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LEGO Indy Jones 2: It's Own Classic
on December 16, 2009
I just assumed that LEGO Indiana Jones (LIJ) 2 would be more of the same from the first title. However, due to the high price for LIJ2, I figured out the new feature that was all the buzz: players can create their own levels. Also, there were elements from each of the four Indiana Jones movies in this LIJ2 package. So in a sense, the higher price indicates that there is more play in LIJ2 than in LIJ1. Now that I own the game and have played it extensively, I thought I'd tell you about it.
First off, the price will come down, but not until after the holidays. Is LIJ2 worth $30? I think it is worth $20-$25; so if you find it in that range, then you are doing alright. Of course, if paying $3-$10 more doesn't really concern you, then don't worry about it.
Next, what is different. The first LIJ was from the now-classic mold of LEGO movie games, especially reminiscent of the LEGO Star Wars series. Basically, if you didn't know, the LEGO Batman, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars games are super awesome for a wide range of players over the ages of 9. The game play is simple: with a game controller, you only use four buttons to play in the Story Mode (which mimics the movie plots to a large degree), and five buttons when doing the Free Play mode. The story settings are wonderfully crafted with the computer graphics and really bring to life that sense of engaging within the movie yourself, albeit with little, humorous, plastic LEGO characters. These LEGO games have been great. How does LEGO Indiana Jones 2 compare, then?
LIJ2 does not come from the mold of those previously mentioned now-classic video games. However, I think that LIJ2 is developing a new sub-genre that could be a classic in and of itself. That is, I live to play video games that I can customize. While I love also playing video games that let me interact in movie stories that I have always loved, I love also being able to contour my gaming experience when I can. LIJ2 breaks from this LEGO video game mold in that LIJ2 is really just based on the concept of customization - it is not a mimicker of the movies that we watched and loved. Instead, this game focuses more on the Creator Mode, and the levels you play that are based on the four Indiana Jones movies are really just preparation for when you get to the Creator Mode.
You will notice that all the levels in this game are based around simple, universal concepts, similar to the previous LEGO titles, but different. Examples: Indy's whip pulls hooks and bad guys; bottles of water put out fire; rockets and grenades blow up metal; swords cut ropes; etcetera. The point is that each of the LIJ2 levels are designed around these simple concepts. So what's new in the LEGO franchise, then? Well, LIJ2, like I said, is really just prepping the player as he/she goes through the pre-designed levels (based on the four movies) so that when they attempt the Creator Mode, the player can put all that knowledge to use. Therefore, as aforementioned, LIJ2 is squarely focused on the Creator Mode, which is the customization feature of this game. The levels just prepare you for that, utilizing familiar characters from the Indiana Jones world (over 60 characters and vehicles) and some familiar movie story plots (though not many).
As for graphics and game play in LIJ2, I would say that there have been some improvements over the previous mold, as I call it, though nothing earth-shaking. What takes time to get used to - and you don't always have time in these types of action games - is utilizing weapons or tools that need to be aimed. For example, when Indy needs to hook onto something with his whip, you need to actually hold down the button, target the object, and then let 'er fly. If you recall from the previous LIJ, you simply put the whip out there by hitting the button, and he'd grab it. Of course, now the whip does other things, such as tying down bad guys (so that they are immobile) and doing multiple, consecutive whip swings. They can even damage other characters, though only at close range. There is no longer long-range whip damage to be dealt.
The other graphics to mention are the playable levels. You will notice some similarities to the levels of the previous LIJ, though the interactions will be different, and there will be subtle differences and nuances. In all, the levels look superb, whether you are engaging in what I call the 'world plots' (the central locations for each movie that are effectively islands with various terrain to exemplify the movie locations and have side quests) or the 'level plots' (the places you go into from the 'world plot' to perform the various required quests). The terrain and water always look beautiful, and using the various instruments around the places are always fun and engaging. But on that note...
Utilizing the vehicles in LIJ2 is a nightmare, I believe. That seems to be the only shortcoming of this game, I am afraid to admit. Basically, the ground vehicles travel at a very fast rate. This would be fine if the handling were much better or if the rate could be altered instead of tapping the breaks constantly or taking your thumb off the directional stick/pad. What ends up happening is that flipping over in the land vehicles is all too easy. It becomes exceedingly frustrating, especially when time is of the essence in completing certain missions. And that, then, becomes the underlying problem with this game, unfortunately: there are so many missions that require driving land vehicles! There is at least one for each in the movie levels. Imagine: you are driving to get somewhere (or away from somewhere), and then you need to quickly turn to the left. You will roll over and become cannon fodder - a sitting duck - way too easily. Then, the rebounding time is long enough that you dread it, especially when you roll over several times, which is easy to do. This is the one reason why I gave this game a 4-Star rating instead of 5 stars: the land vehicles problem. I say, either slow them down do that turning is simpler, or otherwise eliminate the tipping over issue. If there weren't so many land vehicle missions, I'd probably be able to overlook them, but alas, they are quite prevalent.
Other than the land vehicles, the water and air vehicles have their issues as well, though not quite so bad. For the water vehicles, which are predominantly used in the 'world plots,' as I call them, they move somewhat slowly but have very poor handling. You can't turn these things around without wasting a lot of time. And that submarine will drive you crazy when you get it stuck at the bottom of a rock face ridge. The airplanes provide the best graphical displays, in my opinion (I yearn to fly a real plain for the very reason that I could see everything below me), and they handle the best out of the vehicles. However, they still require some getting used to.
In all, the vehicles in LIJ2 are what let me down, even though they are cool just for existing and able to be used. They look really great! They just move like crap! I think the game designers wanted to instill a sense of realism in the physics of these vehicles, which is why they are subject to things like tipping over (when making hard turns at fast speeds) and slow movements (as when on the water). And I suppose that Indiana Jones never had access to The Force, so I suppose he was more bound to reality. But as a gamer, I think it is wiser that my games should frustrate me less. If they want to make a game based on the physical realities of driving a truck or commanding a ship, then that should be sold separately. As it sits now, I just want to play LIJ2 and get my ship to collect those Studs in less than 10 minutes.
Anyway, moving along, I would like to mention that the scenes from the movies are well replicated, and you will especially enjoy the Crystal Skull concepts that you haven't seen before in a video game. Just beware, the story lines in LIJ2 are not what they are in the first three movies! Crystal Skull is the only one that is more closely replicated here.
The last topic I'd like to discuss is the general game concept of LIJ2, especially in comparison to the first title. As with the previous mold, where collecting Red Blocks (in LIJ1, for example, these were packages that were discovered and mailed back to Barnett College for Indy to open later) enabled special game play attributes, LIJ2 goes above and beyond. Now you can collect Red, Green, and Blue blocks. And given that four movies are represented here, that is a lot of additional game features! I won't give any of them away, but if you are familiar with the other LEGO video games, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect, or will at least be familiar with most of them.
Also, the idea of traveling between terrains in the 'world plots' is an interesting thing. Say, for example, that Indy goes to the snowy region of Tibet or the jungle region of India in the same movie, such as in Temple of Doom. Well, the 'world plot' for Temple of Doom is this large island with both terrains connected by a bridge! But you do get the sense of coming down the mountain, as it were, and into the jungle based on the graphics. This is one way that the developers crammed all that good stuff into one movie's 'world.' And that is where your players can interact, similar to Barnett College in LIJ1 or the diner in LEGO Star Wars 1. But in LIJ2, these transition points are actually rolled up into this island 'world,' and there is much to discover here! It would be like going to Barnett College and breaking things and digging things up in order to find Red Blocks. The difference in LIJ2, then, is that you have to travel all around the desert, a jungle island, and a German military installation (as in Raiders of the Lost Ark) looking for them. This as opposed to, say, traveling around Barnett College from room to room just looking for more Studs to collect.
So I think that LEGO Indiana Jones 2 really brings out a lot of great concepts that we have not seen before, and they are very good ones. (Except for the plethora of vehicle interactions.) This game last longer than the other LEGO titles (except for LSW: Complete Saga) and brings out that discovery bug that we all seem to have. Once you get the hang of things, you will know what to look for when trying to find something, but LIJ2 still gives you plenty to work towards until being able to progress further in the game. Also, there are new character interactions that you were not expecting, similar to playing LEGO Batman all the way through and finally realizing that you needed the Joker just to get that one Treasure Chest! So for $20-$25, I'd say that it is worth its weight, especially given the Creator Mode that I will not discuss here. (Because Creator Mode is the hallmark feature of this game, I will leave it as something for you to discover. Just know that if you saw it in the game levels, you will be able to put it into your own levels!)
To close, I recommend LEGO Indiana Jones 2 for kids 12 and up. The previous LEGO games could work for kids ages 9 and up, though mostly just for the Story Modes. LIJ2 is more complicated, and because it is not based too closely on the movies for the most part, a kid younger than 12 might get bored by the complex requirements for getting to that cherished 100% completion mark. Even in Story Mode for LIJ2, I think that most kids under age 12 will be challenged greater than in the previous mold. But if your kid likes to tinker and can sit for hours without throwing game controllers, maybe he/she can enjoy this game fully. But to get the most bang for your buck, this really is a sixth-graders game. (And a 32 year-old's game!)