June 22, 2015
LEGOs and dinosaurs: somehow it’s taken well over three decades for those two great childhood pastimes to join together in an interactive on-screen adventure. Life finds a way, however, and the two elements are together in a package that may not be the best LEGO-branded adventure, but one that still brings enough to entertain over the course of four fast-but-fun campaigns.Â The format of this puzzle-focused adventure is as old as dinosaurs — developer TT Games has used this formula more than 20 times since 2005â€™s LEGO Star Wars — but like the pre-historic creatures themselves, there’s still a ton of charm.
Anything in the world that’s made out of LEGO bricks that isn’t one of the 100-plus playable characters can be broken into studs to be spent on bonuses or rebuilt within the environment to progress further in the world. Anyone who’s uttered a line in a Jurassic Park movie can be unlocked eventually, from Ian Malcolm and that annoying kid at the raptor dig site to the dino-wrangling, motorbike-riding Owen Grady and, awesomely, Mr. DNA himself. Unlike most LEGO adventures where characters have distinct weapons or superpowers, LEGO Jurassic World‘s suite of skills are a little more subdued; paleontologists can dig, zoologists aren’t afraid to dive into piles of dino-dung, and hunters can set off targets from afar. It’s mostly well balanced, though it’s weird to see the meek husband-and-wife couple who funded Jurassic Park III’s expedition using a grappling hook and gymnastic moves. Also, why are the only characters with scream-based powers women? Thereâ€™s been plenty of screaming men in Jurassic Park films.
Another distinguishing feature is that LEGO Jurassic World leans far less on combat than most of the previous LEGO-licensed adventures, which makes sense: the movies are mostly about humans trying to avoid dinosaurs. That makes the few fights actually meaningful — whether it’s a throwdown between rival camps in Lost World or the brutal T-rex vs spinosaurus battle in Jurassic Park III, almost every fight has some dramatic flair… unless there are compys involved. Even though the diminutive dinos only appear in the third Jurassic Park film (Edit: oops, the second one too), the species is in every chapter of LEGO Jurassic World, and they never get any less frustrating. They’ll swarm in packs, immediately requiring your full attention due to their overpowered health-sapping skills, and their size and speed make them tough to hit. Sometimes there’s just one pack nearby, sometimes there’s two, and sometimes there’s an infinite supply that won’t stop attacking you until you cover up the source of the stream. Frankly, I would have just rather had a compy-free experience, since the species makes any stage it infects just a bit less enjoyable than the puzzle-solving, block-breaking norm.
LEGO Jurassic World is an all-inclusive series package, and each of the four movies is broken up into five lightning-fast stages that run two to three segments each. In the space of 30 minutes, I went from saving Lex and Tim to traversing a tree to reach a crashed jeep, to throwing flares in a T-rex’s mouth during a tense car chase. Any time I started to get antsy or annoyed about a certain story or set of characters, I knew something I enjoyed would be around the corner. Sure, the gymnastic escape scene at the end of Lost World might have been a bit disappointing, but I was just one level away from seeing Academy Award nominee William H. Macy in LEGO form!
Ironically, the enjoyment I had with the people and creatures of LEGO Jurassic World didn’t quite extend to the actual parks. Sure, the levels were mostly a joy, but the overworld is a bit of a mess, especially when I had to explore the islands to find the entrance to a new level. Another weird quirk; while you can play the original Jurassic Park and the newly released Jurassic World right from the start, The Lost World and Jurassic Park III can only be played after completion of the preceding movie’s adaption. Fast travel is also iffy, as most of the icons on the map automatically load objectives. Since I wanted to explore the area to find new stages, I’d have to scan each icon until I found the one connected to each section’s kiosk, which became so tedious that I’d usually just walk through the interconnected movie hubs to get to my destination. Much like a real theme park, you’ll have fun on the attractions but dread getting there.
What keeps the compy troubles and overworld woes from becoming too unbearable? That patented LEGO charm. For the first three movies, voice clips are used sparingly and sight gags help add some spice to what should be a line-by-line retellings. Instead of the cowardly investor getting eaten alive on a porta-potty, he stays in the T-Rex’s mouth for a few scenes, cleaning the creature’s chompers with a toilet brush. When dinosaurs need medical attention they require candy bars and ice pops instead of a tense scene of humans operating on puppets. Also, there’s a bit more story being told directly in Jurassic World, so be forewarned that many of the movie’s twists will be revealed along the way.