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LEGO Indiana Jones
The Original Adventures (Xbox 360)

Rated: U

Story: You are Indiana Jones, famous archaeologist, explorer and teacher (part-time). You must travel the world in search of lost artifacts, defeating Nazis and getting told off by your dad along the way.

The game closely follows the events of the first three movies, re-creating everything from motorbikes to elephants in LEGO.

Gameplay: This is an adventure with a heavy emphasis on platform jumping and combat. Two players (or one player and the computer) must work together, guiding LEGO versions of characters from the movies through the levels, clobbering enemies and solving puzzles. Different characters have different special abilities - Indy has his whip to swing across gaps, ladies can jump higher, small characters can get through hatches, that kind of thing. There are also tools like spanners and shovels that any character can pick up.

Although there's plenty of fighting, this is little LEGO figures having a scrap that we're talking about. Hit someone with a shovel or blow them up with a bazooka and they simply fall apart into a forlorn pile of plastic pieces.

Every level has hidden objects to discover that can be used to unlock bonus levels and secret options. Uncovering all of these requires replaying the levels at least once with different characters. There's also treasure littered everywhere that can pay for extra bits and bobs.

Save System: The game only saves in between levels but, on a first attempt, some levels can take three-quarters of an hour to play through. This is hugely inconvenient. It means there's no option of a quick game before school or anything similar. My 360 has had to be left on over a number of meal-times, simply because the food was ready but my boys were stuck near the end of a level.

Comments: This game comes into its own when played with two players. Alone, it was fun but felt a little basic. My computer-controlled buddy tended to stand around while I got pulverised by the bad guys; puzzles required some tedious swapping backwards and forwards between the two on-screen characters. All this disappears with a second player and LEGO Indiana Jones turns into an entertaining lesson in co-operation.

I started my two boys (aged 6 and 8) playing it and they almost instantly began shouting conflicting instructions at each other. I told them off. Then, later, when I teamed up with one of them, I couldn't help doing it myself. 'No, the other way!... Shoot them!... Not me! Them!... Hey! Where are you going? Look out for the... Oops...' It really was a case of learning to work together.

The second player can drop in and out of the game at any time. This is a fantastic feature and allows a busy adult to just join in for the tricky bits or to slip away quietly if the phone rings.

Completing the game 100% involves some skill but the game is designed so that even novice gamers can muddle through. There's no way to die. If a character gets hit too many times, then they fall apart for a few seconds and drop some of their treasure. Often, most of the treasure can be picked up again. The main hold up is figuring out the puzzles. It's possible to not notice missile targets and smashable objects while being swamped by waves of enemy soldiers, leading to occasional frustration over what to do to open the next door or to defeat a boss. The solution is never far away, however, and the secret is almost always to hunt around carefully for something useful.

Children who can't read fluently will need extra supervision early on since hints and clues are given in fairly small text at the bottom of the screen.

The story is presented using scenes from the movie re-done with the LEGO characters from the game and without dialogue. These are excellent and somehow manage to pay homage to the films while poking fun at them. Unfortunately, there's little chance of anyone who hasn't seen the films being able to follow what's going on. This is an issue for children who are too young to watch the movies. (They're a bit scary in places!) It's not a major problem, though, since they'd probably only spend the whole film going, 'Who's that?', 'What's going on?' and 'Where are they now?' anyway.

There are a few minor niggles with the game: The perspective makes some jumps difficult to gauge, certain areas are a little too dark compared to the rest and most of the 60 playable characters are totally forgettable. That said, compared with most other movie tie-ins aimed at children, these are laughably inconsequential points. On the 360, LEGO Indiana Jones stands beside LEGO Star Wars, head and shoulders above the competition. On the Wii, there are more options for kids but the full co-operative play is still close to unique.

If your offspring play computer games or you're thinking of getting them started, this is an essential purchase.

Conclusion: A good game that becomes a great game when played with your children.

Graphics: From a technical point of view, the graphics are crisp and clear but their true strength lies in the way they capture both the spirit of LEGO and the Indiana Jones films.

Length: Medium.

Rating: 4/5.

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