We’ll admit, our relationship with LEGO Indiana Jones was a rocky one after our first bit of play with the Xbox 360 version. Perhaps we’d raised our estimations too high, our love for LEGO Star Wars having brewed an all-too-heady cocktail of expectation when mixed with our thermonuclear fanboy excitement over the new movie. Maybe, like a hyperactive birthday kid waiting for a favourite uncle or auntie to arrive at the party, we’d run around the living room whooping in excitement for so long that no present, however shiny the wrapping, could have ever matched up to our hopes when it turned up. Whatever the reason, after our initial state of “Ohmygod! It’s Indy and he’s made of LEGO and he’s all funny and falling over!” had worn off, we found ourselves facing the uncomfortable cold feeling of deflated enthusiasm.
Playing through the first few levels of the game’s Raiders Of The Lost Ark segment, it felt like something was missing. All the correct elements were theoretically there; smooth platforming, combat evocative of a bunch of toddlers having a fist fight, the movie’s iconic original score juxtaposed with all manner of tinkly, plasticy, LEGOey sound effects… It should have been bliss for a bunch of ‘80s-vintage man-children like ourselves. But it all just felt a little flat. Flat and repetetive.
Now we know that the LEGO games aren’t intended to be epic, medium-defining groundbreakers. They’re clever, knowing, knockabout fun, and that’s why we love them dearly. But the initial stages of the game found us dangerously close to losing interest. The new, more puzzle-focussed direction of LEGO Indy suits the source material perfectly and is a recipe for a huge amount of laughter and shouting in co-op play, but its implimentation in the early part of the game eventually made the experience feel very bland indeed.
Stale, monotone pacing and far too many recycled puzzle elements (Give the monkey a banana, recieve a useful object. We get it, okay?!) made us rapidly lose any concept of how far we were into a level, and in particular made the middle-eastern town section feel several hours long. Combined with the occasional unclear objective, a few seemingly random puzzle solutions (“Oh, we need to smash that piece of background scenery to get the key…”) and a largely fixed camera that wasn’t always fixed in the right place, LEGO Indy’s early failings were making us feel very sad indeed. However…