It's only a matter of weeks before Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the next big-screen adventure of everyone's favourite archaeologist, is released. LucasArts will follow hot on its heels with Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Trilogy on practically every current gaming platform available. We recently managed to snag some time with the PlayStation 3 build of the game, and it's clear that developer Traveller's Tales has so far managed to re-create the same charm and accessibility that made the Lego Star Wars games so appealing.
For the uninitiated, Lego Indiana Jones breaks down the content of the first three films into six episodes per film in the same way previous Lego Star Wars games did with each of their source movies. Our last hands-on with the game focused on the first two levels of the Raiders of the Lost Ark section, so we decided to jump straight into the first level of the next section, based on the second film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This scene takes place in a Shanghai nightclub, where a white-suited Indy is poisoned by some Chinese gangsters. A mad scramble ensues with the good Indy trying to grab the antidote. As in previous Lego games, you can switch control between characters on the fly (the supporting character in this opening scene is the singer Willie Scott), and another player can jump in at any time.
Cooperation between the playable characters seems like it will be as big a part of this game as it was with Lego Star Wars. You have to exploit the various capabilities of each of the characters to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. It's particularly important in this level, because the Indy character is handicapped due to the poison and is unable to jump to the same height or perform his normal attacks. Gangsters have surrounded Indy, and you will need to throw fake blue antidote bottles at the baddies until they spill the real thing. Willie has to carry most of the burden here, and although she doesn't have the same strength as Indy, she can jump greater distances (something she shares with the other film characters in the game). She also has a piercing scream attack that can shatter glass, which is useful for grabbing an essential item to get out of the room.
Once down to street level, Indy and Willie are joined by Short Round, who is needed to crawl into small spaces and grab some vital car parts for the trio's getaway. There's a small taste of vehicle action here. Indy can drive the completed car around a short distance and slam into enemies, which is good fun if a tad brief. Finally, the trio moves into an airport, where after a bit of light puzzle solving, Indy, Willie, and Short Round make their getaway.
The next level we played--the first in the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade section--showcased much of the same cooperative action as the Shanghai section. This one takes place in Venice, with Marcus Brody and Elsa joining the action. Both Brody and Elsa share the same special move, which is the ability to "decode" special tablets that can unlock certain doors. This takes the form of a basic Simon Says-style minigame where you have to repeat a specific pattern that occurs on the tablets. Starting on the streets of Venice, the level moves inside a large library before heading underground to follow Indy and Elsa. The finale of this level takes place on the canals, with Indy jumping into a small speedboat to chase down the baddies.
Fans of the Lego Star Wars series will be happy to hear that apart from some small additions to gameplay, Lego Indiana Jones feels very much like those games. That is, it's cheery, easy to control, and just a little taxing on the old synapses with the occasional tough puzzle to conquer. Indy himself is a fairly durable character to play, and his whip acts as a standard attack as well as a way to cross large chasms, pull levers, pull enemies closer to him, and more. Indy and the other characters can also pick up and use objects in attacks--chairs, spears, swords, and even guns can be used (although guns have limited ammo). There will be more than 60 playable characters in the final version of Lego Indy, and the ability to mix and match Lego pieces from various characters will also make a return.
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures will be released in early June on the PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, Wii, PC, PSP, and DS. Check back soon for our full review.