|System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, 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: June 3, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jason Lauritzen
With three Lego-themed Star Wars games under its belt, Traveller's Tales has moved in a slightly different direction. Not veering far from the comfy creative base of George Lucas, this time the world revolves around the first three Indiana Jones movies. This is similar to an approach taken with the 1994 SNES game "Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures" developed by Factor 5. Like that title, players trek through key moments in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade. The key twist is the Lego moniker - players are treated to a unique mix of humor, platforming, and knuckle brawling - all charmingly recreated using Lego play pieces. For the most part, the title succeeds in blending all these elements, but may come off as a little too shallow to the audiences beyond its low ESRB rating.
From a story standpoint, the game has a unique challenge: most players have probably seen all three movies, so there won't be any big surprises in terms of plot development. What makes the presentation unique is the delivery of cutscenes. Aside from being rendered using LEGO pieces, there is an uncommon omission: there's no voice acting (at least in the traditional sense). Now, at first this may seem like a big mistake - shouldn't we hear Indy deliver his one-liners about snakes and inevitable run-ins with Nazis? However, once you move beyond that initial thought, it comes off as a strange critique - hearing Lego characters voice acted by celebrity-sounding counterparts would probably end up being less immersive. The developer's choice of near-silent voice acting is a better alternative - the characters let out grunts and squeaks during story sequences - all this makes for a quirky, good time. Even with their original nature, criticism can be leveled against all the game's cutscenes: why can't you skip the sequences you've already seen or simply aren't interested in? It's a small note to check off, but nonetheless it should be on every developer's checklist nowadays.
The first time through you'll play the game's Story Mode. All these levels have you in control of Indy and a compatriot character. This secondary, playable character is always essential to each level in some way. Whether it's Marion, Short Round, Willie, or Henry Jones Sr., they all pack one special ability to help solve puzzles and traverse tricky environmental obstacles. Sometimes these abilities come off as a clever homage to the movies, while at other times they seem like unnecessary additions. For example, Willie (from the Temple of Doom) can shatter glass (revealing key items and treasures), an obvious reflection of her loud, ditzy, on-screen personality. However, Marion (from Raiders) simply jumps higher than Indy. This leads to you constantly switching between her and Indy just to climb to get on top of a ledge. Why not just allow Indy to jump higher in the first place?
There is always the option to insert another controller and let your friend play as the other character, but if you're playing solo, then it's up to the A.I. to control them. The intelligence quotient of your computer-controlled friend comes off as uneven; it seems to run at two extremes - when it's smart, it shows, but it can be extremely stupid as well. As an example of the former, your computer-controlled friend can traverse pits and kill snakes to help you stand on a switch - a respectable, heroic moment. However, on numerous occasions you'll find your A.I. buddy not helping you in a fight or repeatedly jumping into a pit, dying over and over again.