LEGO® Indiana Jones© The Original Adventure




Genre:   Action

Developer:   Traveller's Tales Ltd.

Publisher:    LucasArts

Released:  June 2008

PC Requirements:   See review below




by gremlin


LEGO® Indiana Jones© The Original Adventure. Wow! That's a bit of a keyboard full of a name, let alone a mouthful. I think I'll stick to LEGO Indiana from now on, with apologies to the lawyers for brevity.

LEGO®? That's a children's toy that's just a bunch of coloured plastic blocks... isn't it? How can you make a decent game out of little plastic blocks?

Actually, LucasArts have just released their third game with the LEGO® branding! There have already been two very successful LEGO® Star Wars games – one based on the original trilogy of Star Wars films, and a second one of the later prequel trilogy. Now they've done it again with the first three Indiana Jones films as the basis for the adventure. Not only that, but this is also one in a long line of Indiana Jones games: the Last Crusade (1989), the Desktop Adventures (1996), the Infernal Machine (2000), the Emperor's Tomb (2003), amongst others. This guy is nearly as popular as Lara Croft!

If you've never seen the LEGO® Star Wars games, you'll still be wondering at this point how this could possibly work. I think it's fair to say that the LEGO® games don't tell the complete story of each film in quite the same level of detail as some movie spin-offs do. They each contain a précis of the story of the three movies. And let's be fair, with the LEGO® branding, they are very clearly marketed towards the younger end of the games market. But let us also give the game writers some credit – a lot of the essential elements of the Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Temple of Doom, and the Last Crusade are covered. The major characters are all there: Indiana, the girls, the side-kicks, the bad guys, the cannon fodder and even Prof. Henry Jones Sr. (Indiana's father). The locations are reproduced well enough that you can recognise the progression of the plot, and some of the pivotal moments of the films are reproduced as cut scenes using the LEGO® 'actors'.

It's at this point that I have to point out a serious issue of bias: I love LEGO®. I spent many, many pointless hours constructing all manner of buildings, vehicles and machines. I still own a significant pile of the basic blocks, the LEGO® Technic, the railways, the spaceships, and the robots. I'll try not to let this colour my comments on this game too much.

How do you play?

LEGO Indiana is an easy game to get started with. There is a simple menu with Load Game, New Game, Options, Coming Soon (with a trailer for a LEGO Batman game!) and Quit. There are only six slots in the save system, but as there are no dead ends or permanent deaths in the game, I never found any need to go beyond one. It is important to know though, that you can only save at the end of each section of the game.

The Options screens cover the usual settings: Sound, Music, Control setup, Video, and advanced video Effects. This is one area I would suggest is not aimed at the younger gamer, as it's rather more complicated than many other 3D games I've seen. It would be quite easy, with random poking of options, to turn a smooth running game into a resource hungry behemoth that will bring a 2 year old budget system to its knees. However, my own PC does not fit that description any more, so I could run the game with everything switched on.

One area that did cause me problems was the Controls editing screen. It's not laid out as simply as the rest of the options screens – presumably because I was playing a PC version rather than a console version. Having said that, there are eleven controls for each of the two possible players. But enough of my senior moments with the Options screens, lets get on to the game itself.

If you select New Game at the main screen, you are taken to Barnett College – to Indiana Jones' day job as an instructor in Archaeology. Actually this is another menu system, but presented as an environment where you run around using the Lego figures that are used throughout the rest of the game. The main menu is the main hall of the college, with a map for each of the three films covered by this game. Off to the left side are the library including a shop for purchasing more Lego characters, a classroom for inputting secret codes for bonuses, and a cinema for replaying the various cut-scenes you'll uncover later. To the right side is the garden that leads to the art classroom where you can build your own Lego figures from the components used to build the game characters, and the Post Room where you can buy significant boost options (e.g. x2 treasure, or invincibility), and an exhibition space where more secrets are hidden. Up the stairs from the main hall, you can get into the main Trophy Hall where special items found in the game are displayed.

Once you choose a film to play through, you are presented with a set of six scenes per film. However, to begin with, you can only access the first scene of each film. The films can be played in any order, but within the films, you must start by playing the six scenes in order. This is Story Mode. Upon completing a scene, you open the option of replaying that scene in Free Play. I'll come back to this distinction later.

Your actual objective in the game is to explore and problem solve your way through each scene. Along the way, you collect Lego studs (these are used as a currency to buy bonuses and characters back at the College), find hidden sections of the level, collect treasure chests (of which there are ten in each scene), and find red parcels and post boxes. Finding all ten treasure chests in a scene constructs a trophy which gives you a lot of studs, and puts the trophy in the Trophy Room back at College. By finding a red parcel and posting it in a post box, you get mail in the Post Room (also back at College) which gives you a bonus you can buy.

For each scene you can also attain a rank of True Adventurer by collecting 100,000 studs. This is not as hard as it sounds – I managed True Adventurer on the first run through of many scenes, simply by being diligent in picking up studs wherever possible.

The levels themselves are 3D environments, often quite linear, with a mixture of Lego objects and more realistic scenery. The Lego objects tend either to be breakable (and thus a source of studs) or manipulable in some sense (push-able, pull-able, drive-able) or sites upon which you can build. The puzzles to be solved are varied. There are a few inventory puzzles, but most are find-the-right-lever puzzles, or hidden objects that must be dug out of the ground, or combination locks, or building tasks. There is some combat as well. But this game is not a FPS or RPG, so it's pretty easy stuff if you can keep your head. Literally. When your character has taken four hits, he or she breaks into pieces (this is Lego afterall), and reforms after a few seconds. You take a penalty in studs, but that's about it. 'Death' is frequent, but far from permanent – just a little frustrating if you can't figure out how to avoid it.

At the start of a level in Story Mode, you are given a fixed set of characters (and their skills) to complete the level. You can swap between any of the selected characters at any time in the level. In all cases, you can complete the level with the characters supplied. However there will be sections of the level that you can't access because you won't have the right skills. These areas are where those final couple of treasure chests in the level, or the red parcel, or the post box, will be hidden. This means that you cannot complete all of the objectives for a scene just by using Story Mode. If you want to complete the entire game, getting 100% progress, you have to replay each scene in Free Play mode. Completing a scene in Story Mode will unlock Free Play, and may also unlock characters for purchasing in the library.

Characters in the game have skills like digging, code-breaking, machinery repair, bazooka soldier, high jump, and of course, Indiana Jones has his bull-whip, for swinging across chasms and grabbing objects. Some characters also have hidden special moves, but I'll leave you to find them for yourself (just like I'm not going to mention the secret bonus levels).

In Free Play, you get to choose a character from those you've unlocked (and bought in the library), and the game will fill out a selection of other characters from those available to give you as wide a skill set as possible. Now you'll be able to access all areas of the scene, assuming you've got sufficient skills, and can solve the access puzzles with them.

Wow! All that makes it sound such a complex game. Actually, when it comes down to it, it isn't. You run through the levels solving small puzzles (Which character has the skill for this bit? Where's the lever for the door? What do I have to break to get the Lego pieces to build the exit?), shooting bad guys from time to time, collecting studs, and searching for all the bonus collectibles. If it weren't for the fact that you can't save your progress within a scene, this would almost qualify as a casual game!

Notable Features

So, what is it that distinguishes LEGO Indiana from all the other Indiana Jones games that we've seen before? First of all, this is the first Indiana Jones game I've enjoyed since his Desktop Adventures. The others I've tried have all suffered from clunky controls, and feel like they're trying to be a Tomb Raider game without quite managing it.

The novelty of the Lego games is the mixture of Lego with 'real world' scenes. Okay, the whole game world is just a 3D model, but there's two distinct styles: the Lego and the 'real'. Breaking parts of the world apart to either find things, or make new things, is a neat game mechanic that appeals both to my destructive tendencies, and to my love of building with Lego. Ooops, there's that bias thing again!

Okay, back to LEGO Indiana.

It is very clear that this game was designed to play well on a games console (it's available for Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Playstation 2, 3 and PSP, and Xbox 360, as well as the PC version I played), so it's not surprising it plays well with a game pad (Saitek P2600 in my case). However, the controls are not hard with a keyboard either. As with many console games, LEGO Indiana can be played cooperatively, though there's no network play. Two players can share the keyboard, or mix and match keyboard and gamepad. If you're going for 100% completion, there are actually a couple of puzzles that require you to use both players simultaneously. So it's worthwhile making yourself familiar with both sets of player controls.

Overall, the game was easy to install, and very stable. I had no technical issues with it at all.


If you've seen the first three Indiana Jones films, as I have, the story that is retold here is easy to follow. But if you've not seen them, there are going to be times when the story is difficult to fathom. The reason for this is quite simple: the story is told as pastiches of the scenes in the films, but with no dialogue. That's right, there are no complaints about dodgy voice acting in this review – because the characters utter not a single meaningful word between them. The characters do make vocal noises, but they're grunts, moans, wails and questioning noises. You do get a sense of the broad-brush emotion that's being acted out. But there's no finesse, no detail, no... no... words!


Right, I've been rambling on like a bad movie for long enough now, so it's time to tie this up. I'm not going to mention where the secret levels are to be found, or how you get to them. Come on, you've got to figure out some of this stuff for yourself.

You will need a little film knowledge to finish (though trial and error would get you there in the end). But getting 100% is quite achievable without committing three months to the game. It took me about 15-20 hours.

There's a lot of talk in the serious game reviewing blogosphere these days about how we should be looking for the Citizen Kane of gaming. Well I have to tell you, LEGO Indiana isn't it, but that really does not matter one little bit. This is a game that's about having fun in a Lego universe, and the many 'oh, I recognise that bit from the movie' moments that you never thought could be rendered in Lego.

Revolutionary? No. But, just like the movies, it's a great diversion for a few hours... and the kids love it. Finally, I think my grade for LEGO® Indiana Jones© The Original Adventure reflects this solid, enjoyable performance, without overstating the strength of this title.

Grade: B+

What do you need to play it?

Minimum Requirements

  • CPU: Intel P3 1.0 GHz or AMD Athlon XP

  • Memory: 256 MB RAM. 512 MB RAM required for Windows Vista

  • Graphics Card: 128 MB Graphics card with Shader Model 2.0 Capability

  • Sound Card: 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible Audio Device

  • DVD-ROM: DVD-ROM drive

  • Input Device: Keyboard and mouse. Gamepad and joysticks supported

  • DirectX: 9.0c (August 2007) - included on this disc

Recommended Requirements

  • CPU: Intel P4 3.0 GHz or AMD Athlon 64

  • Memory: 512 MB RAM. 1 GB RAM recommended for Windows Vista

  • Graphics Card: 512 MB Graphics card with Shader Model 3.0 Capability

  • DVD-ROM: 8X Speed DVD-ROM drive

  • Input Device: Six Button Dual Analog Gamepad

(I used a custom built Win XP Pro SP2, AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual, 2048 MB RAM, XFX nVidia GeForce 8600GT 256MB video card, mother-board sound card, and a Saitek P2600 gamepad)


August 2008

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