Is it possible to make a bad LEGO game?
After playing LEGO Indiana Jones 2, the answer is unfortunately “yes.”
Much like ice cream, snickerdoodles & any reality series with a Kardashian sister, LEGO games were long believed to be a guaranteed hit.
Starting with the early LEGO Star Wars games, it seemed LucasArts had stumbled onto a simple idea everyone loved: Playing a video game where you build stuff in a given fantasy world. Practically anybody under 40 grew up with LEGOs and has fond memories of playing with them. Those same happy feelings resonate when fans of the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman or Harry Potter movies start to think about the first time they were swept up into that science fiction fantasy world in the movie theater. Give the game developers credit for not overthinking this: People like the LEGO universe and they like the Star Wars universe, so it’s only natural to combine them!
Game makers then applied this same strategy to the other movie franchises, all the while making the games with cute characters, animals and environments, with lots of tongue-in-cheek humor to boot. These LEGO puzzle games were legitimately fun for all ages, & this mass appeal made them a retail success.
Then, the developers started thinking too much:
How can we make the worlds bigger?
What can we do to make them more segmented and unique?
How can we make the strategy more challenging for older audiences?
How can we integrate more boating and flying challenges?
How can we put more side missions into the game?
The correct answer is a simplistic map selection screen and arrows guiding the user where to go next, as seen in the brilliant new LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean game, which will be reviewed in the future.
That correct answer apparently didn’t arrive until 2011, which is a problem when we’re reviewing a game released in 2009.
LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues is a maddening dumpster fire that makes you ask “why?” Why does the adventure continue, & why would anyone want to be a part of it?
The game is about twice as big as some prior LEGO games such as the prequel and original trilogy LEGO Star Wars games, and its repetitive nature makes it extremely boring after about 40% completion. Worse, once you’ve completed about 4 of the 6 worlds (called “hubs”), the game takes on a “just make it stop” sort of feel. At that point you’ve invested so much time in finishing the game that you just want to see it through!
The game makers at Traveller’s Tales and LucasArts departed from the simple map concept of past LEGO games (such as the 1st LEGO Indiana Jones release) and went to a horrendous “hub” system where your player must explore a three-dimensional RPG-esque map for each movie. Worse, to accommodate the disastrous 4th installment, “Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” that film gets 3 hubs while the original 3 films get 1 hub each. Yikes.
Yes, that’s right. 6 hubs. Lots of replay value, whether you want it or not. The 6 different hubs would be fine if they had a ton of creativity, but it’s the same mundane tasks over & over: Pulling down a lever, moving a shield to reflect a laser beam, punching 10-20+ enemies after completing a level just so you can buy the last 1 & add him as a character.
I happened to have the official game guide, & boy did I need it! With no arrows or hint feature, half the time I was wondering what the game wanted me to do to unlock a race or finish a level & had to resort to using the guide, which thankfully had an abundance of screenshots. This lack of direction is especially ridiculous considering that the LEGO Star Wars games had a “Mini-Kit” perk feature that pointed arrows at all the places you were supposed to look for hidden objects, where to travel, etc. This arrow concept came out years ago & should never have been done away with!
Each hub is filled with driving, flying & boating races too, which make sense if you actually raced against another vehicle. Instead, it’s a race against the clock, with the timekeeper being about the only thing you can see clearly on the screen. Due to horrendous camera angles you can hardly manipulate, you’re often left to wonder what direction you’re supposed to go. This is especially problematic on flying or boating missions, where many vehicles turn like an old, malfunctioning tank. The course will zigzag in the air, and your dirigible won’t exactly turn on a dime (yes, you must literally fly a blimp as nimble as Delta Burke). By the time the camera lets you see the next checkpoint, there’s no time to turn in case you aren’t lined up just right to pass through it, how frustrating!
Executing jumps in the game is maddening too – can your player make the jump? Is he supposed to? Will the quality of the play control allow you to balance him on a beam or avoid getting bumped off a tall crate by your CPU-controlled teammate? These questions will drive you crazy throughout the game.
Also, the game has no online functionality whatsoever, which is absurd given that it has a level creator mode. Sure, the creation mode is a poor man’s Little Big Planet level creator, but what’s the point of creating a level or character if you can’t share them online with anyone??
Worse, the game freezes! Here at The Floor Seats we tested the game on both PS3 models (the original George Foreman grill type & the newer PS3 slim), and it froze at least 4-5 times, probably closer to 10 times total. It would routinely freeze when you moved your character at all after reaching 1 million coins in the “Super Bonus Levels,” at which point you would have to manually turn your PS3 off and restart it. Any progress you made since you last saved the game was lost!
What does the game do well you ask? The graphics aren’t bad by LEGO standards, and the official Indiana Jones soundtrack from composer John Williams is great as always. Plus there are plenty of extra features to unlock and enjoy (such as getting 10x the value for the studs you acquire), though even this concept is poorly executed: You must “turn on” each “extra” such as the 10x feature every single time you turn the game on! Even if you save the game with that extra turned on then quit the game, it will be turned off next time you start it back up. This is also the case if you merely change from 1 hub to another – why would you go from 1 hub to the next and NOT want to continue getting 10x the value for the studs you find??
The game does have trophy support, though I suspect this is only b/c Sony required it have that. Sony has stipulated that all PS3 games released 1/1/2009 or later must have trophy support; the first LEGO Indiana Jones and LEGO Star Wars games released before that lack trophy support & LucasArts has yet to provide an update to fix that.
All in all, there are certainly worse games out there, and it does start out with some cute, enjoyable levels, but with so many flaws this is clearly the worst LEGO game ever.
Verdict: 4 stars out of 10