Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb
If your only experience of archaeology has come as a result of watching Hollywood movies, you’re probably under the impression that the whole profession is one of constant excitement, imminent danger, and frenetic activity. It’s actually quite a letdown therefore, to discover that real-life archaeology consists of day after back-breaking day of scraping around in ditches with a toothbrush, trying to differentiate between fragments of stone-that-used-to-be-a-Roman-outhouse from the stuff that’s just ordinary stone. It’s just not exciting, as anyone who’s watched Time Team will know.
That’s why the majority of us prefer to live out our archaeological fantasies through the medium of videogames. These days one of the best known proponents of digital exploration is probably the silicon-tastic Miss Lara Croft, but long before the lovely Lara came along, one man was flying the flag for archaeologists – with his trademark fedora and whip, Indiana Jones made looking for broken bits of old stuff cool, and now he’s back in a whole new adventure… Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb.
Because it’s set between Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, this latest game once again finds the grizzled Doctor Jones facing off against his favourite foes – the Nazis. Apparently the Germans with a fondness for jackboots are after another ancient-yet-powerful relic: the ‘Heart Of The Dragon’, a black pearl said to give whoever possesses it the power to manipulate people’s minds. It goes without saying that our Indy’s not going to risk letting the Nazis get their grubby mitts on something like that, and so he sets out to find it himself, with a little help from a mysterious Asian businessman (so mysterious in fact, that you just know he’s gonna turn out to be a bad guy!) and his beautiful assistant (read: feisty love interest) Mei Ying.
So what does this mean in terms of gameplay? Well you can expect level after level of massive, beautifully atmospheric environments, ranging from city streets through ornate Asian monasteries to – of course – ancient underground tombs. You view and control Indy in third-person perspective, and each level offers a variety of different hazards, whether it’s foes, devious traps, ancient puzzles or even hostile local wildlife. It should be pointed out, though, that the puzzles aren’t exactly taxing, but then they’re not supposed to be. The emphasis in this game is on action and excitement. Where previous Indiana Jones titles have weighted the gameplay towards puzzle-solving, this time the game designers want you to feel like you’re almost in a movie. Hence more bad guys, more fighting, and more exciting set pieces as Indy finds himself having to escape one tight spot after another.
This style of gameplay won’t be to everyone’s liking, but for this reviewer, it worked. The overall experience is fast-paced and very enjoyable, and everything about the game is authentic Indiana Jones – from the music, right down to the rumpled clothing of the famous adventurer. Which you’d expect really, considering that the original versions of this game were developed by LucasArts. There are a few small niggles, notably with the camera, which gets a little hung up on the scenery at times; the swimming sections (which are a pain); and in the fact that there’s a fair degree of tricky jumping and swinging to be done which can result in one-too-many untimely deaths. On the whole, though, this is the closest we’ve come so far to actually being in an Indiana Jones movie. Dust off that fedora and order yourself a copy today!