So, Lego Indiana Jones. Is it as good as Lego Star Wars? Is it as good as Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, even?
Well, no and yes. I mean, I liked Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (except for the end bit, which killed me to death), but I loooooved Lego Star Wars. I’m getting ahead of myself.
It plays well, definitely. The bouncy, seemingly-simple control scheme from LSW has translated well to the whip-crackin’, treasure-plunderin’, Nazi-punchin’ Indy milieu. A swing of the Wiimote and Indy’s whip is lashing at enemies or snatching up out-of-reach objects. Playing as other characters, the same action will cause them to smack someone in the face with a shovel, or crack them with a bottle. But you won’t want to play as someone else for long. It’s all about the Indy. The range of his movement far surpasses that of the Star Wars minifigs (ducking punches, slamming both-feet-first into an enemy’s chest, swinging across gaps with his whip), and his charm in the cutscenes is bountiful (thanks largely to the accuracy with which Traveller’s Tales mimic Harrison Ford in teeny-tiny plastic form… this is most evident in his College Professor incarnation).
There’s a lot to love about Lego Indiana Jones, most of it from the source material. That music kicking in when the action is at its most hectic , or the aforementioned charm of the characters.
But there is something.. wrong, somehow. I suspect it’s also due to the source. The set-pieces lack the frenetic rhythm of the films; quite rightly, of course, you’re supposed to be able to enjoy them and beat them without being perfect. The boulder escape is a classic example – the film version is over in moments, really, but it’s a huge scene. The Lego version lasts longer, giving you time to pick up extra studs and find secret passageways, but this has the side-effect of diminishing the peril. The Star Wars games got away with this because the pacing of the films tends towards the ponderous, even in the most frantic sequences. This allows the players time to wander through levels without feeling as if they really ought to be getting on with it. There’s a sense through Lego Indy that, you know, things aren’t happening quite fast enough.
Having said that, it looks great, it plays like a dream and it’s still plenty fun. I look forward to the extras I haven’t got yet, and I can see myself spending a lot of time wandering its large, rich levels.