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Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb Review
game: Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb
four star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: LucasArts
date posted: 09:10 AM Sun Jul 6th, 2003
last revision: 03:17 PM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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By Todd Allen

This game is one of the few examples of when a license can enhance the gameplay of a title. In fact if the name had been Fred Smith and the Emperor\'s Tomb, this game would have probably been lost in the shuffle. Basically, the addition of a lovable hero and therein an entertaining story make this title worth checking out. The gameplay will not be earning any innovation awards, but it provides a good vehicle to get you through another nostalgic romp with our whip-toting friend. LucasArts has a full house when it comes to popular licenses and this game is yet another instance of them flexing their movie muscle.

Bringing the name Indiana Jones to the table is naturally going to demand that some expectations be met, namely in the storyline. This new title boasts a truly new story and new chapter in Indy\'s career. That doesn\'t mean the developers have abandoned what makes us flip to the Temple of Doom every time we see it on some cable station. True to form, Emperor\'s Tomb is chock-full of exotic locales, treasure, and of course those nasty Nazis trying to take over the world. This time they\'re after an ancient Chinese artifact named the Heart of the Dragon, a valuable black pearl hidden away in the tomb of Emperor Ch\'in Shih-huang-ti. Sure, who doesn\'t want something like that to put over their fireplace, but there\'s more to the pearl than its beauty. The man commissioning Indy to find the treasure before the Nazis admits that it can be used to control the hearts of mortal man. All of the sudden you really don\'t want those goose-stepping thugs to get hold of such a powerful artifact and the race is on. Along the way, players will, of course, have their share of people to meet and stunts to perform. That is what the Indiana Jones license does for this game.

Graphically, the Emperor\'s Tomb is average. There are several cases of jagged edges, which, if you are the kind of gamer who pays attention to detail, can serve as a distraction from what is going on. Also the animation can be pretty rigid at times. In the beginning levels Indy must avoid a ghostly crocodile patrolling the waters around a valuable artifact. Upon inspection, the croc\'s movements are rather robotic as are Indy\'s when he decides to take a swim. On the flip side there are times when the game\'s graphics get the job done. Facial detail is done well. Aside from the occasional rough edges the environments provide good atmosphere and ambiance. I really appreciated the detail given to Indy\'s equipment. By that I mean that whatever he has picked up will be seen on his person. By the end of the first sequence I was running down halls with a revolver on one hip and a whip on another along with the shotgun I\'d lifted off a thug slung over my shoulder. It is an element of realism that I would love to see done more often in video games. Another small touch I appreciated was that his gear moves independently of him as he runs, jumps, and climbs. If you read through the notes in one of the coolest instruction booklets I\'ve seen a long while, you\'ll notice a doctor\'s note telling Indy to take it easy on his right arm along with a prescription for pain medicine. If you don\'t move for a few moments in the game, low and behold Indy will not only start to favor his arm, but try to stretch it too. These are all small details, but they really go a long way to counteract the less savory aspects of the game\'s graphics. Speaking of less than savory, let\'s take a look at the control scheme of Emperor\'s Tomb.

Control is the biggest problem this title has. It is by no means bad enough to really handicap the game, but it can be a source of irritation until you get used to it. Indy\'s movements don\'t seem to be in sync with the controls and you\'ll see this particularly during the jumping sequences. The animation can be partly to blame for this because it can be hard to get a feel for that \"last step\" you have before leaping. Since several of the jumps you must make require that timing, gamers will find themselves jumping too early or even running off a ledge before they can jump. This is a problem you can get used to with experience, though, making it only temporary. If you have access to a good controller, I would recommend it over using the keyboard. I noticed how much more intuitive the controls felt using a controller, especially having the use of shoulder buttons.

Once you come to grips with the control scheme of the Emperor\'s Tomb, you\'ll start to have a lot more fun. Particularly enjoyable are the fistfights you\'ll get into. The developers have created a relatively simple and effective avenue for beating up thugs and Nazis. Indy basically has two different punch combos available to him. Beyond that he is able to put up his fists and block enemies\' punches. The real fun lies in Indy\'s ability to grapple with the bad guys. You can grab someone and use one of the two punch combos to either get some good punches in or even share your knee with their gut a few times. More devastating maneuvers are available if you are able to catch someone from behind. Indy can also use his environment in a limited way in combat. If a wall is nearby Indy can shove his enemy into it, setting them up for a wicked beat down. Even better is your ability to shove your opponent off of ledges. It is particularly gratifying to see a Nazi bouncing down the roof you\'ve just pushed him off of. There are also a few nasty things you can inflict on the opposition with Indy\'s trusty bullwhip.

The game provides good audio in the form of several movie inspired tunes and some decent voice acting. I guess asking Harrison Ford to do any voice work is out of the question, but his replacement doesn\'t do too badly. Make sure you have your speakers turned up because several of the hints you get are from Indy himself as he wonders aloud how to get past an obstacle.

Overall, Indiana Jones and the Emperor\'s Tomb is a quality title that you can feel good about owning. While the gameplay alone is neither innovative, nor unique, the addition of the Indiana Jones name really enhances the quality of the game. Once again I\'d like to recommend using a good gamepad to get a more intuitive sense of control. LusasArts and The Collective have collaborated on a good game that provides enough substance to live up to the Indiana Jones name.