In case you've been living under a rock or have been crystallized in amber for millions of years, a new film in the Jurassic Park series has been unleashed into the world. As has been the case with so many film franchises before it, this release also brings along with it a LEGO video game adaptation. Welcome to the 3DS version of LEGO Jurassic World.
If there's one thing that LEGO Jurassic World does correctly, it's the fact that it perfectly emulates almost every LEGO game before it. As a quick overview for newcomers to the series, what you have here is a game that combines button-mashing combat, platforming and puzzle solving to create a repetitive, albeit charming, action adventure title based on one of the most influential film series of all time. This may appeal to the aforementioned newcomers and hardcore Jurassic Park fans, but the truth is that these games are in desperate need of a refresh.
Right from the beginning you can select to either play through stages from the original Jurassic Park film or from the newly released Jurassic World. Campaigns based on the two intermediate films - The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III - are unlocked as you progress through the other two, because apparently brand recognition outweighs continuity when creating a game that is obviously a cash-in. Stages are unlocked linearly while extra elements, such as the other two campaigns, become available when in-stage tasks are completed and gold bricks are collected.
The shtick that the LEGO franchise games have stuck with is that playing through interactive versions of scenes from your favourite films is fun, but this element isn't fully realized here. Because each film is condensed into a certain number of stages, large portions of the plots are left out in order to make room for more action. What we're left with is a mash up of interactive scenes that are loosely strung together by cinematic sequences that don't fully explain what is going on around you. The usual charm and humour is present with sight gags aplenty, but most of the jokes fall flat in juxtaposition to the otherwise serious nature of the source material. Players with a deeper familiarity with the films should feel comfortable, but outsiders may feel left in the dark.
The action mostly consists of running around the environment, beating up baddies and collecting items to solve puzzles, but, as mentioned above, it doesn't take long for the gameplay to become repetitive. Combat and platforming lacks depth and consists of little more than tapping the Y button to KO your foes and B button to jump out of harm's way. Puzzles are solved using character-specific abilities, but beyond selecting the correct mini-figure to play as the puzzles pose little to no challenge. It can be argued that the LEGO games are geared towards younger gamers and boast an easy point of entry, but the low difficulty makes the whole experience all the less entertaining and rewarding.
Each new LEGO title introduces new gameplay elements to coincide with the property being taken on, and Jurassic World is no exception. The gimmick seen here is the admittedly awesome opportunity to play through some stages as a variety of dinosaurs. Stomping and charging through the environments as a triceratops is satisfying, but it doesn't actually add anything that enhances the gameplay. Having a unique gameplay element like this is fun, but it doesn't do enough to save the overall mechanics from feeling stale.
As tiresome as the gameplay may be, the absolute worst part about LEGO Jurassic World is the presentation. Gameplay features lush, explorable three-dimensional environments, but making any use of the handheld's 3D effect ruins the entire experience. Jagged lines make themselves present, the once smooth visuals deteriorate, and the frame rate drops just enough to make you feel like you're playing at a slower speed. It's a disappointingly ugly experience.
Not only are the visuals a disappointment, but the audio is some of the worst that we've heard. The voice acting in cinematic sequences all seems to be ripped directly from the films, which would seemingly be a good thing, but it's all so compressed that it's barely audible. The game's volume is also at such a low level that the console's volume slider has to be almost all the way up for it to even be heard. We're sure that Jimmy Fallon's quips that flood the game's hub are hilarious, but we could barely make most of them out.
Much like its Wii U counterpart, LEGO Jurassic World for the 3DS has a lot of potential, especially when considering the source material, but fails to deliver on almost every front. The gameplay is stale, the presentation is shoddy, and the entire experience feels like it was rushed together to coincide with the film's release. There are some positives here, such as being able to play as a variety of prehistoric reptiles, but they're so few and far between that they barely help hold the game together. It's clear that the developers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should, but it's pretty obvious that this one should have been left extinct.