Considering that the last LEGO Indiana Jones game contained three movies worth of gameplay back in 2008, seeing a sequel arriving after the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull got me wondering – “is there really enough content to make another one so soon?” However, The Adventure Continues is more than just the latest movie and instead promises to be a completely new take on the entire series.
So we now have all four movies in one – but how have Traveller's Tales made the first three segments any different to the original? Matt Boland, the producer of the game from Lucas Arts showed me a lot of the new features that players can expect. Firstly there are plenty of brand-new levels to explore and even those memorable ones (such as the temple chase and the fight in Marion's bar) have been over-hauled in the design department to add in new cut-scenes, puzzles and extras to unlock. Another new feature are added boss battles and a very intuitive split-screen feature.
In past LEGO games, playing with a friend was definitely a high-light. But, as many will know, having your screen stretched across to accommodate two players could be an extremely frustrating experience as well. Watching your mate attempt a jump a hundred times... or even worse just seeing him charge off to collect studs leaving you waiting was a sore point. In LEGO Indiana Jones: The Adventure Continues, the developers have now allowed players to run around in completely different parts of the level seamlessly. For example each level starts off with the two characters next to each other (across one screen) and as they part the screen slices neatly into two, one for each player to explore wherever they want. If the two players come together again the screen cleverly merges again without you even noticing. No more family feuds over little Mattie wasting time anymore as he attempts to find that elusive brick.
The hubs (the areas where players hang-out before actual levels) have been vastly improved as well. They are now much bigger, filled with more interactive activities and players will easily be able to while away hours in them just as they did before. Except instead of one hub, now there are over nine! Each one changing from film to film, but also within those films too according to where they are in the story.
The cut-scenes have also been over-hauled and one of the sequences I got to see was the opening of the ark of the covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Now anyone who saw this movie will remember that this isn't exactly the most kiddie-friendly scene to witness. In fact I'm sure I had nightmares after seeing grown men's faces melt off and dribble down their shirts. But of course in true LEGO fashion, the cut-scene is extremely cutesy and fun. Instead of face-melting, the Nazis do a funky dance. Problem solved.
The most appreciated new feature however is Indy's refined control over his whip. Back in the original game, your whip just latched onto whatever was close to you resulting in frustrating moments of trying to hit the right thing. Now you have complete control over it, letting you target any object or enemy around you. Holding down B gives you a cursor which can be moved around by the analogue stick to grab an object or whack an enemy (who might even be behind you). Or you can wrap your whip around an enemy and throw them around.
Finally the last main announcement is that the game will now ship with a full-blown level creator to really live out your LEGO building fantasies. The creator is intuitive, simple to use but opens the doors to infinite possibilities to create anything with your plastic array of pieces. The editor is like a game in itself, giving you a mini-fig who runs around placing bricks or moving objects around in isometric view so you can see exactly how the game will play out. There are six different toolsets giving way to creating levels that would make even the developer's proud and include: Mechanical, Baseplates, Landscaping, Curator, Enemies, and Props. Even creating triggers and buttons is a breeze allowing players to create fun death-traps or their own puzzles for friends to try and solve. Unfortunately Boland couldn't answer if these custom-made levels will be available to share online (he brought up the saga of Little Big Planet's strict moderation on their user created content) but players can certainly share them locally.
Personally, I think developing a LEGO Indy sequel so soon is a strange move. Granted Traveller's Tales have made some great improvements to the game – but how does this please those people who already purchased the original? Then again I have always found the Indiana Jones LEGO franchise to be the weaker when compared to Star Wars and even Batman. But with all of the scenes from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (the nuked fridge, the crazy monkey chase, the giant ants, etc) thrown in – this title is guaranteed to generate some laughs that we have grown to expect with LEGO video-games.
NZGamer.com would like thank Activision, Capcom, Microsoft NZ, SCENZ, SEGA, THQ and Ubisoft for making this trip possible.