Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures
20th Mar 2008 | 10:47
Has it really been over 25 years since Indiana Jones swung himself (and his fedora hat) across his first snake filled pit? It seems like only yesterday we were watching The Last Crusade in the cinema too. Hang on - what were our parents doing letting us watch a film with melting Nazis in it when we were only 3? (Okay, so in 1989 we were actually 12...)
Anyway this year, possibly as excitingly for gamers as the new Indiana Jones film - especially those who have played Lego Star Wars (and is there anyone who hasn't?) - is Lego Indiana Jones the game. We've seen what developer Traveller's Tales can do with some animated Lego bricks, a classic trilogy and a generous dosage of fun-poking humour already in Lego Star Wars. And the prospect of now playing through our favourite action hero trilogy as re-imagined by the Lego masters is frankly as appealing as shoving a sock in heroine Willie's gob when she's doing all that screaming in the dinghy in Temple of Doom.
Just writing that sentence too has given us yet another famous Indiana Jones scene that we can't wait to see re-done in Lego. And - trust us - we've thought of quite a few since getting to play the game's Raiders of the Lost Ark levels and seeing just how brilliant they are.
We sort of knew what to expect when we started playing Lego Indiana Jones - which is the same as anyone who's watched the films and played the previous Lego games will be expecting too. The formula of simple platform action, block collecting and constructing and comical Lego cut-scenes remains very much intact, which should surely dampen our enthusiasm at least a little. Perhaps because of the strength of the film franchise though, or just because of the encompassing attention to minute detail, the game still manages to make a jaw-dropping impression.
That's partly because it looks so good on Xbox 360. The opening Raiders of the Lost Ark forest level in particular looks stunning - almost like the little plastic Indy and Satipo characters have borrowed the trees from Crysis and are taking a stroll amidst them. Almost.
It's mostly those details that make the game so outstanding though. As you jump about as Indy, he action rolls at every opportunity and his trusty whip is always on hand to drag objects or swing him across holes in the ground. His sidekick Satipo - who wields a spade for digging up hidden switches and Lego bricks - looks as comically terrified of every springing out spike as a Lego faced character possibly could too.
This level has a bit of everything. Rope bridges to build then throw across chasms, poison darts to roll past and even a bit of raft rowing through crocodile infested waters. It all comes to a climax in Indy's most famous scene - the giant boulder rolling one - with you legging it towards the camera, leaping over gaps in the floor to escape. Only to have your priceless idol nabbed by rival archaeologist Rene Belloq. The cut-scene here pretty much sums up what to expect from the rest of the game. As Indy accidentally produces the gold head of Star Wars droid C-3PO instead of the idol he's been asked to hand over, Belloq starts doing his best robot impression and all the Hovito tribes people start wetting themselves laughing.
After making an escape in his seaplane, Indy's "there's a big snake in the plane, Jock" line is replaced by Indy leaping into Jock's lap instead. Some games might struggle at humour, but Traveller's Tales clearly have no such problem. Of course, it helps that cut-scenes feature cutesy-fied plastic Lego versions of devil worshippers, and Nazis who can't speak so are reduced to comic over-acting. Still, you can't help but love how it's all done.
However - we're not going to buy it for the cut-scenes (well, actually, maybe...). The game too though, even at this stage, is a joy to play. Lego Indy features the usual jump-in-and-out co-op play that made the Star Wars games such a laugh for two players. Without the second player, Indy's sidekick is controlled by AI, but can be swapped to using Y whenever they're needed for certain puzzles.
Even in the opening levels we encountered a few head scratchers. Like working out feisty tavern-owner Marion can jump higher than Indy so is needed to retrieve a key for a puzzle. And that you need to lob chairs and bottles at a gun-wielding Toht who's taking cover behind a bar in order to defeat him. Like all the Lego games, it's a very simple game to play and enjoy but it's not all mindless leaping and fighting.
Later scenes will include the Temple of Doom's mines - expect some mine cart riding and devil worshipper slaying (although possibly not a big horned man holding aloft another man's still-beating heart - that's not so family-friendly). While we didn't get to see those, from what we have played there's little danger they'll be another other than a romp-a-thon of genius set-pieces.
Not since the big pirate Lego ship our parents' eventually bought us after we spent the best part of a year whining, have we been so looking forward to something branded up with the Lego logo. There's not too long to wait either. Lego Indiana Jones is due for release on June 6th. Mark the date.