Globetrotting archaeologist Indiana Jones embarks on another video game adventure with Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb. Unlike the previous Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, this game is designed to be more action-oriented, with hand-to-hand combat against martial artists and Nazis throughout the streets of Hong Kong and 1935 China. Objects in the environment can also be used as weapons, so Indy can clang heads with a shovel or knock foes back with a chair in addition to using his bullwhip and pistol.
Dr. Jones will also be able to zip through the narrow, crowded streets and canals on board a rickshaw and gondola, respectively, to elude his pursuers. As Indy makes his way through the humid jungles of Cylon, the mysterious underwater cities of Istanbul, and across the South China Sea, he will be joined periodically by the beautiful Mei Ying. Together they must prevent a variety of hostile groups from getting their hands on the legendary Heart of the Dragon, a relic with unimaginable power.
I just can't say, "Indiana Jones" without hearing the strains of John Williams' score. It's hard for me to even separate the words "fedora" and "whip". This is why I was so looking forward to seeing what today's technology could do with the world's most famous "archaeologist". For the most part, Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb satisfies as an action game (and fixes several problems of the Xbox version).
Sometimes the camera still gets caught up at weird angles but gone is the jittery st-st-st-st-stuttering that showed up intermittently through the Xbox incarnation. That being said, most everything else is faultless. The fisticuffs are good, the camera is above average, the graphics suitable, the puzzles well designed (if somewhat easy), and the control very good.
Like Jedi Knight II's lightsaber, my weapons of choice always put me in close quarters. While Indy isn't above using a gun, his best weapons are his fists and versatile whip. (Although if your opponent has a flamethrower you may want to rethink this strategy.) His inventory can be stocked with a whole assortment of weapons like Mausers, swords, spear guns and machine guns. In true Dr. Jones fashion, objects found in the environment can also be used to pummel opponents, including shovels, table legs and chairs.
The combat itself is quite enjoyable. You'll be looking for opportunities to heave enemies off catwalks or crack them against a wall so Indy can smack them silly. But sometimes only a grenade will do.
The enemy AI varies from level to level so each new enemy has to be considered. Some areas, when they spot you, they'll run to raise the alarm. In pairs, it's typical that one will brandish a gun and the other will attack with fists, blocking when appropriate. This makes every situation a little different than the one before it (especially when dealing with sharks). But the big thing here is that I didn't see any of them do stupid things, like get caught on corners, etc.
You might think this would extend the replay value but it doesn't. Levels are designed in a very straightforward manner, eliminating surprises for any further play-throughs. (I have to admit, some levels really are fun to replay - the closing level and the sunken city especially - even though you can walk through them "blindfolded" after a few attempts.) Your progress is saved after each mission and becomes playable at any time after.
LucasArts claims that ET is broken into equal thirds - action, puzzle, navigation - and this seems to be a fair assertion. Most levels do a good job mixing the three to drive the story forward, which has Indiana neck-deep in a plot to uncover the Heart of the Dragon in China. The story is quite cinematic complete with chase scenes. With a few modifications this could have been another Indiana Jones movie.
Eye and ear candy (now 100% wax free!) is good. There are some that may decry "low-res textures!" (which I just can't take points off for because I didn't notice) or the occasional clipping, but the entire package oozes style and distinctiveness. The sound-alike for Indy gets a special mention - he does a very good job.
If you're an Indy fan, I'd recommend Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb even with its low replay factor. It's stylish, fun and let's you go nuts with a whip.
You're Indiana Jones. Legendary adventurer. Daring rogue. And the most butt-kicking archaeologist the world has ever seen. It's 1935 and this time you must prevent a powerful Chinese artifact from falling into evil hands. This globe-spanning adventure pits you against evil Nazis and the Asian underworld with a mysterious and alluring partner, Mei Ying. It'll take more than just a trusty whip and pistol to avoid deadly traps and navigate through all the dangerous environments. Do you have what it takes to make it back alive?
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