It’s ironic that Indiana Jones and Emperor’s Tomb turned out to be a videogame instead of a movie. Why is that ironic? It’s not. That’s not the correct use of the word “ironic.” I’m using it that way on purpose because Alanis Morisette displayed her grammatical ignorance in her song Ironic by citing examples that are clearly not ironic. Coincidental or unfortunate perhaps, but not ironic. If you don’t know how to use words correctly then either take up housekeeping or come and work for us. We use words as weapons here and I can only hope that Alanis is turning over in her grave somewhere. Or is that just her career that’s dead?

Based on the movie series that redefined the action genre, Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb is what I like to call an interactive movie. It’s a decent little game but it has to be appreciated for its story as well which was developed specifically for this game with the help of the big man himself, George Lucas. He might have just brought the writers a burrito but at least he’s instrumental in bringing something to this production. Whatever that may be.

Before you get the feeling that I’m glowing all over this game let me warn you that there are a few issues that you may not be able to overlook. The graphics are not up to snuff, there are some control problems and it feels too linear. You should feel as though you’re part of the movie and not just playing it to unfold a predetermined sequence of events. Had the illusion of freedom of choice been more prominent this game could have surpassed a “good” rating.

Following the premise of the movie, Jones is an archeologist searching the world over for various artifacts rumored to give the possessor great, supernatural powers. The Nazis are also looking for these artifacts and will stop at nothing to foil Jones’ plan. He’s also keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t find them first. The year is 1935 and we’re talking about the Nazis here, not the Beverly Hillbillys.

Blending elements of platform, shooting, combat, puzzle and action/adventure, Jones travels to locations as diverse as Ceylon, Istanbul and Hong Kong, taking time to visit a few mines, caves, canyons and temples along the way. One of his coolest features is his whip. Like Daredevil or Spider-Man, he can use it to swing from various platforms as well as using it as a weapon. It takes more than a few lashes to eliminate an enemy which makes it almost useless when you’re surrounded. I haven’t been hit with a whip but I can guarantee that you wouldn’t have to crack my ass twice with it before I got the idea to mind my own damn business.

Guns are plentiful despite the fact that Jones didn’t use them in the movie, except for that one scene with the famous smartass comment that I won’t reveal in case you haven’t seen it and want to rent it. (Hey, I’m sure you can get it for free nowadays with the rental of a large pizza). From single-shot German Lugers to machine guns, Jones takes on all variety of enemies. Ammo is plentiful, the AI is fairly easy to kill although you have to whack at them many times each, and the puzzles won’t stump you for long, keeping the pace of the game moving along. Jones also has a huge selection of moves such as climbing, running, hanging, jumping, punching, blocking and rolls. The balance of combat is varied between hand-to-hand and weapon use, interspersed with a good mix of puzzles, platforms and cutscenes.

For the most part the graphics are just craptacular. They lack polish and shine. The backgrounds and the variety of textures display a marked attention to quality but the character models are basic and the animation is stiff and unnatural. Still, if the story captures your interest, these technicalities are superfluous thought there is no excuse for such shoddy craftsmanship. Be warned that there is no Surround Sound despite the fact that the music is great and the voiceacting is superb.

Isn’t it ironic that this videogame version based on the trailblazing movie should be considered adequate at best? Ironic, no. Unfortunate, yes. I hope you’ve learned something? If not, send us your resume.

System: PS2
Pub: Lucas Arts
Released: June 2003
Review by Cole