. It has multiplayer capability, making it great for parents and kids to play together. It's light humor makes even the darkest parts of the PG-13 movies suitable for all ages. And for the hardcore, there is a completion percentage counter and plenty of little secret areas to unlock and explore. This is yet another game for me to put on the highly recommended list.

Verdict: Highly Recommended