UPDATE, 2/1: The following story erroneously reports that "LEGO Indiana Jones" has four-player co-op. This error arose from a miscommunication about the game's features during an official demonstration that led to an inaccurate impression of the game. For more details, see this follow-up post. We regret the error.
I spent an hour this past Saturday exploring a room full of LEGOs, and getting a quick demo of "LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures."
The meeting was at the Times Square Westin hotel where my last game demo was a week-early marathon with "Halo 3." It was in a conference room where LEGO toys and LEGO statues stood (see some pictures below).
And amid all the toys, two LucasArts producers has a level to show in the LEGO "Indy" game. So I sat down to watch a yellow-headed LEGO Indy try to retrieve the idol and outrun a boulder. I was being shown the first scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," as re-done by developer Traveller's Tales.
But I couldn't just watch. I asked questions and learned about some other stuff too. Read on…
The game's hub area is Barnett College, the place where Dr. Jones teaches class. This area functions the way the "Attack Of The Clones" bar and the Mos Eisley cantina did in the two "LEGO Star Wars" games. The hub provides access to 18 levels, six for each of the first three Indy movies.
The opening "Raiders" level is called "Lost Temple of Hovitos." I was shown the level with Indiana Jones and his assistant, Satipo, as the playable characters. A LucasArts producer controlled the game, and switching back and forth between the two characters, while the XBox 360 he was demoing the game on took care of whichever one he wasn't controlling.
They showed me Indy avoiding alligators, jumping over a spiky floor, making a bad step and exploding into LEGO bits, retrieving the idol (which he tries replacing with a pink coffee mug), trying to outrun the famous boulder and getting caught outside the temple. Curiously, there was no "throw me the idol" moment -- but Indy did offer his enemies C3PO's head before handing over the idol they demanded. The LEGO series is still playing its source material for extra laughs.
The producers of the game told me that Indy's whip will be used as an important tool: it picks up items, it lets him swing across gaps. Characters in this game are more specialized than they were in the "Star Wars" games, they said. Satipo had a shovel, for example, that let him dig treasure. How diverse the characters' abilities will be, I'm not sure. I was told that in the game's Free Play mode, as in the "Star Wars" games, a player will be assigned enough characters to accomplish every main and hidden task in a mission.
I saw more adventure than combat in the one level they showed me. That seemed true to the movie but not exactly true to the "LEGO Star Wars" precedent. The producers said that, overall, the LEGO Indy game does have more of an adventure style than the "Star Wars" games but that there will be plenty of fighting, say, in the bar scene that apparently they're also using from "Raiders."
Some other things I picked up:
- I learned that even though the game's puzzles will never be designed for more than two characters that, on the console versions, up to four players will be able to run through levels together.
- I was told that the Wii game will have motion-triggered bull-whipping. When I asked if it would function the same as the lightsaber-swinging did in the Wii version of "LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga or if it would offer 1:1 remote-to-whip synchronized control, the producers said to expect something akin to the "Star Wars" interface.
- The console versions of the "Indy" game are being made by the same team at Traveller's Tales that did the "Star Wars" games; it's a different team that's doing "LEGO Batman."
- I was told not to worry about reports that the Nazis have been removed form the LEGO version of the trilogy. The plot will stay intact; the bad guys just won't wear swastikas.
- I was only shown the Xbox 360 version of the game, but PC, PS2, PS3, and Wii versions are al slated for June 3, 2008. So are DS and PSP versions. I didn't learn much about them except that the DS stylus will handle whipping and that the microphone will be used for blowing up rafts (in a "Temple of Doom" scene, I presume) and blowing out torches. Oh, and you'll be able to control the "Raiders" monkey in the DS game.
- Lastly, they're saying that the game is only about the original trilogy. So no references to the new movie, even though it comes out a week after it? They're saying no.