LEGO Jurassic World is a videogame 65 million years in the making, or, should I say, 65 million installments. Yes, it’s a few months after LEGO Batman 3 and thus once again time for a new LEGO release.
Of course, this one is more exciting than most, because it features dinosaurs eating people. (Listen, that’s been proven. By science.)
Despite the name, the game features all four films in the Jurassic Park franchise, with nearly every iconic moment and character represented. Never thought you’d see Lego minifigs of Jeff Goldblum, William H. Macy, BD Wong, Wayne Knight, Vince Vaughn, and Vincent D'Onofrio together in a game? You’d be wrong. Collect them all.
First - a caveat. Haven’t seen Jurassic World yet? Don’t play that portion of the game. As with the rest it features (surprisingly tinny-sounding) voice clips straight from the film and follows the plot almost exactly, including all the twists and turns and big dino-filled ending. You will spoil yourself completely if you start off with this one so if you’re one of the few people that didn’t go see it on opening weekend and plan to, hold off.
Fortunately TT Games allows you to choose your path, and by path I mean far superior film. After two tutorial episodes from Jurassic Park (the “shoot her!” raptor snafu and Grant and Sattler on the dig site before their jobs get terminated), Hammond whisks you away to Isla Nublar and you can choose which movie to start with - Park or World.
To unlock The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 you’ll have to beat Jurassic Park, which is hardly a nice present for anyone. Still, it opens up a new island (Isla Sorna) and all the stupidity that takes place there. I’d say that all of their iconic moments are represented here as well but besides “T-Rex San Diego attack!” and “Creepy Pteranodons in the mist!” the events of those films are as memorable as they've always been. Those gymnastics, however...
You’ve no doubt played a Lego game at this point and the basics remain - you can play alone or co-op with a friend and walk around busting up pieces of the environments into little Lego pieces, collecting Lego studs and putting together objects to help you progress. Since there are lots of dinosaurs chases there are lots of chase scenes as well, cinematic moments that see you running away from man-eating dinos. Although there’s never any real sense of danger the game may have the best (only?) jump scares in the Lego series, some genuinely nice moments where dinosaurs burst out at you during creepy, dark sequences.
The game has that usual Lego sense of humor during the cutscenes, which take iconic moments and make them silly, but it blatantly makes fun of the decisions characters make in the second and third installments. During the T-Rex attack in The Lost World when InGen’s cowboy-hatted Dr. Robert Burke runs from the safety of a cave because of a snake, the dinosaur looks at him in surprise, and turns back to the remaining survivors with a quizzical look, and they all shrug. At least the game is in on the joke about how lousy these movies are, but oddly the gameplay is almost as repetitive as the films themselves. There aren’t any real standout moments in these two portions of the game, and they repeat a lot of big moments from the first and fourth superior installments. Plus there’s the fact that the majority of them take place inside non-descript jungle environments. Lego Middle-Earth this is not.
In between levels is an open world experience that you traverse, and you can explore either island as you like. The park itself has secrets to unlock - chases and hidden characters and hidden gold and red blocks, lots of fun little activities to discover.
As with other Lego video games each character has their own specific powers, and you’ll need to swap between them (or rely on your friend in co-op) to figure out puzzles to finish each level. It’s a bit hard to get excited about these abilities when in previous games you’ve played as Marvel and DC superheroes and used both magic and the force, but they’re clever and tie into the films. Little Timmy can crawl into tight places and wear night-vision goggles for dark areas, for instance, while Ian Malcolm dons a flare and an open shirt. Ellie can dive right into brown, steaming, Lego-piece piles of dino poop.
Since this is the year 2015 the game also came with DLC right from day one that offers new characters and vehicles to purchase, but it’s the kind of stuff you’ll not miss if you don’t know about it. Of course, now you do.
10-12 hours will get you through the storyline and still leave you with more than half of the stuff to unlock. As always you’ll have to replay each level with the free play mode in order to find every secret, and each level also contains hidden amber blocks that contain dinosaur DNA. Bring those to the DNA Creator and you can make your own custom dinosaurs, which is amusing. My blue and red, rabbit-eared Dimetrodon didn’t look too happy at its creation, but that's the problem with playing God.
It's also the problem with a world that sees two or three Lego games released every year. TT Games seems so preoccupied with whether or not they could make this many Lego games that they didn't stop to think if they should.
LEGO Jurassic World is surely a fun game but it’s of a lesser scope than the last half dozen or so Lego games they’ve released, hardly the dino-sized adventure it promises. Plus, there's the fact that LEGO Dimensions will be hitting in a few short months with a much vaster scope, containing everything from The Simpsons to Doctor Who to Back to the Future.
Still, here there be dinosaurs, and sometimes that's just what you need.