Indiana Jones and the Emperor's TombThe trend among gamers over the past year or two has been to proclaim the adventure genre to be as dead as the dinosaurs, the do-do bird, and the New Kids on the Blockâ€™s singing careers. With a market thriving on the heavily popular Role Playing and First Person Shooter genres, developers have a void in the genre that spawned some of the most creative, challenging, and, above all else, memorable games to ever hit consoles. Today, â€œAdventure gameâ€ and â€œLara Croftâ€ are practically synonymous as Tomb Raider has become the mainstay of the genre. Following the original, the Tomb Raider series has taken a severe nose dive, and with it has plunged the status of the Adventure genre. Someone was bound to snatch the genre from the jaws of mediocrity, and who better to do it than the greatest adventurer of all time? Gameplay Indiana Jones and the Emperorâ€™s Tomb puts you in control of the incomparable archaeologist circa 1935. Beginning in the jungles of Ceylon, you will control Indyâ€™s actions as he climbs, whips, hacks, and fights his way through the harsh environment. Along the way youâ€™ll find yourself in historic, sometimes tropical but above all, adventure-filled locales searching for lost artifacts, battling the Nazi regime, or simply exploring the scenery. To be concise - you will be Indiana Jones just as you remember him from the movies. As you battle through the jungles and ruins of Ceylon, the story behind the game begins to unfold. Indy is once more searching for an ancient artifact, but is not without competition. After retrieving the artifact, Dr. Jones is contracted to retrieve yet another treasure - the heart of the dragon, an item used for mind control - from an ancient Chinese tomb that no man has ever returned from. This will send our hero around the world to Prague, Istanbul, Hong Kong, and the aforementioned sacred tomb in search of the artifact. Of course, Indy is not the only one with his eyes on the prize (so to speak), as he will encounter plenty of opponents along the way, ranging from Shiite warriors to the Chinese Mafia and even Nazis. Against all odds, it is your duty to keep the heart of the dragon out of the clutches of evil. Despite a tailor-made storyline, developer The Collective doesnâ€™t show quite the precision it did in its other Xbox title, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fortunately, with plenty to keep you busy, it becomes easy enough to overlook the flaws. At times the timing of jumps may be curious, but this is more of an issue of learning curve than a substantial problem. Other times you may feel a bit overwhelmed when engaging in hand to hand combat. Despite a rather robust fighting system, the game reminds you that the bad guys always have the upper hand, and itâ€™s your job to overcome their onslaught even under the bleakest of circumstances. There are also some instances where collision detection is not spot-on, but with as many enemies as youâ€™ll face and as many locales as youâ€™ll visit, there will be time enough to forget such flaws. Graphics Itâ€™s not without certain flaws that Indiana Jones swings into the multiplatform scene. Perhaps the most clear of these flaws is found in the visuals. Immediately evident is the lack of textures which at times can provide you with the additional challenge of having to find certain items that were not intentionally hidden. This is not nearly as frustrating as the scenario would lead you to believe, but can provide for extending gameplay in ways never intended. Level designs, including the flooring and certain design elements (bookcases, vines), tend to lack polish as well. While these problems are minor in that the game focuses on your actions rather than what you see around you, certain issues with clipping and collision detection may be of some true nuisance. However, these problems do not truly affect the focal points of the game (fighting and discovering) and should not prevent anyone from playing the game for themselves.
What each level lacks in â€œXbox polishâ€ is more than made up for with design ingenuity. Making use of what can only be assumed as appropriate dÃ©cor for both the time period and locations, each level as well as each individual stage has its own feel to it that is sure to captivate players. Not only is each locale in the game thematically appropriate (from Ceylon, to Prague, Istanbul and beyond), but each individual stage has its own appeal. It becomes clear that The Collective focused on creating environments that would captivate gamers; at this they were successful. Character models provide the best example of graphics in Indiana Jones and the Emperorâ€™s Tomb. While character designs tend to be redundant, the designs are both accurate to the location they are in, as well as pleasing to the eye. Indy himself is a finely crafted model; as he transitions throughout the game changing his outfit, new elements to his getup will become apparent. From his satchel to his jacket, and even the tux Indy dons in the later levels of the game, how Indy looks adds a certain significance to the game. In addition, all character models are animated quite well, allowing for fluid fight sequences and making Indyâ€™s actions easy to digest throughout the game. It may be subtle, but the attention to detail (in spite of the lack thereof in the level designs) is appreciated. Sound LucasArts has a track record for publishing games that hold audio elements in the highest regard (after all, George Lucas is the mind behind THX). In that respect, Indiana Jones must be seen (or heard) as a disappointment. Technical issues repeatedly plague the gameâ€™s otherwise pleasing soundtrack - the background music, for example, will stutter numerous times throughout play. Aside from technical issues, there is plenty of bad voice acting. Indyâ€™s main contact - a young lady named Mei Ying - is voiced with such an awful Chinese accent that at best the sense of immersion is lost, and at worst the game becomes comedic. This unintentional humor can be heard from standard baddies as they grunt and groan, impervious to any semblance of a real-world dialect. Otherwise, things sound rather good. The gameâ€™s sound effects are crisp and accurate. As for Indy himself, he is voiced so well that even the biggest fans of the movies will be impressed by the audible likeness to Harrison Ford, which is a plus since Indy will offer his two cents on nearly every situation throughout the game. Replay Value With a multitude of environments to explore, baddies to wipe out, and sacred objects to discover, it would seem that the game would have plenty to keep gamers wanting more. This, however, is not the case. Thereâ€™s no doubt that you will have reason to play through the game again, supposing you want to collect all of the games hidden sacred objects. However, with the gameâ€™s lack of an â€œon the flyâ€ saving method, itâ€™s likely that youâ€™ll find yourself disinterested in going through each level in its entirety for a second time. There are multiple difficulty levels to test your skills as an archaeologist and brawler, but the core elements of the game remain unchanged, despite the tougher enemy AI during fights. The game will likely maintain your interest until you complete it, and will have you looking back with a feeling of satisfaction that itâ€™s over, not a desire to do it all again. Overall In the movies, Indiana Jones always had trials and tribulations to forego, and in this game, not much has changed. Both from a story and a technical standpoint, youâ€™ll be faced with challenges. Fortunately, your in-game adversaries and puzzles will take a far greater toll on Indy than will the overall minor technical errors found within the game. While Indiana Jones and the Emperorâ€™s Tomb may not be the savior to the adventure game genre, it certainly brings plenty of action and scenery to the table, giving gamers the opportunity to take away a satisfying gaming experience. Brett C. Jones