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Retelling the stories from the original trilogy with all-new levels, Lego Indiana Jones 2 on 360 expands the franchise to include the latest Indy film - The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. With an improved graphic engine and some technical additions, this also features a series-first in the form of a powerful level editor. Now players can create new levels and content by manipulating Lego blocks as a character in a Little Big Planet-esque design system. With improved co-op and new levels, Lego Indiana Jones 2 for Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii and DS, is a true sequel and marks an impressive progression for the popular Lego series.
Covering the first three movies again, Lego Indiana Jones 2 could be mistaking for a pointless sequel - a rehash of the same content released a year ago. But Travellers Tales have done more than just remake their original game by including a ton of new content and making some impressive technical improvements that take the series into new territory.
One part of the new content is the addition of new levels from the controversial new film - The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. One aspect of the Lego games that makes up for any shortcomings in the source material (see Star Wars Episode One) is their humour and endearing design. This is just as apparent in these new levels and even if you hated the new film, Lego Indiana Jones 2 will still have you smiling and laughing through its campaign. The older films also have new levels and include some notable omissions from the original game, with recognisable characters making appearances and a new mine cart sequence that fixes a lot of the problems of the original game.
The biggest tweak of existing content has been done to the hub-worlds. These have now been expanded and made more interactive meaning you can now fly planes, parachute over the world, take camels for a ride and use the other vehicles scattered around. It now feels more like a proper playground than it did before and you can have a lot of fun just messing around in this area rather than using it as glorified menu system.
But the most rewarding part of the new game is the World Builder. This isn't just a dry level editor that many games on the PC used to ship with, this is more of a Little Big Planet style creator, using a character to create content on the fly. Using your Lego guy you can push the sides of the world outwards to expand the level and drop in lots of objects and Lego pieces to fill it up. In a neat touch you change character depending on what task you're performing in the editor. So for raising or lowering terrain you assume control of the alien spaceship from the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull film. Little touches like this still carry on the humour and wit of the main game into what could be quite a boring environment. Then, with a press of a button you can enter Play mode and try out what you've built, meaning that testing these levels or just having a mad amount of fun in co-op is easy to do.
As I'm someone who plays a lot of these games in co-op with my family, the new technical advances in this space are impressive and very welcome. Before you were constricted to just being on a single screen and confined to that space. Now you can split up and go your own ways with the screen splitting dynamically to follow both characters. Then, whenever the characters got within a certain distance, the screen would magically blend back together into one image. This worked so well and led to a much more satisfying experience that it's very hard to go back to the older Lego games now.
With such an impressive range of content, Lego Indiana Jones 2 is in no way just a rehash of the first game. It feels like a proper sequel with a large array of new levels, improved co-op mechanics and a fantastic level editor that should keep budding game designers busy for hours. This wonderful sequel is available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and DS, and for any fans of the Lego franchise it's an essential purchase.
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