It's a big year for the LEGO games this year. With not one, not two, but three games on the horizon - including the incredibly ambitious Skylanders challenger LEGO Dimensions - the team up in Knutsford must be run off their feet - and buried under LEGO goodness. While LEGO Marvel's Avengers is coming later this year, the first game out the starting blocks is LEGO Jurassic World - a tie-in with the mega blockbuster film of the same name that takes you through a slightly more plasticy take on not just the most recent film, but Jurassic Park 1, 2 and 3.
Those who've played a LEGO game before will know what they're in for here - and those who haven't are in for a treat. A drop-in, drop-out brick building, baddie bashing, puzzle solving co-op adventure, the LEGO games are easy to pick up and play, and a heck of a lot of fun. Best enjoyed with a friend/other-half/child in tow, you'll have to work together as you make your way through a distinctly more cheerful, more slapstick version of the Jurassic films. Regular cutscenes along the way helping to keep the story going, and sprinkle in some of the traditional slapstick LEGO humour, with voices lifted directly from the film.
The game here is divided up per film, with each film getting its own "island" in the game world for you to explore. From a brick perfect recreation of Jurassic Park's Isla Nublar, through to an uncanny take on Jurassic World's fully blown theme park, complete with shops, monorail and giant shark eating dinosaur, all made out of LEGO, the attention to detail is something else. Making your way around the fully explorable, "open world" island on foot (or, in a nice touch, in one of the game's many two-person vehicles), your time will divided between exploring the island, hunting out the game's collectibles, and playing through the six or so story driven levels, each based on key events from the film in question. Taking you through the most memorable moments from the films, whether that's hiding from the T-rex under your crushed LEGO car (objects in the mirror are closer than they appear), or taking to the gyrospheres to explore the plains in Jurassic World, if there was a wow factor moment in the films, you can pretty much guarantee it's been turned into a level in the games.
Luckily, you don't need to be the world's biggest Jurassic Park fan to appreciate this game, and even if you haven't seen all the films (or in the case of kids, if they're too young to have seen the originals), you aren't likely to find yourself too out of your depth. While the cutscenes are short and snappy, and move the plot along at a heck of a pace (occasionally making it a bit tricky to really understand exactly what's going on), the story isn't overly complex - or overly important to the gameplay.
Whether you're in the levels or out of them, the emphasis in the LEGO games is on working together. As in the earlier games, each character has their own set of special abilities, that mean you'll need to either work with your co-op partner, or switch between characters to access new areas. So while Jurassic World's Owen Grady can dive into piles of dinosaur poo to find useful items, Jurassic Park's Dr Ian Malcom can crack open a flare to light dark areas, and Jurassic World's Lex Murphy (aka that-one-who-screams-a-lot) can, well, scream. And shatter glass. Oh, and she can hack computers too - just not by screaming.
Whether you're exploring the LEGO world, smashing up LEGO before rebuilding it into something a million times more useful, hunting out the game's many, many collectibles (there's over 250 gold bricks to collect, and 20 cheat code unlocking red bricks, amongst others), or even designing your own dinosaur by playing with its DNA (hey, it's true to the fiction), there's a lot to do in LEGO Jurassic World, and plenty of fun to be had. In that respect, it's pretty much the LEGO game we've come to know and love - but there's a bit of a problem with LEGO Jurassic World.
While previous LEGO games have had their glitches, LEGO Jurassic World has a few more weird glitches and issues than we're used to, some of which can lose you a fair amount of play time. Along with random crashes, in one area, we switched to playing as dinosaurs, but then couldn't change back, despite the next section requiring us to be a human character. We've had characters glitch and show up where they're clearly not meant to be, but perhaps most disappointingly, there are a few really weird bugs with the sound. Not only do the voice clips from the first film sound like they've been recorded with a Talkboy, but in the Jurassic World stages, whenever the Indominus Rex appears, the game's entire sound turns... weird. Cutting out, getting distorted and crackling, this presumably isn't so much a fancy sound effect as much as a pretty big glitch. And don't get us started on the "dynamic" split-screen mode. Originally introduced a few games ago, the dynamic split screen mode has your best interests in mind - if you stand close to your co-op buddy, you get to play in full screen, but if you move away, the screen will split at an angle, so all you have to do to find your buddy again is run towards the centre of the screen. Unfortunately, in practice, it's a lot more trouble than its worth, and has caused nothing but headaches since it was first introduced. In Jurassic World, it almost seems even more excitable than before (see below). Here's hoping that LEGO Dimensions ditches this.
Still, glitches aside, as a nice companion piece to the film, and a great little stop gap to help tide us over into LEGO Dimensions comes out, LEGO Jurassic World is still well worth picking up. With the same sense of humour, plenty of laugh out loud moments, and lots of co-op fun, this is a great game for anyone's collection.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo Wii U