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LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures

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LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures PSP Screenshot

LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures PSP Screenshot

LucasArts has already had a couple of hit games combining LEGO blocks with Star Wars, and they're all set for another with LEGO Indiana Jones. This is definitely a must-play if you're into LEGO, Indiana Jones, or even just fun action-adventure games. Which system you'll choose to play it on is another matter altogether, however.

Building-Block Adventure

With the huge popularity of both LEGO and Indiana Jones, there's no question that this game would be a hit, even if it sucked. And because the Indiana Jones movies are all about both action and puzzle-solving, pairing the property with LEGO makes for an even better fit than combining LEGO with Star Wars (which isn't to say LEGO Indy is necessarily a better game than LEGO SW). And luckily for gamers, the game doesn't suck.

Long Ago . . . Wait, Wrong Movie

As the subtitle "The Original Adventures" indicates, LEGO Indiana Jones follows--more or less--the plots of the three Indiana Jones movies: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Naturally the game couldn't stick completely to the movie plots. Not only would there be no surprises for anyone but the six people who haven't seen the movies, but each of the three would require a whole game to itself--or more. So the game condenses the plots of the movies somewhat, taking the six most important elements (or at least six somewhat important elements) from each movie. The best bits are all present, from the rolling boulder and gun-verses-sword scenes from Raiders to the Zeppelin of Last Crusade (OK, so I'm a big sucker for airships).

Some of the characters get more active roles in the game than they had in the movie--Willie's role in Temple of Doom goes from helpless damsel in distress to LEGO baddie ass-kicking chick who is actually necessary to the resolution of the story, for example. And Sallah gets to do a whole lot more than he ever did on the big screen.

Each time you get through a level, you open it up for "Free Play" which allows you to go back as any character you have so far unlocked. If you want to collect all the items and get a 100% completion, you'll need to go back through all the levels, probably more than once. You can also build your own character out of assorted LEGO people parts, and play through with that.

Tiny Indy . . . Really Tiny

The basic mechanics of LEGO Indy are the same as those of LEGO Star Wars. Breaking stuff gets you money that you can use to buy more characters for Free Play and can earn you "True Adventurer" status for each level. Different characters can do different things: some, like Sallah or Jock, come equipped with a shovel or wrench so you don't have to worry about finding one; some, like Short Round, can fit through small spaces; and all the female characters can jump higher and farther (spots that specifically require a female character to solve the puzzle are marked with glowing flowers--I wasn't sure if I should be amused or insulted).

Different characters also have different weaknesses, which can affect their ability to perform. The female characters are afraid of spiders, while Indy himself can't stand snakes.

All this makes for one really fun game (though some of the environments do have an odd lack of actual LEGO pieces in their makeup). It's not without its flaws, however. The first and most noticeable problem--and this holds no matter what game system you're playing on (except maybe Nintendo DS, which is a whole different game anyway)--is the camera. You have no control at all over the camera, so you can't look around or adjust your view to better see a jump or dangerous obstacle. It's frustrating, but tolerable. I have seen very few games with really good camera systems.

Buried . . . Or Obvious . . . Treasure

The other big problem with LEGO Indy is specific to the PSP version, and that has to do with the tiny size of the screen. LEGO Indiana Jones for PSP is essentially a port of the big console game, which means that things that are perfectly visible in the PS3 version, for example, become very very tiny on the PSP. Thanks to the PSP's clear, sharp display, it doesn't completely cripple the game, but it can result in some serious eyestrain. I wish I had thought to use my PSP's component cables to play on my TV.

So, while LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures is a great game and very much recommended, if you have a game system other than the PSP (there are versions for PS3, PS2, Xbox 360, Wii and Windows; the DS version is really a different game), you might want to consider playing it on that instead. If all you have is a PSP, I don't think you'll regret buying the game--just be prepared for a lot of squinting at tiny objects.

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