Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

Written by John Yan on 5/13/2003 for PC  
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It hasn’t been that long since that familiar whip and fedora hat appeared last on the PC. While you’re waiting for the fourth installment of the movie to be made, you can satisfy your Jones craving with the latest from LucasArts, Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb.

Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb is an third person action adventure game not unlike Tomb Raider. But we all know who was the first to hunt those archeological artifacts. Anyways, Emperor’s Tomb is a port of the Xbox game to the PC. And because of that, there are still some console aspects that could’ve been eliminated and improved upon on the PC. Right off the bat, you are treated to the traditional menu system that’s only adjusted via the up and down arrow keys. You would expect a mouse interface to get you through this but you are forced to maneuver through each selection just like the console. At least you can remap the keys and adjust the resolution as you see fit.

The story is basically Indiana trying to prevent a black pearl called the Heart of the Dragon from falling into the wrong hands. Some places you’ll be visiting are Ceylon, Hong Kong, and Istanbul to name a few. As with the movies, you start out hunting an artifact that has some bearing on the main storyline. You’ll even see those famous traveling sequences that the Indy movies and old serials are known for. Indiana is voiced by an actor that has a very nice resemblance to Harrison Ford’s voice. What’s with Harrison Ford and not taking the time to lend his voice to Indy? You don’t see Mark Hamill turning down LucasArts. Show LucasArts some love, Harrison.

Let’s get to the game itself. You’re given a good variety of movements and skills to use as you traverse the game. I especially enjoyed grasping on the edge of ledges whether jumping towards an edge or just lowering yourself down. The grapple reminded me of Prince of Persia and a lot of places actually take advantage of this skill as some jumps are just out of your reach to land on your feet but not from making a nice hair raising save from falling with your hands. As with most platform type games you can run, jump, and other general movements.

Fighting in Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb is actually a lot of fun. The control scheme is the left mouse button is used for a left-handed punch while the right mouse button is for a right-handed punch. Combos are generated by different patterns of button presses. To grab someone, just press the two together. After a grab you can do various other combos by pushing the buttons or even slamming someone against a wall if you are close. I’ve even toss people off of cliffs to my delight. There are a lot of objects that you can pick up to use such as chairs, bottles, and shovels. Even your enemies can use them too and you’ll see a few run over and pick up a weapon from time to time. Indy also has his trusty whip that can also be used to swing on objects or whip weapons out of enemy hands. Guns are also in the game and they can dispatch enemies quickly.
It’s too bad the AI can be rather stupid, even for a movie villain variety. For example, I had one scenario with two guards and while I was beating one up the other was oblivious to the situation even though the sound of my fists smacking on the guy’s face was pretty loud. Also, there were times were the enemy saw me off in the distance and kept on going about his business like I wasn’t even there. But there were times when they acted well with some enemies hiding behind pillars and peaking out to shoot me or performing a few dodge movies before trying to get a bead on me.

Levels are divided up into sections and like most console games you have to finish the section in order to save the game. I’m one who really hates save points and if you take the time to port the game to the PC, you should add a save option. While most sections are short enough, there are some that can be rather frustrating and my idea of replaying it over and over again from the beginning isn’t what I consider fun. Is it too hard to ask for the ability to save whenever you want on a PC game?

The various non-jump puzzles that are presented to you aren’t bad. Some change the perspective to an almost top down view with controls adjusted to what is entitled adventure setting where you can hop or roll from tile to tile. Anytime you come to a point where you have to use an item, a little icon pops up in the upper right corner giving you the symbol of what you need to do making the game less frustrating in this aspect.

If you don’t like jump puzzles, absolutely stay away from this game as Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb is full of them. Many require some good timing and will require many tries to get right. Since this was a console game, I expected a few jump puzzles here and there but not this many. The amount and frequency of these types of puzzles were just too much for me and without a save feature, the frustration of having to do one over and over again is magnified tenfold.

The graphics are ok with some models looking pretty good. The various environments are also done well giving you a good variety of areas to go through. While the graphics aren’t top notch, they do justice to the game nicely with good animation. The various maneuvers that Indy pulls off are smooth and executed well.

Sound has always been a strong point with LucasArts and Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb continues the strong tradition. The familiar theme will bring back memories as it’s rendered well digitally. Various sound effects you hear in the game show off the good job that the team did. From busting crates to the sound of Indy beating up on a grunt, the game’s sound effects are one of the strong points of this game.

I tested the game on an Athlon XP 2200+ with 512MB of PC2700 ram and an ATi All-in-Wonder 9700 Pro. The game ran very well and I didn’t notice any slowdowns or stuttering. With a few graphical options to adjust, you can get it to run well even on slower machines.

Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb is an ok game that’ll give you a lot of exploration to do. It’s just too bad that there are so many jump puzzles and the lack of a real save feature can really make some levels a frustrating experience. The fighting is a lot of fun to watch. Personally, I would pick it up on a console system than the PC but you might be able to find it cheaper as a PC game. It will feed your Indy fix until the movie comes out sometime in the next few years.
Buy this game if you love jump puzzles. You'll find some nice Indy moments but the lack of a true save feature and some frustrating puzzles will keep keep this game from being the Holy Grail.

Rating: 7 Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

I've been reviewing products since 1997 and started out at Gaming Nexus. After writing for a few different sites that went under, it's nice to bring back a site that's not dependent on revenue and just wants to deliver news and reviews of products.

I'm  married, and enjoy first person shooters, sports games, and real time strategy games.

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