Nothing tickles the nostalgia glands in quite the same way as a classic movie theme, and John William’s Jurassic Park is amongst the absolute best. The moment its strains emanated from the television speakers, I was taken back to 1993 and to the memories of a film that truly encapsulates the spectacle of cinema.
LEGO Jurassic World brings together the original’s Michael Crichton-penned tale, it’s two sequels, and the brand new movie’s storyline all into a single package. Following a run through of Jurassic Park’s opening scenes, with the tense Velociraptor release and John Hammond’s recruitment of Dr. Allan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler, you’re given the choice of heading through either the original trilogy or the new movie’s storylines.
Unusually, you can switch between them from either of their central hub-world’s by hopping onto the Isla Nublar mono-rail so that, unlike the other LEGO tie-ins, you’re not required to finish them all chronologically. With the game having come out alongside the new film, this is presumably because many people will want to hop into the brand new story as quickly as possible.
Putting it quite plainly, Travellers Tales have delivered another solid LEGO title with a few minor refinements on the formula. Players spend the majority of their time breaking scenery and items, which then allow you to build elements that help you progress through the level. Different character classes are capable of special actions, necessitating regular switching between the members of your party in order to solve the gentle puzzles within the world. For example, specialists can jump into large piles of dinosaur dung in order to find useful objects, while hunters can track unseen paths and shoot tranquilliser darts.
However, this release has seen the removal of the time sensitive mini-builds that have appeared in the most recent LEGO games, which I actually think is a shame as it was a change to the gameplay that I’d enjoyed. There is also a huge reduction in combat, which is welcome as it’s always been incredibly simple and often quite dull. Some of the larger action-packed scenes are still controlled with QTE’s though, and these work particularly well in the context of the game.
The key addition to the formula here is the ability to play as dinosaurs. They’re fantastically animated across the board, and in the case of the larger breeds like Triceratops, carry a satisfying weight as they trample through the levels. Rampaging through a level as a dinosaur certainly makes the requisite destruction a lot more fun than it has become in recent years.
Velociraptors are given the respect their intelligence demands and alongside their leaping traversal they’re also capable of constructing LEGO objects like some of the human characters can. The cut-scenes in Jurassic World render their smarts playfully, toying with them using SAS-style motions to direct their pack, though they’re certainly no less menacing.
There are some really nice little touches to the game, from the loading screens where Mr DNA provides you with dinosaur facts, through to the fantastically realised cutscenes that truly capture the feel of the original movie. The first time you hear the T-Rex bellow and your controller shakes in your hands is perfect. Graphically Lego Jurassic World is amongst the best the LEGO franchise has created, with everything carrying a wonderful solidity and weight, alongside some pleasant graphical effects such as rain running down the screen during the original film’s action packed storm section.
The humour that the LEGO franchise is well known for sits well within the Jurassic Park world, and just as with LEGO Lord of the Rings, replaces blood-soaked scenes with amusing revisions, making it a great jumping in point for younger members of the household for whom the movies themselves may prove too scary.
There are still some fundamental problems with the formula, besides the obvious repetition that anyone who has played a number of LEGO titles will attest to. Platforming elements still suffer from poor camera angles, making even quite simple jumps easily missed, and often require a level of finesse that young hands may lack. There are some jumping sections that lock you into place so you just have to find the spot and hit X which is a lot easier and more effective, but I don’t know why some areas use this method while others don’t. The camera’s movement, or lack thereof, doesn’t help matters, and often resolutely ensures a poor view of proceedings.
There are a couple of specific oddities to the game as well, with one section requiring you to get your automated jeep past a fallen rock. You abandon your jeep miles down the road, and your companion Dr. Ian Malcolm often runs off to get back in it. Despite there being vehicle spawning points further along I found myself having to head all the way back for my specific vehicle to advance the story. I also ran into a glitch where my second character had fallen through the floor in one portion of a level, but as is often the case with the LEGO games it was rectified by running as far away as possible so that they respawned near me. Aside from that, it is really a very solid game.
It should be noted that there is a very particular sideline in sexism in LEGO Jurassic World, which has appeared before in the LEGO franchise but seems clearer this time. Female characters are more athletic and can jump higher, though these sections are hot pink and purple in case you’re not sure who they’re intended for. This isn’t ultimately so bad, but the girl’s screaming being a special move that can break glass just didn’t sit right with me, especially when combined with the fact that female characters do far more cowering than their male counterparts.
LEGO Jurassic World strikes an excellent balance between delivering a nostalgic take on a beloved series of movies, whilst incorporating the brand new Jurassic World storyline as well. By allowing you to choose your jumping in point it also frees you up to experience them in your own order, and whilst the formula is becoming tired in some aspects, this is the most refined Lego game yet, displaying a snappy pace that previous games have often lacked. You should also never, ever, underestimate the simple draw of being able to play as a dinosaur.
Version tested: PS4