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Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine: And the Frustrating Control

Company: LucasArts

I got a chance to spend some time with the upcoming LucasArts N64 release, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, and I must say that I was disappointed. Not with what I saw, but in the way it handled. Let me first say that I have been eagerly awaiting this title since the time it was due to make an appearance on the PSX. I love 3rd person action/adventure, and I love Indiana Jones. I just knew that this was going to be the game for me. When I popped the cartridge in, I was greeted with lush graphics and wonderful ambient sound effects. Now, true, this guy sounded like someone -trying- to be Indiana Jones (which is precisely what we have here), so a little bit was lost in that respect, but overall, the presentation was top notch.

I eagerly began my journey as Indy, and that is where the disappointment began. How does one control this guy? It was bad. Just running about and climbing ladders and such didn?t present all that much trouble, but then I encountered an area where I needed to use my trusty whip. Cut to in-game graphics of Indy looking above and saying something about needing his whip. Hmm. Ok, I think. They are easing me into getting used to the whip feature. I progress further and come to an area where I really can?t figure out where to go. I search all around and see that there are places that look perfect for me to latch onto and swing across with me whip. So I try and try, but I can?t activate my whip. Where?s that handy little FMV of Indy taking over for me when I need it most? Well, it turns out that I didn?t need to do that at all. And this is another thing that bothered me about Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. At times, it was very unclear as to where Indy should be going and what he should be doing. Now, I am not asking for strictly linear gameplay here, but a little more definition would have been nice.

So on I go, and then an enemy pops up. A handy little indicator locks onto him, and using the Z-lock system a la Zelda, I easily dispense with him. This was a nice feature. At times, I did find it to be slightly awkward, but overall it was good. The menu system, on the other hand, was quite cumbersome. Yes, it looked good, but the swapping out of items didn?t seem to make much sense. It was basically a case of keep hitting buttons until the gun or whip or whatever you need pops into Indy?s hand. This is not good when you are faced with an enemy hot on your tail, and you accidentally whip out a flashlight to assault him with. Not good at all. So then I come to a series of jumps. These aren?t monumental jumps, mind you. Typical Lara Croft fare. But I fall. And I fall again. And again. When Indy makes that jump, he flounders about in mid-air like he is having an epileptic seizure and misses the catch time and again. Now, if I was a beginner, maybe. But I can play Tomb Raider and the likes in my sleep. Simply put, Indiana is hard to control; during jumps and things of a more precise nature more so, but just really hard to control in general. Finally, I gave up and went on to a different level (such is the beauty of a ROM). But had I been someone who had purchased this game, I would have been disappointed. There was another point where I found myself in the water, swimming around a coral reef. Gorgeous, I think to myself. But then a shark comes after me and I try to get out of the water, but I can?t. What is this? No matter what I tried, Indy would not climb out of the water. I watched him die through a combination of drowning and being eaten by a shark. And I was happy. It is always frustrating to sit there yelling at your onscreen character, desperately wanting them to do something that they won?t.

And such is the major downfall of Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine: hideously frustrating control. To have to say these things about a game I wanted to be so incredible truly hurts. I marveled at its beauty and spectacular sound effects. There were some rather unique features in the game, but the bad control made them null and void in my mind. If you are a fan of 3rd person action/adventure and Indiana Jones in general, rent this game. Play through the first three or four levels. If you love it, buy it. If the control is not a problem for you, then you?ll have yourself one hell of an adventure game with beautiful and intriguing levels. If, on the other hand, you throw your controller down in sheer frustration, stay far away. And hope for a more refined iteration of the Indiana Jones franchise to pop up later on down the road. With so much crammed into this game, I can only hope that LucasArts doesn?t stop here. It could be so much more.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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