Wot I Think: Lego Jurassic World

The prolific TT Games have a new Lego game just in time for the new Jurassic World movie. Covering all four Jurassic Park movies and featuring an awful lot of stompy dinos, how does Lego Jurassic World one fare in their ever-growing catalogue? Here’s wot I think:

Before we begin, a quick tangential issue. Warner with their Lego series just don’t appear to care very much about PC. Still, in mid-2015, they’re putting out games that can’t cope with Windows 7’s colour scheme, causing it to flicker and switch down to Basic. The sheer utter lack of care that makes that a persistent problem across every Lego game they release, let alone the lack of a windowed mode, or the refusal to adapt menu screens to work with a mouse, shows a level of contempt that’s ever-more tiresome. This is mirrored in the peculiar amount of effort dedicated to refusing to send us review code, then telling us it was in the post before later admitting it never was. And this is pretty much the case with every game in the franchise.

And yet again, they’re doing this with a game we’ve enjoyed! While Lego Jurassic World is not one of the strongest entries in the franchise, it’s an entertaining, family friendly celebration of the dinosaur romps, and about five hundred million times more entertaining than the appalling Jurassic World movie.

So, everyone knows the score by now, right? This time it’s all four Jurassic Park movies, recreated in Lego and gently spoofed, each famous scene reimagined as an exploratory platform game. And, as with every game in the series, you play as either one or two player, controlling as many as five or six characters in any level, each with different skills and tools.

What’s perhaps most striking about LJW is that it’s the most vanilla the series has been for a long while. There’s no big twist here, other than the four hub worlds (islands) being much more like a large sprawling level of their own. To move from level to level, you must complete a section of each movie’s hub. Once a movie’s story is complete, the hub (as well as all the levels, as usual) becomes accessible in “Free Play”, meaning you can re-explore it with any of the hundred or so characters you’ve unlocked.

And this time out, those characters include dinosaurs! Hurrah! There is much fun to be hand stomping about levels as a raptor, or baby T-Rex, etc, completing tasks only big lizards can do. You’ll also occasionally play as dinos in the levels themselves, usually in rather boring quick-time-event-laden fight scenes.

It’s a rather shorter game than we’re used to from TT Games. Although bearing in mind that they’re usually dauntingly enormous, this may be an attractive element to some. You’ll plough through most of the movies’ stories within two or three hours each, before Free Play. The Lost World feels especially spare, and obviously Jurassic Park III gave them a lot less to work with. Rather than imagine elaborate levels themed on scenes, this game feels far more like chugging through the scene chronologically, before being spat out the other end with little sense of narrative flow.

That’s less the case for the Jurassic World section, which has a more complex hub, and slightly more imaginative levels. I suspect that’s partly because of an emphasis due to the tie-in release with the film, and partly because the film is quite so bloody awful that they had to work harder to make anything kid-friendly out of it. (I can only imagine the chewed knuckles at TT when they were shown the early screening of the movie they needed to convert.)

The story is essentially ignored, adding in pet baby dinosaurs, and making it much more fun for kids than the dreary gore-fest that hit the screens.

It is, however, the buggiest Lego game I’ve seen. Usually flawless, or perhaps with just a couple of issues with characters getting stuck on scenery, this time I’ve frequently found the character I’m controlling falling through the floor and eternally plunging below the world, or leaping up into the stratosphere of the skybox. On occasions this has meant having to start levels over again, which is a mighty pain. I’ve also had it crash to desktop.

It’s also very peculiar how they’ve chosen to use recorded dialogue lifted straight from the films for their cutscenes. Sometimes this makes the audio quality pretty poor, and it always feels just plain odd. Especially when different actors are then used for other incidental dialogue for the same plastic characters. But they still play on those scenes nicely, with daft background details, dinosaurs looting shops with shopping trolleys, and incessant mockery of Jeff Goldblum for what one might argue was a touch of over-acting.

Lego Jurassic World ends up being a middling entry for TT’s enormous franchise, but a middling entry by them is still enormously better than most other family games. If your kid has a hankering for dinosaurs, then you get to stomp about as all sorts of them, especially in Free Play (running around Jurassic World as a velociraptor is a good deal of fun.) It’s a lot shorter in story content than we’re used to, and I’m surprised by some of the scenes that are skipped or thrown away as cutscenes. But importantly, it does feature an incredible amount of Lego poo. Characters sift through it, and even dive head-first into giant piles of it. And that’s my kind of game. Still, you’re sadly better off picking it up for console than the dismissive PC build.

It’s on Steam for £25. You are MUCH better off getting Lego Marvel Superheroes, currently £7.50.

18 Comments

  1. ButterflyRogers says:

    “This time I’ve frequently found the character I’m controlling falling through the floor and eternally plunging below the world, or leaping up into the stratosphere of the skybox. On occasions this has meant having to start levels over again, which is a mighty pain. I’ve also had it crash to desktop”

    This is exactly why they refuse to give you a review code.

  2. GallonOfAlan says:

    Dunno about PC but I’ve played almost all of them on t o 100% completion on 360 with the kids, and show-stopping bugs which make levels impossible to complete, characters getting stuck and hard lockups are by no means confined to one of them.

    • wyrm4701 says:

      Played them all to 100% on PC with the ladyfriend, and I can confirm game-breaking bugs across the line. Once every couple of sessions, something forces a restart of the game. One in ten times, it’s a full system crash. I don’t think TT Games has put much effort into bugfixing for a very long time.

  3. HamsterExAstris says:

    It’s also very peculiar how they’ve chosen to use recorded dialogue lifted straight from the films for their cutscenes. Sometimes this makes the audio quality pretty poor, and it always feels just plain odd. Especially when different actors are then used for other incidental dialogue for the same plastic characters.

    I didn’t notice that, at least in the PS4 version. As far as I could tell (finished the first movie & part of the second), if they had additional dialogue for a character they had the new actors redo the actual lines from the movie. (For example, Gerry Harding.)

  4. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Man, you are a killjoy. Jurassic World was hardly the most amazing film ever, but it was a fun way to spend two hours. I’d like to add that the original film doesn’t hold up amazingly well. Yeah, the CGI effects are still surprisingly good, but there are plenty of things about it that rub me the wrong way (the cartoon “slipping” noise when Nedry falls while trying to get his car back to the road is especially awful and out of place) and make me find it to be considerably weaker than, say, Jaws, a film with far less impressive effects but stronger characters and a more ambitious structure.

    And, uh, yeah, I’ll probably get this game when it goes cheap, mostly for dinosaurs. Universal really missed an opportunity to release a new-and-improved take on the Operation Genesis formula.

    • Orix says:

      I agree. Lighten up a bit John!

      Can’t really beat the nostalgia and pace of the original, but Jurassic World was far better than Jurassic Park 3, and on par with The Lost World. It seriously had me on the edge of my seat and biting my fist in suspense once the dung hit the fan. Sure, it was silly daft fun, but that’s kinda what I was expecting.

      Ah, them ficklesteroidraptors ^_^

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:

        Credit where credit is due, though, he actually criticized a practical effect (the sauropod head, which I thought was perfectly fine), instead of jumping on the bandwagon of seemingly 60% of critics these days who decry CGI in all its forms.

        • voodoo child says:

          I actually got really excited when I saw the practical-sauropod head.

          Reading his review, it sounds like he went into the movie expecting to write a harsh, angry, review, and the movie itself wasn’t going to change that.

          • Premium User Badge

            John Walker says:

            Oh good grief, I’m not a film reviewer! I had no expectation of writing *anything* about it!

            I went to see it because I love the franchise, and I was hugely disappointed by a really terrible, nasty, cynical and joyless film – so much so that when I got home I couldn’t sleep until I’d written out my thoughts about why I disliked it so much.

            The next time you decide to dismiss someone based on what’s essentially critical corruption, perhaps remember this incident when you were as wrong as you could possibly be.

          • voodoo child says:

            Woah, sorry that’s what I read out of your review. I also love the franchise and thought totally differently about the movie. I thought the characters were mostly likeable, the plot stupid (every Jurassic Park movies plot relies on someone being a moron, afterall), and the dinosaurs cool.

            So sorry, that’s what I got out of your review, I’ll try to read it from your perspective next time.

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      John Walker says:

      It’s always my favourite when someone accuses me of being a “killjoy” because I make some reasoned arguments about why something was bad, and then back up their argument by saying why other things that people like aren’t actually good or fun.

  5. Palladian says:

    You’re bang on in your analysis of Jurassic World (the film), John. It is a detestable film not merely because it’s badly made, but also because it exists to sell the products first of its vast amount of sponsors and secondly to sell toys.

    I did like your consideration of that shot where the shark is eaten which I didn’t notice. It has a similar moment of arrogance when dealing with the tyrannosaurus when the characters reenter the old Jurassic Park. Specifically when the new super-dinosaur rears back and roars in the lobby it exactly replicates (so far as I can tell) the same pose from the t-rex in the first film in the exact same location. It’s the same instinct of bravery and wit (utterly absent from the rest of the film) which guides both moments, I feel.

    [SPOILERS:]
    Of course, in the second case the moment is undercut because the same shot of rearing back and roaring is used yet again as the t-rex appears in the climax.

    Good to see the game is better!

  6. japstersam says:

    I agree that this is a fun game. I think its a bit harsh to shoehorn in your opinions about the film as fact rather than opinion, ie “more entertaining than the appalling Jurassic World movie” rather than “I found it more entertaining than the film, which I didn’t enjoy personally”. I really enjoyed the film and found this game a great companion piece.

    • Marr says:

      It’s a useful personal mental exercise to avoid all declarations of fact, but you won’t get far expecting everyone else to do it consistently. You just have to realise that when most people say ‘this movie is appalling’ you can read that as ‘this movie appalled me’. John plays with objective language a lot, but it rarely strikes me as serious. link to botherer.org

  7. RaoulDuke says:

    You always espouse the greatness of Lego Marvel Superheroes but I’d put it behind both this game AND Lego Batman 3, which was much, much more enjoyable overall imo, LMSH is great, don’t get me wrong, the main missions are fun for the most part if a bit unclear at times, but the “side-missions” [Can you destroy 10 of X/Can you find my “X-animal”] were terriblly repetitive, not as bad as in Lego Batman 2 but nearly as unimaginative, and listening to/watching those 10-20 second, forced dialogues with the “quest-giver” made me stop bothering after the tenth time.

    LB3 has those “quest-giver cutscenes” too but they are much reduced compared to LMSH [mostly in indoor locations], probably because of the other great change, also seen here in Lego Jurassic World, to have multiple small/medium hubs instead of one/two huge ones. I like that LB2/LMSH have huge, open hubs to run around in and feel like a super hero/villain but the repetition and arbitrariness of the “requests” was making it feel like a mega-grind, which is too much when the basic drive of the game is to grind out the percentage/gold bricks/mini-figs, echoed by the insistence on showing you it at the end of every “game/part” AND on the pause screen at all times.

    Maybe I need to replay LMSH with a friend, just the story missions or something but I felt hardly any compulsion to complete the quest-giver stuff in it and the missions were laborious, often with perplexing logic, even for a lego game ha.

    I stopped playing the Lego games co-op after LHP1-4 came out, but I have less problem with the levels where co-op matters more by speeding things along/making it funnier when you don’t get what to do. Whereas in the hub co-op adds less to the experience because you often go off and do your own thing anyway.

    I welcome any thoughts on this.

    • Scurra says:

      HP1-4 was the high-point of the series for me – a large and varied hub, with very little grindy feel and some really good distinction between the characters (not to mention anticipating a bit of intelligence from the players and building on it.) Plus the second character AI was smart enough to mean that there were almost no places where a single player had to fake co-op.
      Whilst later games maintained the quality (and, unlike others, I almost never encountered technical issues; maybe I’m just lucky?!), some of them did indeed get too big for their own good – for me, the “hub” that was the entirety of Middle Earth took the biscuit for absurdity.
      I suspect, however, that this will be the first TT Lego game that I will pass on (at least until a big sale) because I’m simply not interested in the IP. And playing dinosaurs isn’t quite enough to tempt me.

  8. daw8190 says:

    I tend to buy all the lego games for my 8yr old, but this is one that looks like I might try it :)