LEGO Jurassic World Review
Ah, another LEGO game. Most gamers know what to expect from them by now, at least at the basic gameplay level. Everyone plays a game franchise for the first time at some point, though, so let's go through the basics for the benefit of the LEGO newbies out there. If you're a LEGO veteran, you can safely skip ahead a paragraph or two without missing out on anything LEGO Jurassic World specific.
The gameplay in LEGO games is best described as a hybrid of the platformer and brawler genres, although LEGO Jurassic World is a lot lighter on the fighting side of the equation than most other games in the series. The game is set in a world in which everything is made of LEGO, much of which can be smashed apart by your character. In fact, you're encouraged to do so, because breaking apart LEGO items releases the LEGO pips that serve as the game's currency to be spent on unlocking additional characters for play. You will also occasionally be called upon to actually build something out of LEGO rather than smashing everything to pieces, but this building activity is limited to special bricks that are assembled automatically by your character as you simply sit there and keep a button pressed down.
Making your way through the levels will require some light puzzle-solving skills. Some of these puzzles require two characters to work together, the second character being controlled either automatically by the game's AI or by a second player via drop-in/drop-out couch co-op play. Each character has a special ability or two that will come in handy as some puzzles can not be solved without the application of one of these abilities - for example, the ability to throw an object at a target, climb into small spaces, or hack away at dense brush with a raptor claw. Some puzzles won't be solvable on your first play-through on a level as the characters available to you will be restricted. However, you can revisit any level after completing it and when you do you'll have your entire roster of unlocked characters available to you. Previously inaccessible areas will become open to you with the right characters, which adds a degree of replay value to the game's levels as well as gives you the opportunity to collect more items if you're the kind of gamer who likes to shoot for a 100% completion level on a game. The gameplay's not too complicated and most of the puzzles are easy to solve, but it's all fun nonetheless. It's amusing to see familiar scenes and locations from a film rendered entirely in LEGO, and the game's tongue-in-cheek and slapstick humor add to the enjoyment.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can move on to LEGO Jurassic World. Although the game bears the same title as the latest movie in the series, the game covers all four films. There are twenty story-based levels in all, so if you do the math you'll see that you get five levels for each. There's just enough gameplay in each level to move you through the films, with quick cutscenes tying things together or succinctly filling in the gaps. Familiarity with the films will certainly help, both from the perspective of keeping track of what's going on from a narrative standpoint as well as for keeping up with the numerous parodies and in-jokes. To be honest, I remembered the first film far more than the second and third before playing the game, but the story levels were able to jog my memories of the two films that I've probably only seen once before. This leads to a point of consideration to those who aren't necessarily huge fans of the entire film series, that point being that half of the game's story missions are dedicated to what are arguably the much weaker entries in the series.
The focus on a series of films that featured small casts also makes the game feel like it was stretched to fit the model that the game series has been following in its last several iterations. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings games could draw upon a large cast of interesting characters from the books and films and had many distinct and iconic locations to recreate in LEGO. The Marvel and DC games enjoyed a bounty of heroes and their variants drawn from decades of comic book stories. Jurassic Park? Not so much. Instead you have an unlockable minifig roster populated with the likes of random dino handler #2, and for locations you have the park headquarters and tropical jungles. And while the game gives you things to do outside the story missions, traipsing down a jungle path simply can't compete with exploring Middle Earth.
One thing in LEGO Jurassic World's favor, though, is that it has something that the other LEGO games don't - dinosaurs. The game's developers were smart enough to not just use the dinosaurs as environmental atmosphere, but to give gamers the chance to actually play as a LEGO dinosaur. The story missions will have moments when you're given control of a dinosaur for a short while, turning each into another LEGO character in that it will have a special skill needed to get past the next little puzzle or obstacle. So you can become a triceratops to tromp around a small zone in a level acting as a battering ram to smash obstacles, but you can't decide that you're going to play through a level as, say, a velociraptor instead of Dr. Alan Grant. If you find a hidden piece of amber in a level, you'll unlock a dinosaur for use in free-play, but again the extent of the area you can play as a dinosaur is limited and so your havoc-raising potential will be severely limited. Fun? Sure, for a little while at least, but not as fun as it could have all been if they had really opened up the dinosaur play.
So overall you have a LEGO game that for the most part sticks to the formula, feels like it is really stretching its source material to fit the mold, and introduces a new gimmick that's fun, but not as much fun as it could have been. It delivers enough LEGO fun that if you're a fan of the series or the films you won't be disappointed, but otherwise you can simply and safely skip this entry in the long-running game series and wait to see what LEGO Marvel's Avengers will have to offer.
Final Rating: 72% - Short on character, but it has dinosaurs.