LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues Review

By Jeffrey Matulef - Posted Nov 16, 2009

LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues is a more consistently fun adventure than its predecessor. Why? Shorter, more varied levels, splitscreen co-op, and the ability to toggle and aim items all go a long way toward improving on the prior LEGO games. That's not to say that Traveller's Tales shed all of the slight issues that each game of its franchises possesses.

The Pros
  • Charming presentation
  • Improved pacing
  • Enhanced split-screen co-op
  • Lots to discover and unlock
The Cons
  • Fixed camera makes depth hard to gauge
  • Clunky combat
  • Relies on source material's leftovers

LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues is a more consistently fun adventure than its predecessor. Why? Shorter, more varied levels, splitscreen co-op, and the ability to toggle and aim items all go a long way toward improving on the prior LEGO games. That’s not to say that Traveller’s Tales shed all of the slight issues that each game of its franchises possesses. An unwieldy camera and clunky combat remain a LEGO legacy plus, the sequel’s source material feels like leftovers and outtakes; however, the overall experience is much improved.  If you're a fan of both LEGO and Indiana Jones, but found the last game curiously lacking, this may be for you.

LEGO Indiana Jones 2

“Fortune and Glory, Kid.  Fortune and Glory.”

If you're an adult and interested in the LEGO series, there’s a good chance that you’re a parent, an older sibling, or mature enough to shamelessly indulge your inner child. By creating a brand that combines decades-old toys with Gen X coming-of-age stepping-stones, Traveller’s Tales has engineered the perfect trifecta of nostalgia, parody, and youthful wonder. The series has evolved glacially over the years and it's mostly the same mix of platforming, puzzle-solving, combat, and collecting that has made the series a success for the past half-decade. Thankfully, a series of incremental improvements have made Indy's latest adventure a significant step-up over his last.
The core gameplay remains much the same. The game switches up gameplay styles between simple one-button brawls, platforming, and light puzzle-solving. You toggle between characters from the Indiana Jones films, each with their own unique abilities.  Indy, for example, can use his whip to swing and tie up enemies, whereas all female characters can jump higher and Short Round can crawl through tight spaces.

Collecting studs, the game's currency, is a core part of the experience and it allows you to unlock more characters, which is a must-have for detail-oriented completionists. At any time a friend can join in with drop-in/drop-out co-op, making the experience all the more entertaining. It's a solid formula that's worked well in the past and continues to do so, which is not to say that this old archaeologist hasn't learned some new tricks. 

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“Hold on to Your Potatoes!”

For one, Indy and company has an improved moveset.  Many weapons such as guns, spears, and yes, Indy's whip, can be aimed manually. This frequently comes in handy when puzzle solving and trying to explore. Indy can also use his whip as a lasso to tie up enemies and drag them around. The other major new move is the ability to toggle between weapons, something curiously missing from the franchise until now. It can sometimes be troublesome to see what weapon is in any given character's hand -- an icon somewhere would have helped -- but by and large, it cuts down on frustration and backtracking and makes the game flow so much better.

And flow it does, as the pacing in LEGO Indiana Jones 2 has been greatly improved over LEGO Indiana Jones. Rather than plodding through levels lasting 20-30 min, you'll experience bite-sized chunks, which really drives the action. The levels are also more varied now, with some consisting entirely of skirmish-free puzzle solving, while others are almost entirely combat-driven. There are also boss fights as well as vehicle stages and while the controls aren’t always consistently reliable, they're good fun for the handful of minutes they occasionally pop up. However, it's LEGO Indy 2’s well-designed levels -- littered with studs, secrets, and all manner of things to play with -- that evoke this sense of discovery and uninhibited fun that achieves the spirit of both LEGO and Indiana Jones.

Possibly the most forward-thinking addition to the LEGO series this game has to offer is its wonderful split-screen co-op.  In previous games, you had to share a camera (often with dire results) as your partner dragged the camera along with them, often knocking you off into oblivion. The new camera is much improved and the splitscreen approach rotates based on where the players are in relation to each other. This makes finding one another a cinch. The camera improvement may sound like a minor touch, but it’s not. It makes the already great co-op experience better than it’s ever been, and might convert LEGO haters who griped about the co-op camera in past games.

The other new addition LEGO Indy 2 brings to the series is a level editor. It's only fitting that a series based on creation-focused toys would have a level editor. In practice, however, designing your own level is such a complex and arduous process that it's hard to imagine the LEGO-loving audience caring.  Though, the task will make you pine for playing with real LEGOs. Cross-brand marketing at its finest!

LEGO Indiana Jones 2

"Same Ol', Same Ol'"

The same bugbears that have always plagued the series remain.  Platforming continues to be more of an art than a science as an often uncooperative fixed camera (independent of the improved multiplayer camera) and shoddy collision detection conspire to make aligning jumps harder than it should be.  Combat is a bit of a mess, since the camera pans so far from the tiny character models that it's often hard to make out exactly what's going on. 

The other downside to LEGO Indy 2 is that Traveller’s Tales had already harvested its best source material in the first game. Even if you liked Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (and hey, some of us did), it's still taking it a bit far. Out of the game’s six chapters, three of them are dedicated entirely to the movie with aliens in it. Furthermore, it's hard to shake the feeling that TT’s treatment of the original trilogy isn't a B-sides compilation when the Raiders of the Lost Ark campaign skips Indy's famous debut scene in the jungle and Temple of Doom lacks a mine-cart chase. 

LEGO Indiana Jones 2

“It’s Not the Years, Honey. It’s the Mileage.”

Given that it’s the fifth game in the series and largely a rehash of the same source material as its predecessor from last year, it would be easy to mistake LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues for a heartless cash-in, but that would be a shame. No, it doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it doesn't have to. It takes everything that was great about the first game and fixes many of its faults. Shorter, more varied levels dramatically improve pacing, new moves are a lot of fun to mess with, and the redesigned split-screen multiplayer is a godsend -- plus, LucasArts has promised a post-release update to include online co-op functionality.  Whatever your feelings may be on Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I think it’s safe to say Indy’s LEGO counterpart is still going strong.