In what is now becoming a well-oiled new release machine, Traveller's Tales recently unleashed their latest installment in the LEGO series - LEGO: Jurassic World; which spans all four movies and adds a couple of new mechanics to the tried and tested formula in an effort to bring this beloved franchise to life in brick form.
The game begins with players choosing to start their adventure in Jurassic World or the original Jurassic Park, a nice touch given that the player base will be split between the nostalgic player and those who are new to the series. Being in the former camp, we headed straight for the classic films and were immediately struck by the number of improvements that have been made compared to previous LEGO titles.
The most striking change is the sound. Jurassic Park's iconic musical themes lend a sense of adventure throughout and the scripts seem to have been fleshed out considerably. Background characters merrily chatter away amongst themselves, commenting on what the main characters are doing or generally having some fun at your expense. This adds a real sense of life to the levels and features some hilarious comments and one liners that will have you laughing out loud. With so many improvements to the sound it is strange that some of the main characters' voice acting sounds like it has been recorded in a tin box. Out of nowhere, voices sound echoey and distant in a jarring way that distracts from the dialog and makes the game feel unpolished. This is a shame as graphically Jurassic World is a big improvement on its predecessors, boasting crisp clean graphics and a pleasing art style. Visually, everything seems to have a sharper edge and LEGO items blend more naturally with the realistic art than they ever have before.
There's nothing like a LEGO game to remind you how few distinct characters there are in a movie series. LEGO Jurassic World really suffers from this as there are only a handful of characters available and some of them are a real stretch to get excited about, relying on multiple outfits for the same character to make it look like the same number of options are available as were in previous games. Vehicles are equally uninteresting to all but the most obsessive Jurassic Park fan, as the selection largely consists of various jeeps. Unsurprisingly then, the dinosaurs are the most interesting unlockable, with 20 playable dinos to unlock across the game's levels including the cunning Velociraptors, who steal the show with their excellent controls and hilarious characters. Dinosaurs can be summoned at specific spots throughout the world to assist with puzzle solving, or even spliced together to create your own unique creatures.
Each level plays through a key moment from the films, rendered in classic slapstick LEGO style with all signs of gore and death removed and replaced by comedy set pieces, acted out by the hilarious supporting cast. Even the pigs that park attendants attempt to feed to the various dinosaurs will find a cunning way to hang on to their lives. It's all very sweet and family friendly and it's delivered in a way that doesn't detract from the source material. However, the gameplay itself is some of the most repetitive there has been in a LEGO title to date. In each movie there will be a sick dinosaur to heal by collecting items, a dino chase scene, some tracks to follow and the usual smashing and building puzzles. As always, characters have different abilities which make some areas inaccessible until "free play" mode is unlocked. Females screaming to smash glass objects makes an unwelcome return, as does their increased agility. There are characters who can dive into dinosaur dung to retrieve items and those who have the ability to track objects. The game also does more hand holding than ever before with these abilities. There isn't a lot of back tracking and if you aren't using the right character to solve a puzzle, the correct one will eagerly bounce up and down and wriggle about like the know-it-all in class, desperate to get the teacher's attention.
The world is large and easier to navigate than ever before. Players can jump directly to specific areas using the in-game map and there is ample transport in the form of monorails, dinosaurs and jeeps dotted about each of the locations. Completionists will find LEGO: Jurassic World a huge and intricate game to explore and those who just want to play through the story can get through it in under eight hours with ease, most likely having a good time doing so. It's a lot more limited than one would hope for however and with most of the playable dinosaurs also serving mostly as vehicles, it's missing the incentive to play for 100% unlocks. All the usual collectibles are present, from Red Bricks to Minikits (now represented by a box of bones to stay on theme) and there are a whopping 275 Gold Bricks to collect for those who are inclined to do so.
LEGO: Jurassic World is a good family title that has lots to offer, especially for fans of the movies who will be able to play through key scenes from all four films as main characters or dinosaurs. The classic moments of the franchise are delivered in a family-friendly style which is both charming and funny and it's the first LEGO game to feel like it was truly built for this generation, boasting improved graphics and sound as well as a noticeable improvement in collision detection. The game suffers from a lack of truly unique and memorable characters in the source material, though and is one of the more repetitive LEGO titles as well, with limited mechanics popping up repeatedly and a noticeable lack of variety in the Jurassic Park side of the experience.