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Game Profile
 Written by Jason Cisarano  on May 22, 2008

Hands-On Preview: It's all about the fortune and glory

Today, Indiana Jones hit theaters for the fourth time, and enthusiasts are awash in merchandise: new special edition DVDs, new action figures, and new video games. Most of the time, movie-video game tie-ins aren't anything to get excited over since experience has shown that great movies don't always make great games?and vice versa. One major exception to the rule has been the Traveller's Tales LEGO Star Wars series, with several consistently engaging and entertaining games in the franchise. When I heard that Traveller's Tales was working on the Indiana Jones trilogy, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the game and report back to you on the experience.

Like the LEGO Star Wars trilogies that preceded it, LEGO Indy tells the stories of each of the three films in six playable levels each. The demo shows off the first level from the first movie, which reenacts Indy's classic hunt for a gold idol in a Peruvian jungle and his subsequent escape. The treatment of the story will be familiar to players of the earlier LEGO trilogies: the game's faithful to the original without being too respectful, since the LEGO versions are full of campy gags that poke fun at the familiar movies. Unfortunately, also like the other LEGO games, the jokes aren't all that great and the cutscenes are not skippable.

Fortunately, the gameplay in LEGO Indy is a whole lot better than its sense of humor. This is great platforming, with vertigo-inducing ledges, ladders, and vines all for your jumping pleasure. The jungle environments look nice in the way they combine blocky LEGO elements with more natural-looking features. LEGO items like bushes and tall grass really stand out, which is good, because one of the things you'll do as you go along is bash them in search of rewards like points and health boosts. It's fun and gives plenty of replay value for the obsessive-compulsive types who want to collect every possible point and special item. The demo has two types of special items: gold statues and treasure chests are hidden around the level, and there are plenty of fiendishly well concealed locations that will take plenty of exploration to reveal.

In a bizarre twist of influences, the game includes vines that Indy can use to swing from one tiny perch to another, recalling the 1982 Activision game, Pitfall!. That old mega-hit for the Atari 2600 was released one year after Raiders of the Lost Ark debuted in theaters and featured a guy named Pitfall Harry combing the jungles looking for treasure and dodging bad guys.

In addition to the platforming and vine-swinging action, the game offers plenty of cool puzzles that encourage co op play. None of them are true head scratchers, but they're tough enough to keep you thinking without slowing the action down too much. For instance, one puzzle has one character moving along an upper level and manipulating machinery that allows a character on a lower level to advance and unlock yet another mechanism that will allow both characters to move forward. It makes the game feel more complex and makes the play more engaging. The game supports two players at the same time, but it won't allow for online multiplayer, sadly.

Final Thoughts
From all the screenshots, movies, and now the playable demo, LEGO Indiana Jones looks like it will not only do justice to its source, but will also be a solid entry into the LEGO franchise. Its puzzles will feel familiar to anyone who knows the movies, but they aren't so slavishly devoted to the source that they aren't a challenge. The only real criticism of the game so far is that it sticks too close to the formula of previous LEGO games. If you're a die-hard devotee of LEGO or Indiana Jones, then this is probably the game for you. If this will be your first foray into LEGO land, then you're sure to enjoy this one.

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