Lego Jurassic World Review
I presided over horrific Lego experiments when I was young. My minifigs became organic engines powering vehicles, got combined with monsters, and had their heads replaced by every possible brick. Tampering with the natural order of things is easy with Lego, so the genetic manipulation in Lego Jurassic World should be a natural fit. However, when it comes to experimentation, this title marks a first for the whole Jurassic Park franchise: It doesn’t go far enough. The action rarely deviates from previous Lego titles, but when it does, it goes in the wrong direction.
Players run, jump, and build their way through 20 levels – five for each of the four movies. As with previous Lego titles, dozens of characters ranging from cool (Mr. DNA) to bizarre (Steven Spielberg) are waiting to be unlocked. Even with all of the collectibles, the adventure isn’t as enticing this time around. If you’re only interested in low-impact platforming and charming Lego interpretations of key moments from the films, Lego Jurassic World delivers. Unfortunately, it needed more time in the incubator to mature into a good game.
The biggest new feature – playing as dinosaurs – takes too long to gain any steam. Apart from a handful of minigames and barrier-smashing sequences, you have to wait until the Jurassic World levels to do anything interesting with these prehistoric beasts. Even then, they only realize their full potential in free-play mode, where you can summon a wide variety of dinosaurs – and even customize your own. The idea is neat, but it’s so back-loaded that I was practically done with the game by the time it fully opened up. You shouldn’t have to wait until you’re replaying levels and cleaning up post-game tasks for the content to get interesting.
Another problem rests partly with the source material; in the movies, the heroes are usually running away from dinosaurs rather than fighting them. In the game, that translates to a dearth of fun battles. What little combat you experience is usually against the annoying Compy enemies – tiny dinosaurs that attack in swarms when you’re trying to do something else. They also blend into the background often, making them hard to single out and deal with. You face other enemies, like InGen soldiers and different dinosaurs, but these encounters are boring at best; your fights against raptors amount to the same button-pressing minigame every time.
Minimal combat could be okay if the puzzles were interesting, but if you’ve played recent Lego games (specifically the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit entries), don’t expect any surprises. Your characters wander into dark caves, shoot targets, and dig in the dirt. However, who can perform which tasks is fuzzier than ever. Your customizable characters (usable in free play) have specific classes, but the story characters rarely conform to these archetypes. This results in too much trial-and-error as you keep track of who among your rotating cast of characters possesses a particular item or skill. It isn’t difficult, but it adds unnecessary steps to puzzles with already-obvious solutions.
Design problems aren’t all you need to worry about. I ran into more technical bugs here than other entries. I fell through the world, got trapped behind obstacles, and was locked out of switching characters. These were all fixed with a restart, but I lost progress in the process. Also, though it isn’t a bug, the limited audio ripped from the early movies sounds conspicuously bad. Many of the cinematics feel like mad-libbed scenes assembled from a small bank of usable sound bites, producing intentional and unintentional humor in equal measure.
Lego Jurassic World is a dull, occasionally frustrating experience with a lot of cute nods to the series for hardcore fans. That’s as good as it gets. From the puzzles to the combat to the exploration, everything feels less ambitious and entertaining than other recent Lego titles. The basic mechanics still work, but the gameplay feels like a leap back in time.