With the three best Indiana Jones movies already tapped in the first LEGO Indiana Jones game and rage over the fourth Indy film still not fully dissipated, LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues may be on shaky LEGO bricks.
LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues spends much of its time focused on the brickification of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but it also gives players a taste of Indy's original adventures. Better still, it gives Indiana Jones fans a chance to build their own LEGO levels this time around.
Can a new, coop-friendly split-screen system and the ability to design your own levels make up for the fact that the game reanimates Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Lets see.
Two Players, Two Screens: One of my big qualms with previous LEGO games was that when you started playing coop—and that's always been the best way to play—the screen became a leash. If one player went too far in a direction it started pulling the other player around with them, sometimes to their death. This time around, once you hit the limits of the screen it splits, allowing the two players to go their separate ways. The way the screen splits also shows which direction the other player is in. It's a neat design concept that typically works quite well.
Build Mode: While LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues spends most of its time focused on just about everybody's least favorite Indy film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it also introduces the ability to design and play through your own LEGO levels to the franchise. The system is fairly straight forward: You select and throw down LEGO bricks you've unlocked through gameplay to create sets based on what comes with the game. Not only does that include AI-programmable enemies and creatures, but traps that you can tie to different bricks. It's a robust little system tied to a fun aesthetic. My only disappointment is that you apparently can't share your creations with friends online. A pretty big bummer.
Another Take: While more than a third of the game is devoted to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the game also includes abbreviated takes on the first three movies. Interestingly, instead of just porting over chunks of these LEGO adaptations from The Original Adventures the game seems to completely reinvent them. While Indy purists may lose sleep over these in-a-nutshell adaptations of the first three films, they're clever, punchy and fun in a way that makes playing the story a second time worthwhile.
Wide Open Spaces: Every LEGO game has a sort of jumping off point, a hub from which gamers embark on the multiple stores and adventures of the particular game. In the original LEGO Indy game it was a university, this time it's the storage warehouse from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sort of. The top menu has you select one of the eight containers (some start boxed up and have to be unlocked) to decide where your adventure begins. There are crates for the first three movies and then three crates for Crystal Skull and finally a crate each for the build mode and another for "Super Bonus" levels, which are essentially time trials. But when you jump into a movie, the game drops you into a fairly expansive area that than has to be explored to find the storyline. While you wander around these large set pieces you also discover hidden items, challenges and fun little things to do. It's a neat addition to the LEGO gaming experience.
Vehicles: Always a pleasure in LEGO games, this time around the world gives you access to cars, motorcycles, bikes, tree-cutters, horses, camels, rickshaws and, my favorite, planes. There's nothing like flying over a LEGO land and jumping out to parachute to your favorite play area.
Completest: As with all previous LEGO games, LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues comes with quite a few reasons to play, replay and replay the game again. There are special LEGO pieces to collect, time trials to unlock, Easter eggs to discover. And it's all a lot of fun to do.
Funny Story: Played in tandem with my 8-year-old, the game had Tristan in stitches. And it wasn't just him. Sure, I'd still like to see a LEGO heart ripped from a mini-fig's chest, but the alternative to all of that Indy violence can be quite funny at times.
Not So Invisible Walls: The worlds of LEGO Indiana Jones 2 are much, much bigger, but they're not without their limits and unfortunately those limits aren't disguised very well. Go too far and your mini-fig will just float back to the map.
The Camera Controls... Still: How can Traveller's Tales, who have single-handedly reinvigorated, reinvented the LEGO gaming franchise, still not have the in-game camera worked out? I'm sick of dying simply because the perspective is throwing me off. Fix this already.
What Next: I love the huge explorable, hidden area-filled, worlds of LEGO, but I hate having to wander around in them for half an hour trying to figure out which path, which cave, which ladder will take me to the next step in the story. A map or maybe a better indicator would be much appreciated.
I wasn't really looking forward to LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues. Of all of the LEGO games the first Indiana Jones was my least favorite, though I still quite liked it. And this time around, I wasn't really anticipating playing through my least favorite movie in the series. But the game delivers on so many levels, adding a much needed split screen and a fantastic build mode, that I've been delighted with the experience.
If you didn't pick up the first LEGO Indiana Jones game, I think it might even be worth skipping and instead going straight to this one.
LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues was developed by Traveller's Tales and published by LucasArts for the DS, PC, Playstation 3, Playstation Portable, Wii and Xbox 360 on Nov. 17. Retails for $49.99 USD. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played through all sets and campaigns both alone and with my son on Xbox 360. Built several levels alone and with my son.
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