Anthony's Film Review
Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb
(Video Game, 2003)
The game is fun enough to play, although its controls are very clunky...
Given how Indiana Jones has been, and still is, a thrilling action-adventure hero in movies, it is no surprise that the same character appears in the world of video games, giving people a chance to play the role of the daring adventurer with the fedora hat and bullwhip. Indiana Jones video games also allow people to enjoy new original adventures, not just the original three films (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, and Last Crusade). In 2003, the video game company LucasArts released Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, in which Indy is on a quest to find the legendary tomb of the first emperor of China.
Let me first talk about the gameplay. You, as Indy, are navigating a third-person three-dimensional environment, with Indy always in the center of the screen. There are two movement controls to use: one to move Indy around and one to move the camera around Indy to see things in front, to the side, or behind the character. In addition, you have controls for picking up and using items, whether they are weapons or other essential things required to get past certain points in the game, and for hand-to-hand combat. I will say right now what the problem with the controls is: clunkiness.
The problem doesn't occur while making Indy walk or run in any direction, jump across gaps, or hanging precariously onto high ledges. Rather, it occurs with combat. When you try to move Indy towards an enemy in order to deliver punches and kicks, you might sometimes get a bit confused with how the movement works so that you make Indy run off in a different direction unintentionally. The separate movement for the camera makes it worse, because sudden shifts in perspective can make you disoriented and unable to tell what direction you want Indy to go. That's not to say combat is impossible in this game (in fact, the combat is plenty of fun in this game). Still, it could have been done better.
As for the story, it's one that could work for an Indiana Jones movie. The first chapter of the game takes place in Ceylon, where Indy is seeking an artifact in a temple. At the end of the chapter, Indy encounters a Nazi named Von Beck. Later, while at his office in New York, Indy gets a visit from two Chinese individuals: Marshall Kai and his assistant Mei Ying. Kai explains that the Nazis are seeking the tomb of the first emperor of China and asks Indy to find it first. But in order to do that, Indy has to find three pieces of a legendary mirror that would help reveal the tomb's location. From there, Indy's adventure will take him to Prague, Istanbul, Hong Kong, and China.
Putting aside all gripes about the frustrating controls with combat, the game is not bad. I enjoyed exploring various environments, getting past dangerous obstacles, solving puzzles, and fighting various enemies. It certainly recreates the excitement of an Indiana Jones movie. And like any Indy movie, there are encounters with the supernatural and things that are otherwise beyond this world, though it's much heavier in this aspect than the movies. For example, in this game, Indy goes up against a manmade creature in a laboratory (a la Frankenstein), a giant sea creature, and even reanimated corpses in a temple. And the last part of the game is so out of this world that it practically enters the genre of fantasy.
With all of this, Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb deserves a marginally positive rating. The story is fun but otherwise nothing extraordinary, and the ending is very quick. (In fact, the game takes place right before Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the game's ending leads right into that movie.) And the rating definitely cannot be higher because of the game control issues I mentioned. All in all, this is a game that a die-hard Indy fan will enjoy, but a casual fan may find only mildly thrilling.
For more information about Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, visit the Internet Movie Database and Moby Games.