So Many Studs, So Little Time
Aptly named, LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues brings more LEGO-stud collecting to Nintendo DS. Does LucasArts give fans another worthwhile adventure to bring with them on the go, or is Indy getting whipped?
The LEGO titles have carved out a solid niche of gameplay over the years, offering players a healthy mix of action, simple puzzle solving, and fan service, not to mention loads and loads of LEGO studs to collect. LEGO Indy 2 on DS focuses on The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and the story is told by way of comic-book-style still images. The cutscenes are a nice fit for the dual screen, and the presentation is quaint and enjoyable, if not completely unnecessary.
The game starts out with a bit of instruction on the basic mechanics. You move your selected character with the D-pad, jump with the B button, and attack with the Y button. Special actions are mapped to stylus control, though you can opt to use the A button instead, and in most cases, it’s preferable.
LEGO Indy 2 on DS is broken up into three acts, with a handful of chapters per act. Each chapter is bite-sized, which is nice, since you won’t be able to save mid-level. You’ll be in control of Indy, of course, most of the time, but you’ll need to switch between him and various other characters in order to solve puzzles and progress through a level. It’s a tried-and-true formula that seems to have an even greater level of polish in this latest LEGO adventure. Most of the series mainstays are back, but many of the puzzles feel fresh, and surprisingly enough, the game manages to be thoroughly enjoyable in spite of resting firmly on the foundation of games past.
One thing we especially appreciate about this latest installment is the constant focus on puzzle solving. There’s still a fair amount of fisticuffs tossed into the mix, but beat’em-up combat takes a backseat to true adventure gameplay, offering just the right balance of action to keep things interesting.
If you’ve played any LEGO game before, you know the drill. Break everything and anything within the environment in order to reveal a box, device, or set of LEGOs which can then be used to construct some other means of moving on to the next area of a level. LEGO Indy 2 has tighter, more interesting puzzles and contraptions than the previous game, and even if you’ve played just about every other title in the LEGO series, there’s still plenty of enjoyment to be had here.
The controls and mechanics in LEGO games have always been somewhat loose, yet it’s a design that works well for the type of gameplay on offer. Though the level design and adventure elements are generally more enjoyable and engaging than Indy’s last romp on DS, many of the same issues have carried over to this latest outing. Collision detection is a problem that crops up from time to time, causing you to fall from ladders or miss simple jumps. Cooperative A.I. is still as dumb as ever, though you won’t need to worry about breaking your LEGO buddy should you attack them unwittingly.
Unfortunately, a collection of weird bugs and glitches also make a return in The Adventure Continues. Items needed to complete a given area of a level will sometimes disappear, forcing you to redo entire chapters. There are also a handful of fairly cryptic puzzles that don’t quite fit in with the more casual-friendly scope the LEGO games are now well known for.
In spite of these issues, the variety of gameplay elements in LEGO Indiana Jones 2 is a real boon. Each level has a distinct look and feel, and there aren’t any lulls in the gameplay. It’s the type of game you’ll easily want to rip through, though it’s equally enjoyable in short stints. The hub area isn’t as interesting or user-friendly as past LEGO games, though, and there isn’t as much incentive to invest in the game’s unlockables. That being said, collecting LEGO studs is as addictive as ever. For some reason, it’s simply impossible to leave a single stud behind or any LEGO object left standing.
Like the console versions of the game, there’s co-op multiplayer via local Wi-Fi, and you can, of course, go back into chapters using any of the characters you’ve purchased from the hub shack to try and hunt down all of the game’s hidden items and extras. In that sense, there’s enough meat here to justify the game’s full retail price tag, but if you weren’t into the whole LEGO thing before, you likely won’t be swayed by what Indy 2 has to offer.
Visually, this is certainly one of the best looking and most polished 3D games on DS. The framerate is smooth, and the level of detail is truly impressive; you won’t see a single blocky texture in the game unless, well, it’s a LEGO block. A few neat graphical tricks are implemented to convey a sense of moody lighting and shadow, and there’s tons of visual variety to enjoy. The still-image cutscenes are an attractive addition, tying the presentation together nicely. There are, however, a few unsightly visual artifacts that appear onscreen from time to time. But as a whole, Indy 2 on DS is a very attractive production.
Though you’ve likely heard variations of the Indiana Jones themes many times before, they’re worked into the gameplay here in an effective manner. The music winds down during more methodical moments of puzzle solving and ramps back up when there’s danger on your heels. The sound effects are a particularly novel addition to the gameplay, making the collection of studs and destruction of environmental objects a truly satisfying pastime.
LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues is a fun little entry into the series. The mechanics are more polished than the first game, and LEGO-game fans will likely find the core gameplay to be as satisfying as ever. Of course, it’s equally likely the formula is wearing thin for some, and this newest entry won’t convert those who never cared for the series in the first place. Many of the same issues from past games return to cause ample frustration, and it’s not a terribly long adventure for the price. At this point, the LEGO games are like fast food – good fast food – but they’re appeal is limited. Indy 2 won’t keep you satisfied for long, but it’s fun while it lasts.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.4 Graphics
An excellent-looking 3D game on DS. A few unsightly artifacts and bland textures blemish the presentation slightly. 3.9 Control
The signature, loose controls work well for this franchise, but issues with collision detection can be frustrating. 4.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music’s old hat by now, but it’s worked into the gameplay effectively. Sound effects are wonderfully satisfying. 3.5
It’s really fun while it lasts, but it won’t last long. Even with co-op play, a clunky hub system and uninteresting unlockables leave little on the table once the story’s over.
3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.