Gripping the soldier by his lapels, I drive my knee into his stomach and let him have it with a right-hook before throwing him back against the wall and delivering a quick one-two punch, flooring him. Turning about, I unhook my whip from my belt and disarm his compatriot with a quick snap, whipping the Mauser from his hand. After picking up the gun, I fire two shots into his stomach, before turning to the third and final soldier. I bumrush him, connecting my shoulder to his gut and lifting him off his feet, sending him sailing over the railing of the balcony on which the fight has occured. I bend down to retrieve my hat (which one of the soldiers knocked off with a well-timed punch) and move on.
This sort of thing is a pretty common occurance in the triumph of gaming that is Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb. Brought to you by the good people at The Collective by way of LucasArts, the game truly captures all the wit, charm, and cinematic action of the Indiana Jones movies, wrapping it up nicely in a sweet package of a game. The engine, called Slayer, comes courtesy of The Collective. Some of you may remember The Collective from their relatively well-received Buffy the Vampire Slayer brawler, which utilized a less polished version of the Slayer engine used in Indy. It seems they've truly found their element now, as the brawling action in Emperor's Tomb is cinematic, intuitive, easy-to-master, and a hell of a lot of fun.
When I first brought the game back to my dorm and began playing, my hallmates ended up clustered around the computer watching me play, cheering when I threw a smuggler into a river filled with crocodiles and jeering when another smuggler threw me down a flight of stairs. The action is fun and exciting, a perfect match for the classic Indiana Jones movies. One extremely nice touch is the inclusion of Indy lore: primarily, Indy's hat. If, during a fight, Indy's hat gets knocked off, you can go back and locate it and Indy will pick it up and put it back on. It's a fairly simple thing, but it's one of the things that really made the game for me.
The controls, though, are where the game truly shines. The game uses a context-based fighting system: what move is performed is based on what situation you are currently in and where you are in relation to the enemy, not just what sequence of buttons is pressed. If an enemy is behind you and you hit attack, you'll attack backwards automatically. This is the sort of thing I like to see. As opposed to complex controls more geared towards fighting games, Indy's controls feel like a brawler (and it is essentially brawler, and a fine one at that), but it's definitely a more intelligent brawler than I was used to.
The plot of the game is fairly traditional: Indiana Jones, after locating an artifact on a 'routine' adventure, is contacted by the Chinese government and asked to assist them in another matter. Along the way you'll encounter smugglers, ninjas, Nazis, Nazi robot superman, robots, and demons - all in all, a perfect line-up of foes for you to shoot, punch, and whip.
The game is plenty long, in a world of six-hour games: I was playing it for a good three or four days. Some of the levels are tricky and require slight puzzle solving, but it's all done in the Indy feel and runs smoothly. Speaking of running smoothly, the game runs beautifully and looks fantastic on even sub-par hardware. My 700mhz Athlon and Radeon 8500 128mb ran it without a single hitch.
The game may be short enough to be a rental for some people, but I for one am glad I bought it, even though there's little initial replay value. The game was fun enough that I wouldn't mind playing it a second time. A few of the 'boss' fights dragged just a little bit, but all is forgiven, fine people at The Collective.
All I can say is that LucasArts had better keep The Collective's phone number on speed dial. Another game this good and I might forgive LucasArts for Star Wars: Bounty Hunter.