We've always expressed great enthusiasm about the TT-developed Lego games. The formula that they've chosen and adopted for almost a decade now has proved incredibly successful not matter what tie-in they've worked on: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter.
As with those movies, the games have incredible potential in drawing in a wide range of passionate audiences: gaming families, Lego lovers and movie fans.
After the recent success of Lego The Lord of the Rings and Lego The Hobbit (the latter launched when the second movie was released at the cinemas), TT has kept its eyes on the movie prize, and is creating a tie-in to the upcoming Jurassic World. Though, as with Dr. Jones, the studio is pulling from the entire franchise canon to build the game. Four movies, five levels a pop, and two massive hub areas based on the two iconic islands (San Diego's missing out).
Even if what we played - four brief sections sourced from the first two movies (levels from the fourth are being kept under wraps for now) - isn't innovative, it wet our appetite for the fuller thing.
Because if you are hoping for an innovative game, Lego Jurassic World may (in part) disappoint. With a formula that's now well-worn (if it ain't broke...), TT Games' new dinosaur-themed adventure inherits the gameplay mechanics of previous titles, and only trickles in some new tweaks - though admittedly they're dinosaur sized ones. You can control the once-extinct beasts, as well as combine different parts to form new super-dinos (our phrase) to play with in the Hub area, with the new animal incorporating the traits of its kind (A triceratops head will allow your creation to charge, for example.)
The controllable dinosaur count stands around twenty, and as the game mirrors the events of the movies, you can guess what you'll be controlling when. So come the triceratops sequence in the first movie that had Dr. Sattler studying its spore, once you've healed the creature in the game, you can then control her, using her size and powerful horns to open up new areas in the level.
Beside the exploration, where the player can scour every corner of the game to collect pieces of Lego and collectibles (in that case, we can collect some dinosaur bones, which will allow us to build skeletons of several prehistoric specimens), gameplay is all about solving some simple puzzles thanks to the individual skills of each character (for a total of 100 characters in all).
One of the best aspects to the Lego games is the fan service. During our hands-on we had the chance to relive the famous T-Rex sequence from Steven Spielberg's first movie, in which - mixed in with some semi-scripted sequences - we had to solve puzzles and then escape the fury of the immense creature. All obviously with the style and irreverent parody to which we're accustomed with Lego titles. Take the T-Rex devouring lawyer Donald Gennaro; here Gennaro can't help but polish the creature's teeth with a toothbrush as he's grabbed.
Narrative-wise, Lego Jurassic World works through all four movies in chronological order, finishing with the new movie that's set to release this summer. While the idea of reliving 1993's movie fascinates and excites us, we're not as convinced that the two sequels (The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3) will offer quite the same number of memorable moments. We tried a brief sequence from Lost World as we had to hop across village rooftops to avoid a raptor attack, but it was simplistic and the the minor QTEs to fend off the carnivores didn't excite as much as we'd hoped.
Although it isn't any miracle in terms of innovation, the new Lego Jurassic World intrigued us. The choice to take advantage of the dinosaurs as (semi)playable characters is really interesting and it makes the experience much more enjoyable.
We can't wait to go a bit deeper in the game and find out if, along with the well-established and successful formula, Lego Jurassic World has something more to offer.