Lego Indiana Jones

Now that we’ve got the HTPC hooked up with a way to play games from the comfort of the couch… We’ve just got to have something to play on it, right?  Enter Lego Indiana Jones.  Sure, there’s probably ‘cooler’ games out there and all, but for two middle-aged adults hanging out on the couch and playing video games on the computer while the kids are asleep, it doesn’t really take much.

However, that’s really selling this game short.  This game is fun.  I mean, really fun!  For those of us who watched and loved the original Indiana Jones movies (okay, let’s be honest, no one liked the Temple of Doom) – it’s an enjoyable trip down memory lane.  Imagine a movie made purely with Lego characters, and then imagine you get to control those Lego characters.  Okay – if the movie you happened to imagine was an Indiana Jones movie, then… you’ve pretty much got a good picture of what the game is.

How does it play?

Well, I haven’t played the Lego Star Wars game (yet – I’m pretty sure we’ll have to pick that one up after we finish off this game), so this gameplay was pretty new to me.  It’s a bit like the platform-style games of old (yes, think Super Mario Bros), but it’s a lot more interactive.  Just about everything in the environment can be interacted with in some way – and sticking true to the game, much of the environment is built out of Lego pieces.

By interacting with the environment, for the most part, it means destroying it.  Not the ultra-violent blood and gore kind of destruction, but just bashing things to bits.  I don’t recall Indy leaving quite a wake of destruction behind in the movies, but I have to admit, it is kinda fun just demolishing each environment in each level.  For the most part, you’re just getting coins (or what they call ‘studs’) when you bash things, but those are desperately needed to buy all the cool stuff you can collect when Indy makes it past the level and heads back to the College.  The cool stuff you can buy centers mainly on unlocking characters to play in ‘free mode’.  Free mode is what you can play after you finish a level in story mode, and you have to do this so you can complete every little puzzle and get every little trinket since many of the ways to complete some puzzles require the special abilities of characters you unlock.

The levels remain fairly true to the movies, with some liberties taken (hey, these things are Legos – it’s already a bit of a departure).  To start and end the levels, and in the middle of some, there are cut scenes in which key points of the movie are recreated in Lego fashion, with a bit of extra humor added in as well.

The coolest feature is that it’s not just a single player game.  In both story mode and free play mode, you can play in cooperative mode with two players.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times the wife and I have ended up just laughing our heads off as we play together – mostly because she plays as Indy.  What’s funny about that?  Well, let’s just say her version of Indy wouldn’t have made it very far – Raiders of the Lost Ark would have been an exceedingly short movie.  Her incarnation of Indy tends to die time and time again just trying to make a very simple jump to a platform.  The absolute joy and relief when she finally manages to make the short hop is often times very short lived with Indy’s trusted sidekick knocking him right off again.  Okay, so it’s pretty juvenile – but it’s still funny.  Beyond the comedy, it’s also enjoyably frustrating when you’re trying to get the other person to do the tasks required to complete a puzzle.  You end up bickering just like a married couple.  Oh… wait.  That might not be the game…

The puzzles range from pretty darn simple to requiring quite a few steps combining one or two of Indy’s sidekicks.  The viewpoint can sometimes make it difficult to get around in certain places, but this can often be overcome by your playing partner moving to a more friendly part of the screen, since the game tries it’s best to keep you both on the screen at the same time.  There’s things you have to dig up, things you have to come find a part for and bring it back, things you have to build or fix, and certain places you have to disguise yourself in order to gain entrance to.

The graphics are pretty amazing – especially considering the resolution we play at.  Since we’re hooked up to a TV – we stay in 1080p native (i.e. 1920×1080).  Usually high resolutions lead to sluggish gameplay, and you have to knock the resolution down – but at 1920×1080 with all the graphic settings to high, we haven’t encountered any lag or slowdowns.  Just for reference, the HTPC isn’t anything too amazing (Vista Ultimate, Radeon 3870 512MB, Quad core 2.4GHz and 4GB RAM).

All in all, this thing is pretty enjoyable and has plenty of replay value.  Sure, you could make it through the whole story mode for a movie in fairly short order – but you’ll want to back through again and again until you get every last trinket.

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