If the world was made of LEGO, our world, the real one, you’d smash it to bits. You know you would. I would. Who wouldn’t? Mahatma LEGO Gandhi maybe. But they haven’t made that movie into a hilariously enjoyable video game just yet. And that’s probably fine. What has made it to the LEGO gaming world is a great collection of pop culture franchises, all ready to splinter and fly apart into glorious bouncing multicoloured cubes. My girlfriend and I have played the LEGO Batman games, which are wonderful fun. Star Wars, The Hobbit, The Avengers, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones have all gotten the LEGO treatment. So with the ripping success of this summer’s Jurassic World, it’s only fitting that Spielberg’s dinosaurs should be bricked too.
If you’ve played any of the previous LEGO entries from developer Traveller’s Tales, you have a solid idea of what’s happening this time around. You get to play as a series of characters from the various Jurassic movies, from Park through the sequels right up to Jurassic World. Each character has a moderately unique ability, and each ability helps to solve a set of never-too-hard puzzles. Smashing bits of scenery into LEGO bricks and scooping up little silver and gold coins before they disappear earns points. Some bouncing bricks can be reassembled into handy items like a suction excavator or part of the track for a cage. By solving each stage’s puzzles, you move through the plot of the movie. Pretty simple, and always fun.
Like its predecessors, this is a kids’ game. They follow the plots of the movies perfectly, but they’ve toned the violence all the way down, playing any potentially dangerous scenes for laughs. Rather than a crewman getting his arm caught in a cage holding an ornery velociraptor, the crewman’s holding a big, tasty sausage. He’s very sad to lose it to the dino, which is funny for kids and wryly amusing for more knowledgeable adults, who know his arm would make a perfectly delicious raptor sausage on its own.
The LEGO park jungle is beautifully realized. On a PS4, colours are vibrant, striking a perfect balance between cartoon and lickable plastic virtual reality. Playing as the different characters gives just enough variety to the gameplay to keep it interesting, and there’s an abundance of dialogue from the Jurassic films to add character as the plot unfolds. (LEGO Jeff Goldblum retains his wryly ridiculous joy.) There’s great moments like when Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant and Laura Dern’s Dr. Ellie Sattler run with the children through a broken plain, trying to avoid a stampeding herd of dinosaurs. The camera flips and you control the characters as they race toward you, giving you the full view of the rampaging dinos rapidly closing from behind. It’s a taut and exciting bit. And yes, you get to play as the dinosaurs on occasion, too.
If you don’t know the plots of the movies, a few puzzles might slow you down, but on the whole this stuff is pretty straightforward. Kids should be able to figure them out, whether a dino-buff adult is present or not. As you play you unlock more characters, which ultimately allow you to play through the game a second time, solving puzzles you couldn’t get without the additional skills the first time around. With all the movies included, that’s a ton of playable content to keep you going for many hours of brick-smashing excitement.
You’d think people would figure out every time they build this park, it’s a terrible idea. But it’s sure a blast to watch them repeatedly screw it up. And in the LEGO universe, all those fatal mistakes become simply hilarious. Just like tearing apart your LEGO spaceship for the umpteenth time, LEGO Jurassic World is immensely satisfying. From the jungle vines and sand castles to the raptors and the mighty T-rex, it’s top-notch dismantling fun. No bones about it, you’ll be grinning ear to ear.