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Indiana Jones goes Lego
By AARON SOLOMON  |  June 24, 2008
2.5 2.5 Stars

RAIDING THE INDYVERSE: The original John Williams score adds to the overall nostalgia for Indyphiles.

Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures | For the Nintendo DS, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, PSP, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii | Rated E 10+ For Everyone 10+ | Developed by Traveller’s Tales | Published by LucasArts
Somehow I missed out on the whole Lego video-game universe. Lego Star Wars? Never played it — which is saying something, since I’m a bit of a Star Wars freak. But I found Lego Indiana Jones a serviceable introduction, and almost as much fun to play as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was to watch. And if that’s not damning with faint praise, I don’t know what is.

Why Legos? It is a bit strange, but anyone who has played either of the Lego Star Wars games will find the mix of platform-style puzzles and action with the body-exploding violence of the Lego universe pleasantly familiar. And those who haven’t will be hard-pressed not to chuckle at the sight of all those Lego pieces flying through the air as they fight their way through a Lego-ized version of the original Indy trilogy.

Yes, I said trilogy — we’re spared the snoozefest that was Crystal Skull. The game starts, as it must, with the raiding of the lost Ark — actually the Hovitos’ cave. The cut scenes are ripped from the films, of course with their own Lego-inspired shenanigans. You still get a chin-rubbing Lego Alfred Molina looking on as Indy steals his prize, and Belloq still laments Indy’s puny grasp of the Hovitos’ vocabulary. I was happy to see that after your escape from the tribesmen (and, in an obvious homage to the past games, Indy’s offer of C-3PO’s head instead of the golden statue), Reggie the Boa Constrictor still pops up to scare our hero.

Once this first mission is completed, the rest of the Indyverse is opened up. This means you can skip from the search for Abner to the Shanghai Showdown with Lao Che (the early highlight — complete with an adorable poisoned Indy stumbling around the ballroom) to busting heads in Venice with Marcus Brody and Doctor Schneider. The capacity to choose in which movie you want to participate is another high point, and there’s delight to be found in watching your favorite scenes play out in Lego fashion. (This being an E10+-rated game, we’re spared/denied the awesome heart-ripping-out scene from Temple of Doom.) The search-and-destroy aspect — nearly everything in your environment is interactive and thus can be blown up — gets stale after a while, so it’s good that you can get a change of scenery.

The unlockable content is deep — there are more than 30 characters to be purchased or unlocked. The original John Williams score adds to the overall nostalgia for Indyphiles — especially when Indy’s theme busts out as you gun down a group of goons. There are also numerous goals to achieve, each taking the name of a famous quote from the Indy movies. The load times are excruciatingly long, however, and the “build-its” suffer from an awkward control system; this can become a pain in the ass when you’re up against the clock. The AI and camera controls are likewise uncooperative; the latter seem incapable of following some of the most important action.

This summer, on the heels of the next Best Movie Ever, The Dark Knight, the Batman universe will get the Lego treatment. Perhaps Lego Batman will correct Lego Indy’s flaws. Lego Indy is a kid-friendly addition to the Xbox library, one the youngsters will enjoy and anyone else will not find too cloying. I can’t justify spending $50 on it, especially given the poor load times and repetitive play, but it’s better than Crystal Skull. Well, almost.

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