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Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

Developer: Double Helix Games | Publisher: LucasArts
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 02/24/03 | Genre: Action

Appearing for the first time in a very long time on the PS2, PC, and Xbox platforms, our favorite Archeologist, Doctor Jones, tries his luck at action, adventure, and a little Nazi butt kicking. Unlike the movies, the games in this franchise have been bad. However, things have changed and for the first time, Indiana Jones cracks his whip in style in Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb.

Indy begins his adventure in the jungles of Ceylon. While it appears at first to only be a brief tutorial on how to play the game, as you progress through the level, you get a taste of the action and adventure that awaits you in the rest of The Emperor’s Tomb. However, that does not mean this initial level has nothing fun to offer. You start off by trying to find a way to enter the ruins and come out with the famed treasure from within. At any corner danger could be lurking. This is especially true since the Ivory hunters are there and they don’t want to see Indy escape with the treasure.

And for an initial level to introduce players to the game, this is massive. As you complete a certain task, you will exit one part of the level and enter another one. Usually a short cinema of some kind will be shown and there will be a new objective to complete. While I was never told the game was saved, I turned off the game and returned to see all the other parts of the level were there so I could backtrack if I wanted to.

But as I played through the game, there are several problems that occur. First I will state a few minor problems. I was being chased by a crocodile and he was trying to eat me as I pulled myself out of the water. The crocodile somehow got up on the ledge where I was and proceeded to swim in mid-air. This was quite humorous. However, if a flying crocodile is after you, I am not sure if even Indy’s whip could save him.

At other times during the game, the music will begin to play very choppy. At other times, the framerate will drop dramatically--even if there isn’t much going on the screen. While I used to give Lucasarts a lot of credit for the work they have done, after Obi-Wan, I am much more critical of their work. Obi-Wan was a game that was so bad, it should have been canceled or given another 6 months of development time to clean up the bugs. While Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb doesn’t have nearly the number of bugs that Obi-Wan had, I still have a hard time believing the framerate and flying crocodile issues couldn’t have been addressed.

Another issue I have with Indy is that while playing as “Doctor Jonesâ€? is a blast, the AI is pretty unintelligent. Whether that is because Lucasarts is trying to give Indy an edge over all of his foes, like he seems to always have in the movies, I wish the enemies would have given a bit more of a fight. But nothing beats hearing the Indiana Jones music while fighting with Nazzis!

As I mention in just about every review of a 3D game, there are the usual camera problems. However, only during intense fighting sequences do they cause you much grief. Fortunately, Lucasarts included the L trigger to center the camera behind Indy. This helps ensure that while there are still some camera problems, you can reduce the severity of them.

For the most part, the controls are great. However, they can be a bit inconsistent. For example, Indy can slide left and right against a wall. However, whenever you find a situation where you would like to perform this, the wall will never let you slide up against it. Also, I have died once too many times because a jump didn’t work right. I have jumped to swing my whip and when jumping across to the next platform I am trying to go to, Indy somehow falls to the ground. This is also true for when you make a long jump and try to hang on to a platform. Sometimes Indy will hang on and other times he just falls. And since death requires you to start at the beginning of a particular level, it can be quite a pain in the butt to retrace your steps only to die at the same spot again. I think this is an issue they missed during debug time at the end of development.

The graphics in The Emperor’s Tomb are both good and bad. The model for Indy is perfect. All aspects of his character look so close to Harrison Ford. They even found a guy who sounds a little bit like him. I find that most of the other characters in the game like the same detail as Indy. This could be because Lucasarts wanted him to stand out in the world. If this was the case, they succeeded. However, I would like to have seen a little more detail on the enemies. Besides the actual Indiana Jones model, the environments are also beautiful to look at. Overall, this is a job well done.

While there are some issues with the game, the most important question is whether the game is fun. Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb succeeds in this category. No matter how frustrated I get with the controls, cameras, or anything else, I seem to keep wanting to go back for more. While some will point out the problems above are not worth the price of admission, I see it as well worth it. Since we probably won’t ever see the rumored last Indiana Jones film, hopefully Lucasarts can continue to bring us new Indy titles to satisfy or craving for action and adventure.

Also, although I don’t think I need to mention this, Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb is not a Tomb Raider rip-off. While they both explore and play from the Third Perspective, the similarities end there.

If you are a fan of Indy, this is a must buy. If you are just looking for a new action/adventure title, this is worth at least a rental--if not a purchase.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 03/14/03

Screenshots for Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

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