Lego Jurassic World
The announcement of Lego Jurassic World was good news for families, mine included. Traveller's Tales' Lego games have been a co-op fixture at my house since my kids were old (and interested) enough to pick up controllers. Like most kids, my children happen to be obsessed with dinosaurs, too. We've watched a lot of dinocentric movies and TV shows over the years, and they've ranged from being pretty OK to unbelievably terrible. Jurassic Park is one of the best dinosaur movies around, but my sons are way too young to watch it. Lego Jurassic World will let us experience the stories of those movies, but without quite as many scares. I played it recently, and I've got five things that Lego fans should know about the game.
One quick note: Despite the game’s title, Lego Jurassic World doesn’t just feature the events from the upcoming film. That’s included, as well as the previous three movies. There are five levels for each of the four movies, as well as a pair of hub worlds.
The Tone Has Been Tweaked, In A Good Way
Jurassic Park is great, but despite what the park's creator John Hammond might think, it's not exactly a place for young kids. Its balance of action and suspense remains just as effective since its release. Showing it to the little ones is a great way to ensure that they'll ask to sleep in your bed. TT Games has shown that it can work with licenses that skew older, such as the Lord of the Rings films and some of the later Harry Potters. Lego Jurassic World takes a similar approach, softening the edges off the scarier and more violent moments with slapstick and the silliness that comes with the Lego brand. The best example I saw was with the T-rex. Mike Taylor, head of design at TT Fusion, says the team approached the hungry beast as though it were an oversized puppy. Sure, it's a puppy that's taller than a stack of mastiffs and it has a mouth filled with spiky teeth, but it's still kind of goofy.
One of the sections I played took place after the creature grabbed one of the Jeep Wranglers and flipped it upside-down – with Timmy and Lex Murphy trapped inside. Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm have to find a way to distract the T-rex and rescue the kids. After solving a few puzzles, Grant builds a contraption to do just that: a large jack-in-the-box. He cranks the handle, and it plays a music-box version of John Williams' Jurassic Park theme. The dino isn't interested, so Grant kicks the box. Out pops an oversized, squeaky chew toy, which immediately catches the T-rex’s attention.
You Can Play As A Dinosaur
The dinosaurs are obviously the main attraction at Jurassic Park. They’re not trained circus animals; part of the appeal is that attendees are able to see them as wild as they can be. It only makes sense that these beasts aren’t exactly ready to wear saddles. Even though they have a tendency to devour people in the movies, players will need help from dinosaurs to break through barriers and get into areas that might otherwise be inaccessible. If you can’t ride them, what do you do? In Lego Jurassic World, you can become the dinosaur. That comes in handy when the characters are trapped behind a fallen log. One solid ram from a rampaging triceratops is enough to transform the obstacle into a pile of splinters. That kind of dino encounter is much less stressful when you’re in charge.
You Can Play With The Dinosaurs
Each of the game’s levels contains a hidden chunk of amber. As expected, they contain prehistoric insect bloodsuckers, which have fragments of dino DNA in their little bellies. Collect enough of one type, and you can reconstruct that dinosaur. You can then populate your island hubs with the critters, and you can mix and match elements from the 20 types to create your own monstrosity. Taylor says there are more than 1,000 combinations, not including color and skin-pattern variations. From what we’ve seen of the film Jurassic World, messing around with various species is a fantastic idea, and nothing bad could possibly arise from that.
The Humans Aren't Half Bad, Either
Lego Jurassic World features a cast of more than 100 playable characters. I only saw a fraction of them, but TT Fusion seems like they’ve captured their essence through their animations and special abilities. Grant is a versatile guy, able to construct helpful objects out of the environment and cut through thick vegetation with his machete. Malcolm can toss flares, but from what I played, his biggest skills are in acting frightened and bouncing around with nervous energy. Paleobotanist Ellie Sattler hops into smelly piles of dinosaur scat, which leave other characters gagging. She can pull out vital clues (lysine!), or the occasional electric guitar. My favorite is Lex. Her screams could be irritating in the movie, but they’re a glass-shattering godsend in Lego Jurassic World.
It Gets Weird
Mr. DNA is a playable character. Let that sink in for a moment.
Lego Jurassic World is coming this June on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, 3DS, and Vita.