LEGO Rock Raiders is a action/strategy game for the kids in your life.
After a wormhole incident that strands the LEGO teams on the other side of the universe,(ever see Star Trek Voyager?) the crew of the geological survey ship "Explorer" are stuck in orbit around an uncharted planet. The crew has detected energy crystals in the caverns of the planet that will help them repair their ship.
It’s up to you, to guide the characters through the caverns, to collect energy crystals and other items to help repair the ship. The underground caverns are packed with danger. There are lava pits, geysers, scorpions, rock monsters and other creatures. Players control one of five crew members as they search for the precious ore. Players use tools (drills, dynamite) and vehicles (hovercraft, jetpacks, heavy duty diggers) during the search for crystals.
Points are awarded depending on how many items are collected and how much time it takes to complete each mission. Gold, silver and bronze coins, along with corresponding points, are given after each mission completion. In the single player mode there are three levels with six missions each.
And the game is challenging. This is a game made for eight-year-olds and I was awarded a gold coin on only four out of 18 missions. You would have to be an eight-year-old genius to get 18 out of 18 gold coins. However, getting silver coins is easily accomplished, and gives you enough points to move on to the next level. The missions are fairly easy. As you progress, the missions take a little longer to solve and become slightly more difficult. Still, I don’t foresee any youngsters ripping their hair out over this game.
One nice feature on the controls is the Geoscanner button (R1), that helps the player see walls that can be drilled to access new caverns to explore. One minor nightmare is when controlling the vehicles. The control of the vehicle is relative to the camera view, which was quite irritating. I did eventually adapt, but not before many zany backwards flights throught the caverns. The game worked well with my Dualshock analog controller and the vibration worked nicely when operating a vehicle or using the drill. There is a small picture puzzle to occupy you during the loading of each mission.
The one absolutely ridiculous problem with this game is that there is no memory card ability. LEGO Rock Raiders instead uses the archaic password system to pick up where you left off. This is one of the passwords:
"square, X, triangle, up arrow, X, right arrow, triangle, X, up arrow, triangle, up arrow, down arrow, circle, left arrow, square, triangle, triangle, square, up arrow, right arrow, circle, triangle."
That’s 22 icons! Do the passwords really have to be that long? I’m trying to play a LEGO game, not access the Pentagon! I swear it takes longer to enter a password than it does to solve a mission.
LEGO Rock Raiders is perhaps the most non-violent game that I’ve seen in a long time. The two weapons that you can pick up are a freeze beam and a force-field thingamabob. The freeze beam gun kills deadly scorpions after a few shots, but it is the friendliest, G-rated death that I’ve ever seen. I had to watch the first half hour of Saving Private Ryan 20 times just to desensitize myself back to normal.
The animation at the beginning and throughout the game are quite good and really brings the LEGO toys toys to life. However, the graphics in player-controlled mode are only slightly above average. The controlled characters and monster graphics aren’t any better than something off the Sega Genesis.
All in all, LEGO Rock Raiders is a good action/strategy starter for any gaming beginner. I give LEGO Rock Raiders 3 1/2 out of 5 GINGEMS for being an engaging level based, goal oriented, action game for kids eight and up. Plus at $19.95, the price is right, so start digging.