|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Traveller's Tales||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: LucasArts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 17, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Leon Hendrix III
October 8, 2009 - There may be no more prolific partnership in video games today than LucasArts and Traveller's Tales. Since the popular blocks made their first steps into the gaming world with LEGO Star Wars, there's been a consistent flow of cutesy adaptations of popular franchises. With the first trio of games, Traveller's Tales created a formula that would become the trademark of the family-oriented ports.
LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Star Wars: The Original Trilogy, and LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga blended light-hearted action gameplay, thin puzzle elements, and a lot of humor wrapped in the popular Lucas license, creating an enjoyable game that appealed to Star Wars fans young and old. The series was lauded for its replay value which, through tons of extras (hidden characters, costumes, etc.) and its faithful treatment of the epic saga of the Skywalker clan, won its steady following.
A few holiday buying seasons later we got LEGO Batman, a bit of a generic tale that brought the same sense of humor, action and puzzle-platforming to the next-gen, and soon after, the first LEGO "Indy" adventure. By then, critics of the LEGO series began finding the cracks in their plastic-fantastic annual entries: gameplay was stagnated, almost non-extant sound or graphical updates, puzzles that proved frustrating without clues, and no online play option; their second, fully next-gen efforts started showing the franchise's age. When Indiana Jones got the LEGO treatment, it seemed like the series might go years without any recognizable change.
Lucky for LEGO fans everywhere (which I guess would be mostly the Juicy-Juice box, Skippy Peanut Butter, mid-day nap crowd), if there's anything LucasArts is good at, its mining old franchises for new material (LucasArts has 'promised' 100% new content on this one). Putting their talents to good use, Traveller's Tales and the Skywalker shingle seem to have another trick up their sleeve and could deliver one of the most unique entries in the aging LEGO line.
Though both companies have deftly managed to neither confirm nor deny online play, there still may be plenty of reasons for Indy fans to check out this new adventure. For starters, everyone's favorite archeologist (though I'm a Croft man) will go on a new quest that spans the globe and all four of his silver screen stories. From Raiders of the Lost Ark to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indy 2 will reintroduce characters from Short Round to Irina Spalko, as well as environments inspired by and stripped from each film, and presumably a story that sensibly intertwines the quad of quests.
Like the fourth adventure, the game begins as Mutt shows up with a bunch of incoherent scribbles that Indy intuits will lead to his next round-o-chases, treasures, and escapes. This opening cinematic leads to the LEGO-ized version of the bar fight from 'Kingdom'. Unlike the earlier games, Traveller's Tales has taken time to add some additional interactivity to their hub worlds (six in all, each leading to five individual stages). Although there's no word on how or if this will impact gameplay, it at least sounds good to be able to fly a plane or swim to an island before tackling the next mission. The structure of these missions will be second nature to anyone who's played the first five LEGO games. You'll punch your geometric foes to blocky bits, swing over chasms via whip, step on switches, find treasures, and build things with LEGOs. Ultimately, the game depends a lot on its humor, exploration, and license to attract its fans, and though there are a few new wrinkles (Indy's whip can now tie up foes that he can carry around), the real draw is the additional content.
Traveller's has packed its new title to the brim of its dashing Fedora; every level, once passed, can be replayed with new objectives, there's plenty of treasures to find, and, potentially the most addictive new additions, the Build Your Own Adventure mode and stage editor. Combining the two with the character creator, 'Indy 2' gives gamers carte blanche to create their own stories, albeit stories set in the adorable jungles of South America.
Going from tabula rasa to anything you can imagine (or you and a partner since there is also co-op level designer functionality), the clever interface lets players choose a character from the game that they then walk through their would-be level to tweak a specific element. Indy, for instance, is used to add mechanical items like switches, while an alien from 'Kingdom' uses his saucer to raise and lower terrain. Anything from enemies to props and environmental factors like water and archways can be added. Within the stage editor there seems to be an impressive level of depth; clips of the editor in action even show the player moving the wall away from the screen.
When you've finished your masterpiece, the game allows you to take part in your own Spielberg-ian jaunts by way of the Build Your Own Adventure mode; you set the objectives, you set the stakes, then you play through it.
As always, the LEGO, Traveller's, Lucas triad seems poised to deliver a lot of spirited laughs and a fun, albeit familiar, adventure. Gamers will have to wait and see if their latest offering is pure enough to keep from getting gutted by holy sky-fire (Don't you love Raiders of the Lost Ark references?).
Leon Hendrix III
CCC Freelance Writer