Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, GC, PS2
Publisher
LucasArts
Developer
The Collective
Genre
Adventure
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Great combat
• Jones looks and sounds good
• Nice levels

The Bad

• Lots of glitches
• Puzzles are ridiculously easy

 
Grade
B

The Collective, the people who made the successful Buffy the Vampire Slayer, have taken their fine game and battle engine and made a new game focusing on everyone's favorite archaeologist explorer, Indiana Jones. The year is 1935 and Jones is set on the task of finding a powerful ancient Chinese artifact. He, of course, must keep it out of the hands of evil. To help him with his adventure are his whip, hands, guns and partner, Mei Ying.

At the heart of the game is your standard explorative action game, much like Buffy and Tomb Raider. You'll find yourself going from point A to point B, dealing with the various enemies, traps and using Indy's whip to aid him in the platforming elements that just about every stage offers. While the game is broken up into stages, none of the sizable areas are too big as to make getting to the next area excessively hard. This decision must be a fix from Buffy, where the game saved at checkpoints between each section and the longer levels provided a lot of cheap deaths and unnecessary redoing. In Indiana Jones, this seems less of an issue as each location feels just long enough and if you do die from a fall, you won't be spending too much time getting back to where you were.

While you'll be doing a good bit of switch throwing and platform climbing/jumping, there is a large amount of combat to be had. Built on the Buffy engine, the combat is quite well done and enjoyable. While you can use guns, chairs and even bottles to fight with, the strength of the system is the hand-to-hand and the use of Indy's whip, which can allow you to disarm enemies. The whip can also be used to swing from one spot to another during platforming sections. Add on some stealth elements, like wall hugging and looking around corners and you'll have a pretty good package.

As with any other adventure game, there are some puzzles to solve. I say "puzzles", but let's be honest - you'd have to be missing part of your brain not to get past these. They're insultingly easy and obviously just tacked on the break up the platforming and combat. Throw in the numerous icons that pop up to tell you when to use your whip, throw a switch or hack through vine with a machete, and most anyone should have no problem getting through the game.

The graphics engine has a good base to start with. Each of the levels has a nice size and a fine level of detail. The lighting effects are well done and you can tell some attention has been given to making the textures for the stones look accurate. On the other hand, though, a number of the other textures are repeated and blurry and it seems very little time has been spent on the more organic aspects of the environments. The character models look good and are animated well, especially during fights. In comparison to the models in Buffy, though, these models do tend to look a little rough around the edges. On the whole, you should be pleased with the way the game looks, even if things like lackluster looking water do come into play.

Musically, the traditional Indiana Jones score and background music is used well and helps carry the theme. The voice acting, though, is rather hit and miss - the actor for Indy sounds close to Harrison Ford's take on the character. The NPCs are okay, but a lot of their lines are repeated. Also, the accents for some of the characters are just downright awful.

Where things seem to unravel a bit is the fact that Indiana Jones suffers from a checklist of glitches and some unusual decisions made during the development of the game. You will notice a number of times where the polygon clipping is particularly nasty as Indy runs through parts of walls or fallen enemies will be laying halfway into one barrier or another. And Indy will find himself running into invisible barriers or even standing on air. Also, you'll find some places you can walk on, while others that look equally as explorable are impassable because of the invisible barriers. Throw in some slowdown and even music skipping and you have a game that feels more and more unfinished the further you get into it. On top of that, it seems that Indy can't handle even the smallest fall without noticeable damage. This is remedied by allowing you to heal with the water in your canteen, but since you can replenish this so often, you may not have too much trouble getting through the game.

Indiana Jones is a pretty good game in it's own right. Look past the glitches and the mediocre puzzles and you can find a fun action/adventure for just about anyone. Perfectionists may just want to rent this game as the lack of polish may turn some off, but everyone should enjoy this title.

- - Kinderfeld

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