- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A popular brick-building universe succumbs to prehistoric chaos in the third-person adventure Lego Jurassic World (Warner Bros. Interactive and TT Games, Reviewed with Xbox One, Rated E10+, $59.99).

As a tongue-in-cheek homage to Steven Spielberg’s legendary dinosaur film franchise, the game allows up to a pair of players to control mini-figures and co-operatively explore, destroy, build and rearrange many objects, contraptions or set pieces such as structures, foliage, cages, vehicles and dinosaur skeletons.

With 20 main levels to conquer spread out amongst Isla Nublar, Isla Sorna and San Diego, not only are the first trio of movies played through but also the latest “Jurassic World” blockbuster, with players eventually controlling over 100 mini-block figures in their journeys.

Those figures are plucked from a range of heroes, villains and lesser-known characters from the “Jurassic Park” cannon.

Sure, homages to Chris Pratt (this guy is the Lego king) as dinosaur researcher Owen Grady; Jeff Goldblum as chaos theory mathematician, Dr. Ian Malcolm; and Laura Dern as paleobotanist Ellie Statler are available, but how about maneuvering the bumbling DNA thief Dennis Nedry or security guard and velociraptor snack Jophery Brown?

Even Mr. DNA shows up  — that wacky animated character who was part of the park’s introduction video — to offer game tips and is a usable mini-block figure.

Between grunts, many characters spout lines of dialogue from the film (using the original cast’s voices). Now that can be a bit unsettling for children, especially scenes based on some of the scary, screaming moments such as the famed stormy T-rex attack in the first film, and not always fitting in with the overall humorous tone of the game.

To balance that potential intense dialogue, the game continually offers a level of silly throughout the action and cut scenes.

Take the annoying lawyer Donald Gennaro getting gobbled up by the T-rex while hiding in a bathroom in “Jurassic Park.” He not only makes sure to scrub the teeth of his ingestor with a toilet bowl brush during the process but eventually gets spit out to admire his dental cleaning work.

Additionally, all mini-block figures have select powers to help solve the environmental puzzles or collect those valuable batches of studs (the game’s currency). Animal behavior scientist Sarah Harding, for example, can dive into piles of dinosaur poop to retrieve valuable items, or game warden Robert Muldoon can snipe out-of-reach targets or track and dig up hidden objects.

An assortment of vehicles is also available (from an ATV to a fork lift and motorcycle) to easily drive around the open islands. Find primary missions and secondary missions include rescuing a human or healing sick dinosaurs.

While on the topic, the majestic prehistoric beasts are easily the stars of the new game.

What will make dads young again and a child thinking about a career in paleontology is the chance to control and customize the dinosaurs.

A total of 20 beasts are available, all with their own special powers. They include a charging triceratops (to break concrete barriers), a stomping brachiosaurus, a venom-spitting dilophosaurus and, of course, a roaring tyrannosaurus rex.

Children can also express some genetic creativity as they customize their acquired dinosaurs with different color schemes, body parts and even rearrange the base DNA protein schemes of the animals (parents will need to offer a deeper explanation here) to deliver some surprising mutations.

A free-play mode allows players to roam through the parks and replay levels with any unlocked character of their choosing to find valuable amber bricks (to further customize dinosaurs), extra secrets and new interactions.

Despite the game’s laugh-and-action quotient, educational moments exist during every load screen. Mr. DNA pops in to offer facts about dinosaurs, including the tyrannosaurus rex was susceptible to mouth parasites (I did not know that), or a mosasaurus scales were keeled like that of a sharks.

All of the above, combined with that outrageous amount of stud collecting (required to unlock many characters, dinos and vehicles) will lead to hours upon hours of fun, especially when shared by friends, siblings or a parent and child.

By the way, for those just returning from a extended space trip, TT Games has built an empire off of melding the Lego brand of mini-figures, vehicles and sets into pop-culture franchises such as “Star Wars,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Indiana Jones” and “Batman” over the past decade.

“Lego Jurassic World” keeps the virtual building tradition alive, giving younger gamers a wonderful playground to appreciate some dynamite films.

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