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Reviews

Lego Indiana Jones

The biggest name in adventure gets a building brick makeover...

By now, you've probably seen Indy's latest cinema adventure, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. If that's the case, you've probably also had a few arguments with everybody else who's seen it. If the OXM office is anything to go by, you'll either love it or hate it, and will fight anybody who thinks differently.

So it's a relief, if not much of a surprise, to discover that Indy's latest game outing is one that fans of all ages should be able to agree on. With LEGO Indiana Jones, Traveller's Tales cements its reputation as a developer that has completely nailed the art of movie adaptation.

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And contrary to conventional wisdom, it's achieved this success by taking incredible liberties with the Indiana Jones trilogy, much in the same way they previously did with the Star Wars saga.

The act of converting the main characters to LEGO figures gives it free reign to bolt in extra gags at every turn, and the game is packed with tongue-in-cheek humour.

Admittedly some of the darker moments of the trilogy, particularly the Temple of Doom, sit a little uneasily within the LEGO format. In the scene where Mola Ram and the Thugees make their human sacrifice to Kali, the cutesy humour (much like their victim) seems a little overcooked.

Another problem that must have faced the developer is that the Indy films don't have as many stand-out memorable moments as Star Wars. This makes the art of parody that little bit more challenging.

Puzzle quest
Where LEGO Indy succeeds most is in its capturing of the films' spirit of action and adventure. The gameplay is for the most part identical to that in the well-liked LEGO Star Wars games: straightforward platform-jumping mixed up with puzzle-solving challenges.

In most cases these puzzles require you to find LEGO pieces and use them to construct quest items such as car engines, elevator platforms and bridges. It's fairly simple stuff, but the beauty of LEGO is that you never know what you're going to build next. This provides a constant source of jokes and it also helps to keep the problems varied and engaging.

Those puzzles that aren't to do with building things, usually require the co-operation of a second player (or the AI-controlled partner characters.) While Indy can use his whip to swing across ledges, he can't jump as high as the female characters Marion, Willie and Elsa. Likewise, only Short Round is able to squeeze into narrow passages, and the Thugee characters are required to access certain secret rooms.

Playing with a friend is more entertaining, although the AI does a perfectly good job of activating the right levers and standing in the correct places.

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View to a kill
There is some frustration when the camera obscures your character from view. The hybrid 2D/3D perspective sometimes makes it difficult to see where ropes and vines are in relation to the platforms, making them overly difficult to cling onto.

Overall, the level design is a master class in being fun for kids, yet still reasonably challenging for more experienced gamers. The most taxing challenges are reserved for finding all the super-secret areas, while those who just want to progress through the game won't find themselves getting stuck.

Of course, it also helps if you've seen the movies because it'll actually help you work out what to do next, albeit in quite an abstract way.

I couldn't figure out how to beat the boxer on the Nazi airfield until I remembered that in Raiders, Marion takes 'control' of the flying wing and uses the machine guns to dispatch the German attackers. Likewise, in the Well of Souls it helps to remember that Indy cleared a path through the pit of poisonous snakes using a flaming lantern.

Bricking it!
One of the most notable new features added over LEGO Star Wars is that some characters have 'phobias', making them vulnerable against certain enemies.

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