The lights are on
The subtitle for Lego Indiana Jones 2, “The Adventure Continues,” is a slight misnomer. Perhaps a more appropriate title would have been “Relive the Adventure.” Half of Lego Indy 2’s content is actually taken up by an overhaul of the original trilogy of Lucas/Spielberg flicks, all three of which were already Lego-fied in last year’s Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures.
Nearly everyone loves revisiting classics like Raiders of the Lost Ark, but do we need a second simplification of the same set of films only a little over a year after it last released? LucasArts believes so, and now that we’ve had a chance to get some hands-on time with Lego Indiana Jones 2, we’re a bit less skeptical ourselves.
To get the most important question out of the way immediately: No, Lego Indy 2 is not a complete retread of the first game. The game follows the same stories and includes some of the same scenes, but it does not borrow levels from the Original Adventures. Instead, new levels have been built to take advantage of the new structure in Lego Indy 2.
Gone are the days of multiple collectibles to track in each lengthy level. Likewise, you can say goodbye to the single hub world where you bring those collectibles together and choose which mission to tackle next. In Lego Indiana Jones 2, each movie gets its own hub – save for the previously un-Lego-fied Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which has the largest number of levels and three separate hubs. All of the game’s hubs are much bigger than in previous Lego games with a lot more to explore and unlock. What collectible trinkets are left in the game are now mostly hidden in the hub areas rather than the levels.
These central areas also lead to new levels much more organically. Rather than approaching a map and choosing an area of the world to dart off to, you either enter a new building in the hub or find a vehicle that will take you to your next destination. If Indy needs to go to Mexico, you’ll have to unlock a passage to the train in the hub world. If he needs to fly to Egypt, you’ll have to fix the broken down airplane you keep running past. It’s a minor change, but having a bigger hub that connects to the levels in meaningful ways really does help Indy’s adventures feel more cohesive.
As for the levels themselves, developer Traveller’s Tales seems to have adopted an entirely new design philosophy. Instead of a handful of massive levels full of doo-dads and unlockables, each chapter in Lego Indiana Jones 2 has 10 levels that are much shorter and 5 bonus stages. Levels vary between combat-light puzzle and exploration stages, full-out brawling zones, and the dreaded vehicle levels.
The shorter levels lend the game a much brisker pace this time around; however, if there’s one concern we have about the new setup, it’s those troublesome vehicle segments. Even the biggest Lego game fans have acknowledged that controlling cars, planes and spaceships in the Lego-verse leaves a bit to be desired.