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Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 01:13pm 13/05/08 | Comments

A little while ago Activision invited AusGamers out to have a look at a very early preview build of Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures. In that write-up I was able to talk about my time with the game’s first level; a typical Traveller’s Tales Lego spoof of the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Unfortunately my time with the game was short due to the preview build being so early. However, my thoughts on the title - even at that early stage - were full of high praise (you can view that preview here). Since then we’ve been sent a near-complete version of the game which is due to release not long after the new movie hits cinemas this May 22nd, and can tell you this is shaping up to be the absolute best in the Lego series of games.

As you would expect from a Lego title Lego Indy has retained many facets of all the other Lego titles. You collect studs, build Lego, solve puzzles, fight baddies and explore levels for hidden treasures. That isn’t to say it’s overtly “business as usual…”, however, as Traveller’s Tales have really opened up gameplay to more specifically reflect the world of Dr Jones and co. Puzzles will need to be solved by often thinking outside the square and remembering similar situations from the original movies (which sucks because Temple of Doom is dead to me), moreover, there are far more coop-style puzzles and battle sequences to engage in offering even more incentive to get a friend to pick up the controller next to you.

In my previous write-up I mentioned how nice the game was looking. At that time there were still a lot of broken areas in the game-world (particularly in Bartlett College, the game’s hub), but despite this, the potential for polish was already shining through. Here though, Traveller’s Tales have exceeded my expectations ten-fold. Playing a 360 build, my jaw dropped; characters are stunningly crafted (even they are *just* Lego) and the environments they inhabit are beautiful. From the polished floors of Bartlett College reflecting every character and piece of the environment (based on camera movement and angle), to the luscious depth-of-field blurring used during in-game cut-scenes, Lego Indy is the visual cake in the genre. Much of the game’s inner working might be the same as previous Lego titles, but this one is far and away the new visual benchmark.

Beyond the visual leap, there are few new gameplay features added to the Lego gaming fray. Some characters will suffer from phobias (Indy and snakes, his dad and rats, etc) and as a result, you’ll need to help them overcome their fear impediment through utilising partner characters. It’s an element that ensures you won’t always be playing as Indy; breaking up gameplay and offering a reason for some coop playtime. You'll also be able to translate hyroglyphs with books that unlock hiden treasures of paths. Equally, there are far more vehicle moments throughout Lego Indy, and if you’re a fan of the films, you’ll likely know what to expect (there’s a whole level fighting bad-guys on the roofs of moving trucks, for example).

Speaking of bad-guys, I was always wondering how they’d get away with representing Nazis when this game was announced. As part of the subtle comedy TT inject into their Lego outings, don’t expect to see any swastikas or “Hail Hitler” salutes anytime soon, but the enemy Lego characters do have some pretty blue eyes and blonde hair. Awesome.

You can now also use parts of the environment as weapons including chairs, spikes (from typical Indiana Jones triggered traps), bottles and more. You’ll need to pick up shovels to dig (or row) and spanners to fix machinery (both of which can also be used as weapons), while enemies will drop even more useful items such as pistols, machine guns and even shotguns (yep, Lego shotguns). In the fisticuffs department, Indy has some pretty cool moves like hurling baddies over his shoulders, drop-kicking them or catching them in his whip (only to spin them around dizzily leaving them vulnerable to a good hit and subsequent falling apart). He can even take on a few at a time with some well strung together moves (not necessarily made by you, but cool nonetheless) that make him look like the adventurer he is.

It’s the attention to Indiana Jones detail that shines here most, and its noticeable right down the finest of details. Indy is always unshaven or carrying his trusty knapsack whether he’s wearing his brown leather jacket or just his dusty white shirt. Salah continually removes his head-ware, while other background characters such as Marion, Shortround or Marcus Brody, all sport character traits from their silver screen counterparts for added immersion.

The game’s main hub, Bartlett College, equally packs some immersive elements. Whether it’s through the Library (where you purchase new characters with accrued studs), the Artroom (where you can change the appearance of characters through mixing and matching Lego parts and features), the Courtyard (where not much happens at all) or the Treasure Room (where you can look at treasures you’ve collected throughout the game and even find hidden new ones), it all looks legit. The visual details and art-direction (while planted in Lego) is amazingly crafted to reflect the original source material, but by far the most impressive of all is the way in which you access any and all of the main game’s levels.

60 Unlockable Characters?

We're told there are 60 Indiana Jones characters to unlock which, for me, sounds like fleshing that number out would include every middle-eastern digger and Nazi in the game. However, the 60 also embodies different versions of the same character. So there are not only three seperate movie versions of Indy, there are variations within each movie version that include Indy in disguise, without his jacket or dressed for school (among others).
In the main hall (have I mentioned how stunning it looks?) you have three mounted maps you can stand in front of. Each map represents one of original adventures (Raiders, Temple, Crusade) and based on how much you’ve completed of each, you’ll be able access unlocked levels. Revisiting levels is highly recommended as there are many hidden paths and treasures only certain characters can find or unlock (ie Shortround is the only character who can access the tiny openings R2D2 accessed in Lego Star Wars, which have returned here), and given much of this series is based on item, treasure and character collection, horde junkies will want to be exploring every nook and cranny they can with newer characters. The maps all look like archaeological items with notes, drawings and the like all strewn about, while actually accessing levels is achieved through sliding around a magnifying glass. And to top it all off (the authenticity, that is), even load times between levels has been cleverly handled through utilising the animated travel lines between destinations (across maps) from the original movies.

With all that said, there’s still heaps more to reveal about the game, but I’m going to need to leave something for our review. Rest assured though, if you’re a fan of either the films or the Lego games in general, this is a match made in heaven. It’s absolutely beautiful to look at, plays better than its Star Wars predecessors and has Indiana Jones in it. It couldn’t possibly go wrong from this point (at least as far as Lego titles are concerned, anyway).

Stay tuned to AusGamers for our full review of this shortly, and feel free to download the PC demo from us by clicking here.