Lego Jurassic World was my first foray back to the Lego games franchise since Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7. Recent offerings have put me off of the games, but the lure of my favorite ever movie being given the Lego treatment was just too strong. I was incredibly hopeful I would enjoy it.
We’re big fans of the Lego games in our house, or at least we were in the early days. Recent releases like Lego Lord of The Rings became less and less enjoyable to both my husband and myself because of how busy they had become. On the original Lego Star Wars, I could complete a level, blast my way around Mos Eisley for a few extra studs, and switch off feeling I’d accomplished something, all within half an hour or so. When we bought Lego Lord of The Rings, half an hour was barely long enough to even find the next level, let alone get any significant way through it. If I want to play for hours in a complex open world environment completing side-quests and uncovering more tasks to do than those I actually finish, I’m going to turn on Skyrim or at least something with significantly less blocky graphics. There’s an entire genre of games like these where you can become so enveloped in your character and their world that you look up and realize it has somehow gone from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. I love those games, but I’m not going to turn to Lego for that experience and it wasn’t what I wanted from Lego Jurassic World. Thankfully, it wasn’t what I got.
Lego Jurassic World follows the same formula as all the previous Lego games, so if you have played any of the 14 or so games released in various franchises over the last 10 years since Lego Star Wars in 2005, you know what to expect. Run through levels based on iconic scenes from the film, smashing up everything in sight, and using Lego pieces to build the items you need to progress further and unlock bonus features. The game begins with the opening scene from Jurassic Park (the raptor unloading at Isla Nublar) then jumps to Montana where we meet Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler. Once that first level is cleared and our initial group make their way to the island, we reach a helipad and can choose to either go left and continue into Jurassic Park, or right and begin our trek through Jurassic World. The second and third movies (Jurassic Park: The Lost World and Jurassic Park III, which were both set on Isla Sorna, are only unlocked after completion of Jurassic Park.
I have to admit I was curious how Lego would handle a franchise like Jurassic Park, which is heavily based on scares and—let’s be honest—dinosaurs eating people. The very opening scene of the first movie features a man being dragged off and eaten by Velociraptor. How exactly do you make that kid-safe and Lego-friendly? The answer, apparently, is with hot dogs! The usual zany brand of Lego fun has been injected into these more violent scenes to make them funny rather than scary. The Velociraptor steals Jophery’s hot dog rather than dragging him into the pen, while the rest of the loading team poke it furiously with brooms and a banana. Oh, and just you wait til you find out what really happened to Donald Gennaro after he was eaten on the toilet!
All that being said, this was the first Lego game I have experienced to employ jump scares—one of which was enough to make my horror-movie-loving heart stop for a second. The game is rated PEGI 7, but when I was playing with a child, I found them often choosing to sit right next to me during the scary bits. You can Lego-ify that T-Rex all you want, but when it roars, it’s still pretty darn terrifying to a kid. However, as we have recently discussed here on GeekMom, scaring your kids a little can definitely be a good thing. I found myself playing ahead in my own game to figure out where the jump scares were so I could warn my nephew ahead of him reaching them, which worked for controlling the fear factor to a manageable level.
One of my biggest fears prior to playing Lego Jurassic World was how the game would fare in terms of character abilities. The more recent Lego games have featured superheroes and characters capable of using magic. How would this game maintain interest in a group of entirely average humans? Of course one of the most publicized features of the game is the ability to play as dinosaurs, which is a whole lot of fun, but not always the most practical approach! The game has really thought hard about its human characters too and the abilities assigned to each of them are well thought out, both in terms of what they bring to the game and how they fit with that character. Alan can build dinosaur bones, Ellie can dive into steaming piles of dung to find useful objects, Ian can solve chaotic equations on whiteboards, and Timmy can don his night vision goggles to see his way around dark locations. As in previous games, these abilities are shared across multiple characters, but they always feel thematically appropriate—Ian can also see in dark places using a flare and Zach (the teenager from Jurassic World) can too using the torch he crafted in the film. The girls get some fantastic tech skills as well. Lex can use early 90s-style computer terminals (the Lego version of a UNIX system is a whole lot of fun), while Claire can use her phone to access Jurassic World‘s WiFi network. Even the dinosaurs have special skills. Larger dinos like Triceratops can use brute force to smash down rocks, and little Compsognathus can scurry around in vents the way Scabbers did in Lego Harry Potter. All of the characters feel useful with no pointless additions making up numbers. Even Mr. D.N.A. shows up as your helper.
Speaking of characters, another little detail I loved was the dialogue between the random NPCs in the scenes. I found myself cracking up over their lines on a regular basis and sharing lines with friends while I was playing.
There were actually many features I really loved about the game. Studs seem to linger a little bit longer than in previous games, giving you more time to collect them all when they’ve exploded over a wide area. The characters also seem to build faster by default. The maps are a wonderful feature, which allow for faster, simpler navigation over the two rather large islands and allow you to keep track of exactly where you are. One of the issues with a game based on something like the Jurassic Park franchise is the lack of iconic locations. A lot of the game is based in nondescript jungle like terrain, so at times like this, the map is really worth its weight in gold. There’s even a little mini game that you can play during the credits of each movie that while not at all difficult, will easily earn you an extra 100,000 studs or more.
However, all this good naturally comes with a cost. The game is (at the point of reviewing) riddled with bugs—many of which are level-breaking. Having played through 10 levels to date, I have been forced to restart two of them due to glitches which prevented me from completing, and dealt with countless other bugs as well including characters becoming suddenly and inexplicably immobile. Playing with a child, this becomes even more frustrating. At this point, all we can do is pray for a patch from the developer, which I hope won’t be too long in coming. Another issue with the game comes from the voice acting. Many lines of dialogue have been lifted verbatim from the original films. This gives them a slightly tinny, almost hissy sound, especially when they play close to new dialogue recorded for the game. There’s certainly no mistaking what’s old and what’s new; the sound quality is wildly different to the extent of jarring you out of play on occasion.
Despite the bugs, I’m loving Lego Jurassic Park—and my nephew is too, despite having never seen a Jurassic Park film. The game feels smaller in scope than some of the previous games, which is causing it to receive some negative press elsewhere, but I love it for precisely that reason. The levels are very long at around 45 minutes each (they are broken up into sections which can be saved, but when we tried to re-enter one the next day our progress had been lost), which is a slight downside, but this feels like a game I can actually complete to 100 percent at a reasonable pace.
In short, after careful consideration, I have decided to endorse this game. I’m now excited for the release of Lego Marvel’s Avengers later this year. I just hope they can do a better job of killing the bugs before its release.
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.