Mini-figure Jeff Goldblum? Yes, please!
You know you're in for an interesting game experience when the first thing the developers show you is a cartoon LEGO mini-figure version of a movie star literally diving into a pile of poop. It's also a reminder that LEGO games target mostly little kids, for whom this is probably the funniest thing on planet earth.
LEGO Jurassic World is the latest game from TT Fusion, the TT Games studio that made The LEGO Movie Video Game, and offers a condensed version of all four Jurassic Park movies. Because of the locked-down nature of the upcoming film, Jurassic World, we were shown demos sections from the first two films. The poop bit comes from the section where Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) investigates the "droppings" of a sick triceratops, which leads to a fetch quest to get items to restore the three-horned beast.
LEGO games follow a formula that is mostly the same; a series of simple puzzles that are solved by using each character's different abilities, which can be played cooperatively by two players. Finding collectibles in the levels opens up elements in the world hubs, and playing through each one gives you a cartoon recap of that particular film.
The second vignette we saw was the famous T-Rex water-cup scene. However, since everything had to be built to LEGO scale, instead of the water trembling, a pair of small clear cups fell off the dashboard. Though it followed the basic version of the scripted movie events, it ended with the T-Rex obsessively playing with the car, while LEGO versions of Sam Neil's paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant and Jeff Goldblum's mathematician Ian Malcolm had to figure out how to distract the T-Rex and rescue the kids.
This concluded with a gameplay chase sequence adapted from the movie. This section involved dodging hazards and the occasional attacks of the T-Rex, while firing flares from the back of a jeep to distract it. We were told that not only was it possible to play these sections over with different characters as per normal, but also to play them on the other side, as the dinosaurs doing the chasing. At the end, the T-Rex slammed into a giant tree branch, looking confused.
Jurassic World is a bit unlike most of the other franchises that have been tackled by the LEGO series, in that it has some genuine horror elements. Since the TT Games Lego games are meant to appeal to younger players, the developers had to figure out how to keep the carnivores from being too threatening. In order to keep them aggressive but approachable, they gave them dog animations and behaviors; this way they could be mildly threatening but also loveable.
I'm pleased to report that LEGO Jurassic World is the best looking game of the series yet, with lush environments made of a mix of realistic textures, effects, and LEGO bricks. We played the demo on the PS4, and the textures were especially crisp. Much like recent games in the series, play-tips are now shown as a physical marker on the map as strands of DNA. Better yet, some of the most exciting aspects of the game still remain unseen, including the ability to create your own dinosaurs for the hub areas by mixing and matching different dino parts.
LEGO Jurassic World will release this June for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC, and PlayStation Vita, and 3DS.