Summary: With LEGO Indiana Jones, LucasArts attempts to recreate the success of their Star Wars saga, but did they deliver?
You Throw Me the Red Block, I Throw You the Blue Block!
Basically, Traveller's Tales hasn't touched the LEGO formula at all. LEGO Indy is a trip through the three original Indiana Jones flicks--Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade--with LEGO blocks forming the characters and much of the scenery. Everything plays out as a kid-friendly pantomime of the movies. All dialogue has been removed, leaving characters to communicate in winks, smiles, and frowns. Most of the violence has been softened or made humorous. Enemies explode into LEGO blocks when they "die." Key moments have been twisted to provide some chuckles. The evil trenchcoat Nazi in Raiders, for instance, winds up sitting down on the red-hot Staff of Ra medallion in Marion Ravenwood's burning bar, apparently burning the icon into his ass (we're spared finding out for sure). Belloq's opening of the Ark now leads to a big punch-up, not the famous cinematic meltdown. Mola Ram in Temple of Doom isn't ripping any LEGO hearts out of his sacrifices. And Last Crusade, uh, is just as childish here as it was in movie theaters.
Gameplay sticks to the plan, too. Each level features Indy and a co-star forming a dynamic duo to take on Nazis, rob tombs, solve impenetrable ancient mysteries, that sort of thing. You can flip back and forth between the two protagonists at will, or team up with another player and go through the game co-op on a single system (there is no net support on any platform for multiplayer). Various characters are blessed with special abilities and cursed with phobias, although these characteristics aren't all that pronounced through much of the game. Indy's infamous fear of snakes, for instance, is a nice added touch here, although it comes up so infrequently that it might as well not be present at all. The biggest real difference between characters is how women can jump higher than men, and how little guys like Short Round can slip through tiny doorways that are otherwise off-limits to normal-sized people.
Spiked Pits and Other Design Pitfalls
It's all a bit much at times, though. LEGO Indy likely isn't a game you'll want to take on in marathon play sessions, as the never-ending progression of multi-step puzzles lag a bit after a couple of hours. Combine that with the occasionally cloying kiddie sense of humor and you'll want to digest this game in smallish hour-long chunks. Longer play sessions also emphasize a couple of other frustrations with gameplay. Allied AI can be wonky in spots. Your buddy occasionally needs extra prompting to help out with two-person puzzles like standing on platforms or hanging from chains simultaneously. Too many levels feature respawning enemies that attack incessantly while you're trying to solve a puzzle. Being gooned by a pack of thugs or insects every 20 seconds or so while scratching your head trying to figure out how to extend a bridge is not particularly enjoyable. Combat is so basic, and battles so easily won, that it seems unnecessary to force fights like this. It's not an integral part of gameplay, so I would have been happy with just the occasional big scrap right before a boss battle.
Still, I pushed myself forward. Even though I found that the action grew stale at times, I found it tough to stop playing even after getting bored. There are just so many secrets to discover, so many characters to unlock, so many artifacts to put together for viewing in the college hub (which is so big that it's practically a level to itself), so many cool twists to the original movie stories that I found it hard to tear myself away. I also wanted to stick around because of the appealing and cheerful presentation. All of the bright colors, intricately designed levels loaded with destructible objects, and winning use of the movie soundtracks load the game with a cheerful personality that I found impossible to resist.