There's something undeniably appealing about Lego games. I wasn't even a big Lego fan as a kid, but seeing classic characters and moments from film play out as if performed by a group of seven-year-olds is something most people will enjoy. It's this universal appeal that has given the previous Lego games such success and which should see Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures riding high in the charts for some time. Although many might claim that this is simply Lego Star Wars re-skinned (the games do feel remarkably similar), kids and Indiana Jones fans will find an awful lot to enjoy.
As with the original Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures features the first three classic movies - there's no Crystal Skull here. So we've got the 1981 classic Raiders of the Lost Ark, the not so classic Temple of Doom from 1984 and the magnificent return to form that was 1989's Last Crusade. The game begins, as it should, with the Lost Ark. After navigating a number of deadly traps Jones recovers an ancient gold statue, triggering a cave collapse in the process. This is all played out with the kind of mime-like comedy the Lego games have become known for, and results in Jones running for his life.
Although Jones escapes, he runs into French archaeologist and rival Dr. Rene Belloq. - cue a Lego figure acting about as French as a virtual plastic figure can. Belloq takes the statue and Jones flees on a seaplane, only to come face to face with the pilot's pet snake, which is yet another excuse for some light comedy. It's here that the game opens up, allowing you to visit Barnett College, which acts as the game's hub. Here you can access all three movies, playing them out of turn if you wish.
A big part of Lego Star Wars' appeal was how it allowed you to play as numerous characters from the movies. I think it's fair to say that the characters from the Indiana Jones movies aren't quite so well known or as diverse, but if you've watched the films you should spot quite a few. Of course, Jones is the main man, carrying his whip that allows him to latch onto things from distance and attack enemies. In the game this means he's perfect for getting across perilous gaps and he can grab items without having to run up to them.
As in Lego Star Wars, certain characters are required to do certain tasks, and at times you won't be able to access these characters until you've progressed further in the game. This happens far less often than in the Lego Star Wars games as most characters can pick up and use items required to access certain areas, but there are still sections that absolutely require a certain character class. A second player is always active, with the AI doing a decent job of following you around and completing tasks required of it, but playing with a real player is far more entertaining. A second player can hop in and out as they please, but the online co-op found in Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is sadly missing.
Essentially gameplay is as it was in Lego Star Wars, with plenty of button mashing or Wii Remote waving required to turn your enemies into tiny Lego pieces. But there are loads of puzzles too, with the difficulty and thought required seemingly raised a notch over those in Lego Star Wars. We're not saying you're going to need to be a member of Mensa, but sometimes you'll have to do some hunting around for the solutions. New to the game is a phobia system, which makes characters freeze if they encounter something that scares them. In Jones' case he's afraid of Snakes, so if he encounters any you'll need to take control of another character until the threat is neutralised.
Die-hard Indiana Jones fans will quickly realise that this isn't a straight up Lego copy of the films. Although all the key moments and scenes play out in the game, they're often elaborated on with more puzzles and platforming sections. This is no bad thing, as the game manages to delicately walk the line between straight up action game and adventure. It's all put together in such a charming way few people will find reason to moan.
Once again appearing on numerous consoles, including Wii, PS2, Xbox 360 and PS3, Lego Indiana Jones isn't a graphical showcase. Like Lego Star Wars before it, the next-gen versions feature some extra graphical effects and run at a higher resolution, but all the games are essentially the same. It's still got a wonderful child-like appeal and once again developer Traveller's Tales has managed to give basic plastic objects a real sense of character. There's not a line of spoken dialogue in the game, but the use of gestures is simply brilliant.
For the most part Lego Indiana Jones is a game that gamers of all ages can enjoy. In fact, it's one of the best games on the market if you're after a co-op experience that doesn't require two experienced players. Having said that, there is the occasional tricky platforming section and from time to time the camera doesn't behave itself, causing one player to die at its hands. These aren't really game breaking problems as your character is simply placed back in the game, but annoying nonetheless. In the next-gen versions there's also some noticeable screen tearing. This is solved by turning V-Sync to On in the options menu, but this makes the game run a fair bit slower.
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures doesn't quite live up to its Star Wars cousins, mainly due to the fact that Star Wars is simply a more memorable series, but it's still a brilliant adventure and great fun. Although the gameplay is quite familiar, the settings and puzzles make for a game that feels quite different to Lego Star Wars. Traveller's Tales' latest is unlikely to evoke the same kind of memories in as many people as Lego Star Wars did, but Lego Indiana Jones is still an adventure worth taking.