As if the release of Jurassic World wasn’t enough to get excited and giggly about, everyone’s favourite toy company has only gone and released their very own video game of it. Yet although it carries the name of the fourth instalment in the franchise, Lego Jurassic World will also let you play though the storylines of the first three films, and will thus please plenty of older fans as well as newer ones. It contains all the usual charm we’ve come to expect from Lego games, with its fun co-operative gameplay and large slice of humour, but it also has enough innovation under its belt to feel fresh no matter how many others you’ve played before.
Straight off, the game wastes no time dropping you straight into a Lego version of the world and sending you to Isla Nublar off the coast of Costa Rica. Rather than selecting the different levels from a hub, as has happened in some past games, they instead crop up as you make your way through the parks, thus giving Lego Jurassic World a more open world feel. Travelling between these levels, there are a few little puzzles to solve and Lego pieces – or studs – to collect, but more importantly this setup gives the game a grander and more expansive feel than you might otherwise expect.
Once you get into the levels, things will be familiar to anyone who has ever played a Lego game before. There’s a large roster of characters for you to play as, and each one has their own unique set of skills; Alan Grant, for example, can use his Velociraptor claw to cut down vines and other plants, while Ellie Sattler freely dives into piles of dinosaur poo to search for useful items (which, as anyone knows, is the best place to find them). There are more puzzles to solve and studs to collect, but given that the game is about dinosaurs, there are precious few enemies to fight until the introduction of the chicken-sized Compsognathus in The Lost World – and even they aren’t common.
To make up for the lack of combat (which is a simple button-bashing affair anyway) Lego Jurassic World introduces several new things into the mix. The most important of these are chase sequences, which see you careering down a set path weaving left and right, feverishly picking up studs as you avoid whatever dinosaur happens to be chasing you. There are precious few dinosaurs which don’t want a bite of you – we hear that human beings are rather tasty, so who can blame them – and these new segments pop up on a pretty regular basis. That is no bad thing, though; they’re good fun to play and inject some much needed pace into the game, as well as recreating some of the franchise’s best moments.
When you’re not running away from the dinosaurs, however, there are times when you’ll get to play as them, and this too is a refreshing change up. One of the most addictive parts of any Lego game has always been unlocking new characters from their extensive cast lists, but Jurassic Park simply doesn’t have as strong a list of supporting characters as franchises like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. Having access to the dinosaurs naturally solves that problem. It’s always a thrill when you get the chance to play as a Triceratops or Velociraptor, so while the human characters might be a bit of a snooze-fest, the dinosaurs have more than enough personality to make up for it.
Of course, if you want to unlock them all, you’ll have your work cut out for you. Lego Jurassic World contains literally oodles of bonus content to keep you going after its relatively short story mode is finished. You get the chance to play chase sequences from the perspective of the dinosaurs or replay story levels in “free play”, using whichever characters you want to discover new secrets. There are Lego minikits to be built, photographs to be taken, and bricks to be found which give access to new unlockables. All this extra content isn’t limited to the story levels either; both islands are open to free exploration, and you could easily while away a few hours just pootling around.
Where the game starts to let itself down a bit is its presentation. Okay, we know that it’s difficult to make a thing of beauty out of interlocking plastic bricks, but the non-Lego objects in the game – particularly the backgrounds – are less than impressive when inspected closely. It also doesn’t much help that the environments are almost all tropical, and thus quickly start to lose their impact. It’s doubtful that with a game this much fun you’ll spend much time looking at the backgrounds, especially when there are so many Lego objects to punch apart and put back together again, but it still feels like a little more effort could have gone into them.
The audio, on the other hand, is a bit more of a problem and much more likely to be noticed. The game borrows its dialogue straight out of the films, and there is a clear dip in quality when these lines get uttered, particularly in the first two instalments. This might not be so bad if it weren’t for the incidental dialogue recorded specially for the game, and which is so different in quality that they clash with one another. There were also occasional moments when the volume took a sudden hike for a single sentence, only to drop back down again for the next.
These minor complaints aside, however, Lego Jurassic World is magnificently good fun. It injects the franchise with its own comedic silliness – Velociraptors disguising themselves by wearing bananas on their heads, for example, or attacking people just to steal their hair – and yet still retains all the tension and awe that the films are renowned for. It’s not only the perfect game for younger kids to cut their teeth on, it’s an experience that anyone of any age will enjoy. With the inclusion of the drop-in/drop-out multiplayer for which the Lego games have become known, you can also help your kids play – or just shamelessly bust it out to play with a group of friends. All in all, this is the best Lego game for quite a while, and more than worth having a go at.