The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Whether exploring levels with my young nephews or furiously harvesting new characters on my own, I’ve developed a great fondness for the LEGO adventure games. But I can’t endorse the dramatic and unfortunate new direction in Indy 2. While I appreciate the desire to try something new with the game structure after so many titles, the resulting mishmash of ideas is frustrating, repetitive, and unfriendly to both kids and adults.
Collecting studs and bashing enemies over the head until they break apart both remain central to the moment-to-moment gameplay – only the wider context of levels and progression have changed. For the sequel, Traveller’s Tales returns to the earlier movies. But in a weird twist, every movie has brand new levels in place of those from the first game; in most cases, these shorter levels are built around a single small area and bound within a large hub designated for each film. The new movie, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, is allotted the other half of the new levels.
Beyond the obvious strangeness of playing through new encounters in scenes we’ve already acted out in an earlier game, several other unusual design decisions left me shaking my head. The arena-like environments lose any sense of adventure and exploration, and instead introduce tedium with strings of identical enemies to fight and oddly confusing boss battles. Occasionally you gain control of an unwieldy vehicle and go spinning about the world bumping into things – rarely the things you hoped to bump into, mind you. Once you emerge from one of these small levels, you’re faced with a large, lifeless hub world and given little direction about what happens next in the story or where to find that next plot piece. Were it not for a nice selection of hidden items in these central stages, I’d call the sections a complete waste of time.
Some bright spots shine through, including improved visuals. This is the best looking LEGO game yet. There are lots of items, vehicles, and weapons to uncover, many of which have unique and humorous animations connected to them. Gathering new characters is also important, since each one usually has a default item that comes in handy in certain situations. I also love the inclusion of a level creator – a huge bonus for folks who may have been wondering why it took this long for one of these games to include such a feature.
The versatile level creator opens many possibilities for fun, but the simplified approach to laying one item after another means that creating any meaningful, playable stages takes a long time. Unlocking parts to use in the creator also gives something extra to spend your studs on, but would-be levelmakers may be frustrated that they don’t have a more robust set of items from the start. I also thought the adventure creation tool was pretty neat – a few simple choices help you craft your own story level, albeit one mostly based on stages you’ve visited in the main game.
If you’ve been waiting to explore these creative features, LEGO Indiana Jones 2 delivers in a big way. For other LEGO enthusiasts, keep collecting those studs in LEGO Star Wars or find that last unlockable LEGO Batman character. Indy’s newest adventure wasn’t built to last.
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