The last Indiana Jones game I played was the Infernal Machine on the PC. While it was a good game, it seemed a little too much like Tomb Raider for me. The Collective’s latest Indiana Jones reincarnation might follow in the same Tomb Raider vein, but they were able to capitalize on the success caused by Buffy the Vampire Slayer to create an enjoyable adventure title that the Xbox surely needed, plus was a lot of fun on the PC.
Taking place before the movie trilogy even starts (in 1935), Emperor’s Tomb has Professor Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr. in search of an ancient Chinese Artifact known simply as the "Jade Dragon." Hoping to acquire the Dragon before the Nazis and the Asian underworld get their hands on it, Indy, along with a mysterious woman named Mei Ying, travel to exotic locations such as a Nazi castle in Prague, an Istanbul mosque, and the streets of Hong Kong.
Fans of Buffy on the Xbox will feel at home with the controls. Two buttons (X and A) are used for primary and secondary attacks, B is used to jump, and the Y key is used to use items or your surroundings. Inventory is controlled by the D-pad, and items can be pulled out or sheathed with the white button.
Indy even improves on Buffy’s original moves by being able to use his trusty whip to cross vast chasms, as well as being able to back up against a wall and walk alongside it, a must for some very tight spaces.
While the Jade Dragon is the primary quest, along the way Indy will come across some rare artifacts that can be added to the collection found at the title screen.
For the most part, the game’s visuals are stunning. Everything that looked good in Buffy has carried over to this game, especially the faces (well, most of them concerning Buffy). Up close, Indy looks like he always did even back in 1981 (except clean shaven this time). Most of the time, the game runs very smooth, but for some unexplained reason, at times the game will suddenly pause. We’re talking half-second pauses on occasion, and it can be somewhat of a concern.
The sound has a similar problem. At times it seems as if the music was skipping around during battles. But whenever it wasn’t skipping, it sounded great, recreating the classic Indiana Jones theme perfectly. Voice acting is also superb, especially Indy. Now we know this is not Harrison Ford doing the voice work, but whoever it is sounds exactly like them (once again, another Buffy similarity, as the fake Buffy voice sounded almost like Mrs. Prinze Jr., uh I mean Sarah Michelle Gellar.)
On the PC, this is easily the best Indy game we have seen. There is actually a lot of action in the game. You will be punching and fighting and having a good old time all over the world. Previous Indy games were a bit too much "climb here, stack this rock, ect." for most PC gamers. But with Indy, there is a great mix of both puzzle solving and raw butt-kicking. I found myself drawn to battles because it was so cool having Indy beat up bad guys. And the puzzles were good too, but did not dominate the game.
In the end, the Collective has struck again with another successful adventure game. While it might not be as smooth or polished as Buffy was, Emperors Tomb is a strong title for any Xbox owner or Indiana Jones fan. Don’t let the strange pauses and skipping audio keep you away from a strong 4-Gem title, because you’ll enjoy what is left in the end.
Developers: The Collective
Platforms: PC, Xbox