Genre: Action Developer: Lucas Arts Publisher: Lucas Arts Classification: PG Release Date: 25th Nov 2009 Platforms:XBOX360
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The Good bits
The Creator mode is excellent, and very easy to use.
A new targeting system means pointing and praying is a thing of the past.
Henry Jones Sr.
The Bad stuff
Three times as much Crystal Skull content as any of the original movies.
.I. is still aggravatingly stupid.
Levels have been shortened significantly.
I pretty much had my life planned out at the age of 8. I'd just seen my first Indiana Jones movie, and I was going to be an archaeologist. Stopping bad guys, saving villages, acquiring immortality - archaeology sounded like a pretty sweet gig. I literally thought that's what I would be doing as an archaeologist until around age 14. It's not just Indiana Jones' fault, every book I ever read about archaeologists had them doing that stuff constantly. None of them had any basis in fact, probably because real archaeologists do the most
incredibly boring work on earth.
Normally when media lies to me, I get so upset I never want anything to do with it ever again. The Indy films are different however. No matter how much it hurt to be lied to like that, I continued to watch them, and still watch them to this day - I just love Indiana Jones that much. I love Indy so much I can usually totally forget the fourth movie was ever made. I say usually because, every now and then, something like Lego Indiana Jones 2 comes along, slaps me in the face and starts the nightmare back up again.
The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is not just one of the scenarios, but three. Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues has six scenarios - one scenario for each of the first three movies, and then the Crystal Skull is broken up into three parts. And what's more, the levels based on the original trilogy are all different from the levels in the first Lego Indy - you know, the Lego Indy game that had playable Lego versions of all of your favourite bits of the movies? That's right, you can no longer make a terrified bolt out of a cave with a boulder hot on your tail - now Raiders starts off at Marion's bar.
The game only gives a bizarre and incredibly basic summary of any non-playable events in the original trilogy. Raiders starts with a cutscene of Indy talking to Marcus, who points to an empty pedestal. Indy jumps in a plane and flies over some snow topped mountains to land at Marion's, just in time to save her from Major Toht wielding the headpiece like a laser. A summary of major events was to be expected - the first Lego Indy covered the original trilogy very nicely already, but it's difficult to understand why they would exclude so much, and mix things up so strangely - especially compared to Crystal Skull.
Naturally, as Crystal Skull was left out of the previous Lego Indy, it received much larger coverage than the first three films. Every soul-destroying part of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has been faithfully recreated; including the fridge, the monkeys and even the prairie dogs at the start of the film, indicating George Lucas was about to ruin yet another beloved franchise. Excluding the story, the Crystal Skull levels are a lot of fun - more fun than the original trilogy's levels in this game due to the game not using particularly great parts from the original three movies. Changing from the mid thirties to the late fifties is also pleasant - while the first three movies are certainly different in settings, Crystal Skull's differences are much more apparent.
Leaving aside any Indy specific issues, there have been a lot of changes since the previous titles in the Lego series. Levels are now shorter - I completed most of them the first time around in well under ten minutes, including time to collect enough studs for the 'True Adventurer' status. Loading times haven't changed though, they are still amazingly long for this day and age, and they feel even longer when attached to the shorter levels.
The hubs have changed, and now each movie hub is like an open world level unto itself. Puzzles need to be solved to unlock bonus levels, and unlocking different characters and vehicles gives you access to different levels and parts of the hub. There are also a 10 red, blue and green blocks hidden throughout the level which unlock cheats activated in the extras menu. The new hub design is a nice upgrade, although, like the loading times, the larger scope makes the levels seem even shorter in comparison.
The controls have been reworked, and most of the changes are good, especially the new targeting system. Gone are the days of facing your character in the general direction of whatever you want them to use their powers on and praying it registers. Now holding X brings up a cross hair, allowing you to target exactly what you want. It's a welcome addition, especially coupled with how incredibly stupid the A.I. can be at times. On the other end of the spectrum, operating vehicles is now nigh unbearable. The incredibly touchy and new controls work directly against any attempts made to go somewhere specific, or do anything in particular. All of the land vehicles (not including animals) are now ridiculously top heavy, and if they are capable of flipping, you will spend a lot of time upside down.
The A.I. is apparently upgraded, but it is just as frustrating and stupid as ever. Your partner character will spend the majority of their time trying to run through a wall, or trying to jump onto a ledge far too high to jump onto - right next to the ladder you used. I'm not sure if it's: a design choice; laziness; or the efforts of the worst QA team in the world; but your partner still spends an impressively long time dead in each level. They have a variety of methods, from walking into lava, jumping in front of your vehicle, stopping your bullets with their face, and standing so close you get goosebumps and can't swing your whip without slapping them half to death. I'm not saying they spend all their time respawning, just any time you want to use them.
Also new to the game are the two extra modes - Super Bonus Levels and the Creator. Super Bonus Levels are similar to the Lego World levels in the previous games. Your task in these levels is to get one million studs as fast as possible, without the multipliers and stud magnet cheats. Unlike Lego World levels however, you get to keep your million studs at the end of a Super Bonus Level, making them an easy method of achieving your first few stud multipliers (stud multipliers stack and carry over between scenarios, once you've got 3 you easily make millions just playing regular levels.)
The Creator is a brand new mode however, and probably the only really good reason to grab this game. The Creator, fairly obviously, allows you create and design your own levels, characters and adventures. Building a level can be fairly complex; fortunately it comes with a set of very easy to understand tutorials. The building control scheme is very intuitive and easy to grasp, and even a player who hasn't played the tutorials can build basic levels in no time.
Creating characters is a fun diversion, and it allows for a decent amount of variety in your characters. The creation method is very similar to every other game with a character creator, and, like in every other game, it works well. So far I've built River Phoenix Indy, All-Grown-Up Short Round and Henry Jones Sr (in his martini swilling, baccarat playing bachelor days.) Thanks to a time paradox, and the ease with which an adventure can be built, the three of them have travelled the world rescuing artifacts for Marcus.
I'm very torn over Lego Indy 2, and I've had a difficult time deciding whether I like it or not. The new scenario hubs are a great addition, and the free-roaming aspect adds a lot more to the game than wandering through different doors. Reducing the length of the levels however, was a big mistake, and if I had to go back to walking through doors in exchange for a decent sized level, I would in a heartbeat. The addition of the Creator is definitely worthwhile if you're a Lego fan - it could only be bettered with the addition of an online sharing component.
When it comes down to it though, what I'd like is the original Lego Indiana Jones levels inside this game. Regardless of my feelings for The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie, its levels were longer, set in interesting scenes, and did what the Lego games have been doing from the start - paying excellent tribute to one of my biggest heroes. The new levels for the first three movies barely make any sense, let alone do the series justice. If you're going to get it, grab it for the Creator. Otherwise just play Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures.