Charming is the first thing that has always come to mind with Travellers Tales’ interpretations of major movie franchises, such is the ageless love that accompanies anything Lego. Bringing their own unique spin on platforming puzzlers, the studio has moved deftly from one George Lucas smash Star Wars to his other, Indiana Jones, with confidence and agility.
It’s taken a weekend of catching up with the 80s threesome (we’ll ignore Crystal Skull for now) to appreciate just what the game represents – there’s a fair amount of freestyling in the videogame but it’s true to say that every major movie moment has been captured with the usual aplomb we’d expect given the developer’s past experiences with Jedis and humanoid robots. Cut-scenes are (again) laugh out loud funny, and the retro 2.5D platforming sits perfectly with the old school mechanics and game design.
Not that everything is plain sailing here: Lego Indiana Jones suffers from the same rudimentary mistakes that the Star Wars games did: sections of endlessly spawning whip-fodder do little but get in the way of any puzzle solving and the omnipresent AI character’s insistence of nothing remotely useful grates after a while, but this is meant to be played in two player co-op and is all the better for having a like-minded friend over. The lack of online play is criminal, though.
Once the initial level of Raiders Of The Lost Ark is complete, Barnet College is open in its entirety and as is access to the first levels of the remaining two movies – thus it’s entirely possible to follow the plot of the films chronologically or pick and choose at will, with each completed area then being open for Free Play with your own choice of characters from those already unlocked in the game.
The controls are as simple as you’d expect, with face buttons for jumping and both short and long range attacks keeping everything intuitive for the most part. It’s odd that some functions double up as ‘use’ which can result in Indy and friends confusingly punching a piece of machinery rather than inserting a spanner, but levels are designed to be fail-proof so it’s only a matter of standing in the right place for the context-sensitive actions to fix themselves.
Visually it’s a notch above Star Wars, with richer colours and better lighting (the pre-recorded cut-scenes are equally brilliant) but this comes at a price in terms of the framerate, which despite being locked at 60fps results in some of the worse tearing we’ve ever seen on the PS3. Thankfully there’s a v-sync toggle in the options, which drops the framerate to 30fps but removes all the nasty tearing – the choice is yours but we can’t understand why the default isn’t with v-sync on.
Again, then, this is best enjoyed by fans of the movies, who will obviously get the most out of the game and appreciate the cut-scenes (and there’s even references to Star Wars here too for the ultimate Lucas-love in) but it’s reasonable to assume that with a touch of parental guidance the younger PS3 owners will have no trouble navigating the various traps and puzzles, given the game’s infinite lives and generous restart points.
Seemingly Travellers Tales can do no wrong, and this is yet another solid piece of fan service sure to be enjoyed by all but the most grim-faced of gamers. Sure, it’s too easy, very similar to Star Wars, and once completed doesn’t offer a huge amount of replayability, but what there is represents good value for money. We’re just hoping that for Batman the guys have a few new tricks up their sleeves and don’t rely on pushing blocks and holding circle to ‘build’.