I told myself I wasn’t going to review any more Lego games; after all, there weren’t any franchises left that I had been dying to see as playable Lego characters. Next minute, playable dinosaurs, movie-accurate worlds and a brand new Jurassic film made for an unmissable Lego game. It was impressive on launch day: so many of the customers were buying Lego for themselves, not just for our mini-gamers. The Jurassic series was a fixture in most of our childhoods, and I was worried the whole franchise may be dumbed down too much for the sake of child friendliness.
Before I review the narrative, it’s only fair I admit something: I didn’t watch Jurassic Park until I was a teenager because it was scary. Also, out of the other movies I watched two of them over the same week I played the game. I’m yet to see Jurassic World either: dinosaurs were never my thing; phew, ok now we’ve cleared the air. The game splits into four clear chapters, each following one movie; this has always worked in Lego and is still the most straightforward way to enjoy separate stories in a franchise. Traveller’s Tales has used experience from previous games to streamline the story mode: every important scene is there in all its bricky glory. Having to travel physically to the next geographical part of the narrative adds a new dimension to the first play; the excitement or trepidation carries over the story break until you’re ready to continue.
As with Hobbit and Indiana Jones becoming Lego games, there are parts of the story, that, while important, really aren’t family friendly. I’ll always say yes to a TT game, however, because they keep improving from the big things, down to the little details; in this case, the way they handled the gory parts of dinosaur dealings. A big point of the original film was leaving the island to its own devices, and TT went that little step further and gave a whole menagerie of the reptiles their personalities. The voiceover faded as we watched a scene more interesting than the films, and featuring the most dapper pterodactyl ever. Later, during what were bloody deaths in the films, TT covered with a different, humorous tactic each time. My nine-year-old and I played through the whole thing with surprising laughs, the cameo Lego pig, and the kind of creative approach I love from these guys.
The last game from TT was almost mechanically perfect; the few gripes were minimal compared to the improvements of each new game, and I didn’t expect many changes now. Lo and behold the aim during two player mode has been fixed: I no longer need to get one person to drop out to shoot something off the screen! When the first level required it, I slumped thinking there was no way TT had fixed my one technical issue thus far. I think the exact phrase was “Holy crap, they did it!” and my son, player two, who had been ready to drop out ‘whooped’ with me. High Five, Traveller’s Tales, this is proof that each new Lego title is a targeted improvement on the last and solid evidence they read my Lego rants too (just let me have this). The platform precision jumping was almost right in the last game, but now so long as you find the logically placed sweet spot, all the frustration of terrible aim is eliminated. We had a handful of randomly stuck figures that needed a punch to unstick, and a two player issue with a boss fight; both were overcome easily.
From the box art and promo video to the exclusive mini figures, Lego games have a recognizable aesthetic that they play so well over every release. There are details and personality filled bricks in every scene they produce, giving life to plastic characters and surroundings. As an example of TT’s presentation efforts, take the T-Rex scene from the first movie: the rain, mud, and towering carnivore exude depth and a tinge of dangerous reality. The dialogue is, in most cases, straight from the movies.In the later stories especially, the timing becomes more reactionary. For instance, a back and forth between characters will be triggered and tailored to an action or discovery, as opposed to a location being the trigger for a set of comments or conversation. This is furthering character development in Lego games, which has been a growing focus over several franchises. Much of the music and accompanying sound effects were from the films, whether organic or mood-setting, they were all on the same high as previous games.
Lego Jurassic World’s design felt like it was overall catering to an older audience; Spielberg cameos, the Jaws boat, and an unearthed OUTTA TIME number plate are evidence. The open world available after the story mode wasn’t as easy as some previous games, and to 100% each level took effort. Each level may have taken place on one of the two islands, but not one level felt like a duplicate of another. A variation of the chase mode and the ability to take over as one of the dinosaurs during a battle added an unknown quality to the next step. I laughed at Jimmy Fallon’s information offerings and Jeff Goldblum being perfect in Lego. At the same time, my son thought it was the greatest thing in the world that my character had quite literally to go poo diving for objects. The women could still all jump lithely, by default, but I wasn’t thrilled with the colour coding addition of pink/purple bricks for things female characters use. Do us a favour next time and just say “female” instead of “agile”; making the associated bricks hot pink ruined the cover story.
Without seeing all the films, I was able to enjoy Lego Jurassic World as an entire game instead of looking for the movie parallels. Knowing the full story and what ‘really’ happened didn’t change the experience for me at all, once again, what we have is a well-structured, incredibly entertaining game. The amount of kid-friendly games that don’t make you want to drink heavily or destroy anything that bears a resemblance to a portal is small. Luckily, Traveller’s Tales have the clever content you need and the gags your kids love. For the record, they also beautifully destroy one of the tensest moments with a Winged Unicow, you’ll know it when you see it. I had heaps of fun in both single player and co-op, and, as always, there are loads of hours left to go back and play unlocked levels and characters. Like I always say; if you aren’t into Lego games then it might not be your thing, but I have one more thing to add: raptors. On bikes.
DISCLAIMER: this game was supplied to us by the publisher, and reviewed on PS4 across 9 hours of gameplay.