Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb
Indy is back! It may be taking George Lucas and co. a long time in deciding what to do for the fourth Indiana Jones film, but there are no such delays when it comes to the games. It's been a good few years since Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, but the wait was worth it, as this latest game is one of the better games on the Xbox to date. The Emperor's Tomb was developed by The Collective who were also responsible for Deep Space Nine: The Fallen, a vastly underrated game on the PC.
If you've been following the Indiana Jones games you'll already be aware that with Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine the series moved away from the point 'n' click adventure game genre and into the action/adventure genre. This upset a lot of people as the previous game, Indiana Jones and the fate of Atlantis is held by many to be the best adventure game of all. While personally I was upset that the series had moved away from being a point 'n' click adventure, it was pleasing that the Infernal machine game was not only in the style of Tomb Raider but was actually a much better game than any Lara Croft had appeared in. The Emperor's Tomb, like the Infernal Machine before it is an action/adventure game.
The game begins with Indy in Ceylon in search of an artefact. One home, he is studying the artefact in his classroom when he is interrupted by two Orientals who explain to him that they need his services for an urgent assignment. The first Emperor of China, Ch'in, was believed to have had an important religious relic buried with him, the Heart of the Dragon. This black pearl is said to possess the power to control mankind. They explain to Indy that the three parts of the Mirror of Dreams are needed to get them into the tomb. The Oriental lady then smashes the artefact that Indy has bought back from Ceylon to reveal the first part of the Mirror. Indy is told that he must set off to Prague to set about locating the second part. Of course there are enemies who are already on the trail of the parts of the mirrror.
Like in all the Indiana Jones games to date, Indy has the full use of various guns, rifles and of course the bull whip. What makes the Emperor's Tomb special though is the superb hand to hand combat. Fistfights are right out of Hollywood and look very dramatic. If that wasn't enough you can even pick up shovels and chairs etc. to use as weapons which makes for great entertainment value. What I would complain about though is the effectiveness of these weapons. Take the machete for instance. In real life, if you attacked someone with a machete they would soon be in ribbons. In the game though you're better off with your fists as the machete seems to do hardly anything. The bullwhip also seems to do little damage but it's great to be able to whip an enemy, pull them toward you and smack them with your fist. Most enemies also need a couple of shots from a gun in order to finish them off. Whilst playing in easy mode I understand the need to lower the damage to Indy but the damage to the enemies should not have been lowered too.
What could irritate some gamers is the way in which you can come to an abrupt end. The game won't let you save anywhere you like. There are checkpoints within the levels and the game automatically saves when you pass these checkpoints. Most of the time these checkpoints are not too far apart but occasionally the gap is quite large and after avoiding a load of death trap devices and enemies, you miscalculate a jump and it's game over with a return to your last checkpoint being your only course of action. This can lead to a lot of frustration and will put some people off.
Graphically the game looks good but it wouldn't be right to say that it looks as good as it could do on the Xbox. Indy looks close enough to Harrison Ford to please fans of the films. The game features many locations including Ceylon, Prague and China and they all look good. The framerate can dip occasionally but it's never at a crucial moment. This genre is usually plagued by dodgy camera angles but for the most part the camera is well behaved. If it does go astray you can always press the left trigger to place it directly behind Indy.
I was very pleased to see that the Emperor's Tomb is fully subtitled. The subtitles are not on by default though so you'll have to enable them in the options menu. The subtitles are very easy to read as they are placed on a black overlay. What impressed me the most was the way in which your enemy's conversations are subtitled, even when they were out of sight. This enables deaf gamers to be aware of enemies who are lurking around the next corner, something that games don't usually do.
Is Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb a successful continuation of the gaming series? For me it's certainly as good as the Infernal Machine with various aspects of the gameplay certainly being better such as the fistfights. The puzzles might seem slightly easier for those who enjoyed the early adventure games but they seldom bring you to a full stop and I find that with this style of game, that's very important. You can't really compare it to Indiana Jones and the fate of Atlantis as it's a different type of game. Personally I would love to see LucasArts do another point 'n' click Indy game but the Emperor's Tomb is a fine action adventure and definitely one of the better games on the Xbox.
Game Rating: 8.7/10