Video Games Review: Lego Jurassic World (PS4, 2015)

To say TT Games’ ever-expanding stable of Lego-branded video games has been successful is to undersell just how wildly popular their games have been and continue to be. Their stubborn inclusion of couch co-op coupled with clever leveraging of beloved film properties have created a new kind of movie tie-in game. Lego Jurassic World continues this trend, roping in content from all four Jurassic Park movies with a few new gameplay mechanics to fit.

I feel like I should preface this review by putting my undying love for Jurassic Park on front street. I saw it in the theatre with my dad on its opening weekend in 1993. I read the novels, the comics, I collected the toys, the video games, stickers, I’ve bought it no less than four times on various home video formats and I still have my vintage Topps trading cards somewhere. This game (in spite of my indifference to The Lost World and loathing for Jurassic Park 3) was always going to give me the warm and fuzzies. The Lego games are renowned for their ability to recreate specific sets and shots from films they’re based on and Lego Jurassic World is no exception. From the jump, you are given access to either the Jurassic Park or the Jurassic World campaign. For this reviewer (and everyone he lives with) there was never any doubt as to which of the two we were going to play first. Right away we are treated to the Lego-ified Raptor pen sequence that opened the original movie, complete with music cues and dialogue lifted from the soundtrack (“Shoot her! Shooooot heeeeer!”).

There are nods and homages littered all throughout the Jurassic Park> campaign that will make fans wriggle happily in their seats. The Brachiosaurus in the paddock scene is recreated in faithful detail, but then it lets you run around in that one picturesque shot of the dinosaurs moving through a lake in the distance. Magic. A similar level of detail is applied to the remaining three campaigns and, to TT Games’ credit, playing their Lego-fication of the woeful Jurassic Park 3 is far more enjoyable than actually watching the film it’s based on.

TT Games are continuing their more recent trend of including voice clips taken directly from the films but not all of the voices from the original films are represented. Some, such as the character of Dennis Nedry (originally played by Wayne Knight) are revoiced which is a small thing but die-hard fans will pick these differences out immediately. Thankfully, the vast majority of the original voices are in place, particularly in the Jurassic World/i> campaign. Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio and even Jimmy Fallon have all recorded new dialogue in addition to lines taken from the film’s soundtrack. There’s actually surprising amount of chatter in this latest entry in the series – NPC’s now cheerily prod the player in the right direction, making it easier to navigate the game’s many puzzles.

Not that those puzzles are particularly taxing. Life, as the quote goes, finds a way. And so will you. They’re pretty easy. This is, when you get right down to it, a title for younger gamers. That said, it feels like TT Games have worked hard to further alleviate problems surrounding puzzles that have plagued the Lego games for years. Previously, it was common to get stuck simply because it wasn’t clear what you were supposed to do next. Having the NPC’s point you in the right direction from time to time makes that problem all but go away and it’s a welcome change.

Gameplay itself follows much the same formula as every other entry in the Lego series – move through the level, smash all the things, collect all the studs and gold bricks, work together to solve a few puzzles, collect your earnings, repeat. It’s a solid game loop, kept a bit more lively by the introduction of a few new puzzle types. This time around, in keeping with the game’s theme, you are periodically given free reign to play as a dinosaur. I don’t care how old you are, this aspect of the game is a hoot. Charging around as a triceratops or a stegosaurus is its own reward.

In terms of game length, this felt like one of the shorter Lego entries I’ve ever played, especially compared the gigantic Lego Batman 3</i>. Each movie is broken down into five levels and with the many tweaks to allow more fluid play, it feels like you breeze through them quite quickly (though it will, of course, take completionists quite a while to 100% the game).

Lego games don’t tend to push the boundaries with each new release. Rather, they prefer gradual iteration, slowly but surely honing their various mechanics and ironing out the troublesome ones. In service of this unspoken mission statement, Lego Jurassic World is easily the most refined and polished Lego game to date. At this point, there really isn’t much else that TT Games can improve upon. And that’s a worry, because once they run out of things to iterate the collect-em-up lustre associated with these games may begin to dim a little. Now that TT Games have the formula they created well and truly on lock, it might be time to start experimenting. The radically different settings are nice but we want puzzles we haven’t seen before. Ways to interact with Lego in a digital sphere that we haven’t seen in one of your games before.

See you all in November for Lego Marvel’s The Avengers.

Review Score: 7.5 out of 10
Highlights: Awesome couch co-op;  Playable dinosaurs!
Lowlights: Formula needs a shake-up; Shorter than most titles in the series
Developer: TT Games
Publisher: WB Games
Released: June 12, 2015
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Reviewed on PlayStation 4.