After the unbelievable awesomeness of LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, Travelers Tales and Warner Bros. Interactive team up yet again to bring the world of the Jurassic Park franchise to game consoles. LEGO Jurassic World is the fruit of that labor. But, how does the somewhat more mature world of the Jurassic Park franchise translate to the somewhat sanitized world of LEGO games. I have played through the entire story mode and am ready to deliver my verdict on the final product. The park is open, should you go? Read on and find out.
FIGURES AND MORE GAME REVIEW
LEGO JURASSIC WORLD
Warner Bros. Interactive
PS3, PS4, X-Box 360, X-Box One, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita, PC
NOTE: THIS REVIEW IS OF THE PS4 VERSION
Over the years, we have seen Travelers Tales take various film franchises and give their worlds the LEGO treatment. Beginning, fittingly, with Star Wars, they have adapted Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and the Hobbit. Most recently, they have turned their attention to comic book worlds, making the successful LEGO Marvel SuperHeroes game, as well as three commercially successful and critically acclaimed LEGO Batman games. Now, they embark on what may be one of their most ambitious projects ever. They will be attempting to translate the world of the Jurassic Park franchise into LEGO game form. Obviously, the release is timed to coincide with the debut of the fourth movie in the franchise: Jurassic World.
The challenge facing Travelers Tales was immense: take the four Jurassic Park films and translate the events into a family friendly LEGO game that captures the spirit of the movies, uses the LEGO games tried and true formula and gameplay elements, and manages to tone down the violence and suspense of the source material. I mean, let’s face it, the Jurassic Park series is not the most ‘family friendly” movie franchise. So, have they succeeded? Sort of.
As, you may imagine, LEGO Jurassic World is based on all four of the Jurassic Park films (Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World). The movies are each broken into five main “story” chapters, which do a a fairly decent job of rehashing the plot of the movies. As, with all of the LEGO games, once you finish a level in story mode, you unlock the ability to go back and play it again in “free play” mode. The difference between these two modes is that in “story mode”, you are given a set cast of characters to play with, while in “free play mode”, you are given enough characters to unlock everything in the level requiring a special skill. Special skills in this game are: Academic – Solve equation puzzles written on whiteboards, Agility – Female characters can jump higher and use special blue and pink colored items, Bolt Cutters – Can slice through special chains and padlocks, Bone-Build – Paleontologist characters can build special bone piles, Buddy Boost – Characters can boost another character to a higher area using special pads, Camouflage – Players can disguise themselves to sneak past enemies and security systems, Climb – Certain characters can climb LEGO walls to reach new areas, Crowbar – characters can break into otherwise inaccessible areas, Dig – characters can dig in special piles to unearth objects, Droppings Rummage – it’s exactly what it sounds like. Characters dive into a pile of dinosaur poop to find important items and clues. Usually used to make a sick dinosaur well, Electric Charge – characters can use electric rods to charge up switches, Electric Rifle – used to activate electric switch targets, Glide – characters can jump and deploy a parachute to travel short distances, Grapple – characters can use special plugs to climb up or pull down objects, Grow Plant – can grow plants quickly in special spots, Hacker – Access special terminals, Illuminate – can access special “dark” areas, InGen Access – Can use security clearance panels, Jurassic World Access – similar to InGen access, uses a pad scanner to access special panels, Photography – uses designated photo spots, also uses flash to distract and stun dinosaurs, Repair – can fix broken objects, Rope/Vine Cutter – uses blades to slice through, Scanner – can interact with scanner panels to reveal objects, Scream – Female characters can break glass, See-Saw – two characters are used to bounce one over to a higher area, Sharpshoot – characters with ranged weapons can hit special targets, Small Access – smaller characters can access special hatches, Tracker – can follow object trails and footprints, T-Rex Scent – (ERIC KIRBY ONLY!) – Can toss jars that scare away Compsognathus packs).
One of the things that is most fun about “free play” in the other LEGO games is the HUGE cast of characters you normally have to choose from. And, that is where this game comes up on the short end. Due, by nature, to the nature of the property it is based on, you only have the casts of the four movies to work with. Even with all of the different variations of the main characters, and the addition of several random variation on InGen soldiers and ACU members…etc, you end up with a much smaller roster than we are used to in a LEGO game. To supplement that lack of characters, however, Travelers Tales has done something really cool. They let you play as the DINOSAURS! That’s right, in every level of story mode, there is an Amber Brick. If you collect this Amber Brick, you unlock one of the 20 Dinosaurs in the game. Each of them has an ability which can be used in certain situations (ie: the Compy can enter small hatches and tubes, The Triceratops can knock down special barriers, The T-Rex can stomp special breakable spots…etc.). This does add some variety to the gameplay, but one of the biggest problems with this game lies with the property it is based on.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of items to collect to keep this game going. There are over 200 Gold Bricks, plus red bricks and the aforementioned Amber Bricks, but the desire to get them all is not as strong is it has been with LEGO games in the past. Why? Because the way I feel about this game is the same way I feel about the movies. I LOVE the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World parts of the game, but I have NO USE for the other two parts. The Lost World part is, at least tolerable, but the Jurassic Park III part kind of makes me glad I never saw the movie, cause the story is ridiculous. I will say that I am impressed that Travelers Tales was able to make five fairly decent levels out of the story, but it does not change that fact that the story itself is pretty bad. And, normally, it would not be so bad to have that kind of disparity in enjoyment, but the whole reason they put all of those different collectibles in the game, heck the whole reason there is a “free play” mode, is to extend the replay value by having you go through the entire game again to get everything. In LEGO Batman 3, I gleefully redid every stage and played all of the DLC levels twice to get everything. I did every ground race and mission on the Lantern planets, beat all 15 story levels twice, got everything in all the hubs and has a tremendous sense of pride when my screen progress indicator read 100%. With this game, I am elated at the prospect of playing the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World levels again. I am less enthusiastic about playing The Lost World levels again. And, I am downright dreading slogging through the Jurassic Park III levels again.
I just want to outright state that I do not, in any way think that this is Travelers Tales’ or Warner Bros. Interactive’s fault. They did the best they could with what they had to work with. The game looks beautiful, the jungle looks lush, the dinosaurs look amazing. The environments are incredible, and the care to detail is astonishing. Controls are tight and if you have ever played a LEGO game before, you will feel right at home. To their credit, Travelers Tales mixes up the straight platforming with a few chase sequences, which are fun, if formulaic. In these sequences, you are being chased by a dinosaur as you travel towards the screen, sometimes in a vehicle, sometimes on foot. These are fast paced, often harrowing sequences and they are a lot of fun. They are placed in at just the right time to break up the somewhat monotonous platforming. The”boss” fights in the game are also well done, offering enough variety to keep things fresh. Very often, during some of these fights, you will take control of a dinosaur for a quick time button pressing sequence. This again is a cool mechanic that does not feel overused. One of the most unique aspects of this game is the sound. Aside, of course from the familiar Jurassic Park themes that we all know and live, this game has taken a very novels approach with its voice actors: THERE AREN’T ANY. Instead, they have chosen to use actual dialogue samples from THE ORIGINAL FILMS! This unintentionally creates some humor, as the dialogue for Jurassic Park, The Lost World and Jurassic Park III, can CLEARLY be recognized as coming from an “older” recording, whereas the dialogue from Jurassic World sounds smoother and more polished. I will say however, it does add to the authenticity of this series to have all the dialogue voiced by the original actors.
So, here’s the verdict in the end. If you are a LEGO games fanatic, or a Jurassic Park fanatic, and you have every other LEGO game, or every piece of Jurassic Park merchandise: BUY THIS. If you are fan of LEGO games, and want to play the latest one, or you have just seen Jurassic World and want to put yourself back into that world: RENT THIS. If you are just a passing LEGO games fan, and you expect every offering to a masterpiece like LEGO Batman 3 or you have little or no interest in the Jurassic Park franchise: SKIP THIS.
Next up from Travelers Tales is LEGO Dimensions and LEGO Marvel’s Avengers this Fall.
Agree with me? Disagree with me? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know