And we have to admit, the production values on the adventure game are top-notch, with some great cutscenes and all the dialog from the PC version. But ultimately Indy just falls short of greatness. While it's an excellent adventure game and one of the prettiest titles to ever appear on the N64, there's just not enough different from Tomb Raider to make it stand out as top-notch.
If this game had come out before Lara made her appearance several years ago, it would have been a revolutionary title that could have made LucasArts millions of dollars. Instead, Eidos reaps the rewards of Lara's adventuresome assets, and while everyone was calling the busty character an "Indiana Jones" rip-off, it appears that Indy just can't top her when it comes to a 3D platform adventure.
Indiana Jones looks fantastic -- with the 4MB Expansion Pak (the game plays without it, but the visuals are much better with it), it turns into one of the most beautiful games we've ever seen on the console. But looks can only get you so far. This game plays exactly like Tomb Raider, right down to the swimming motions and block-pulling.
The game starts off with Indy on a dig, and after players get used to the concept of whipping at certain objects to swing across chasms and dangling precariously from high precipices, he embarks on a trip to Babylon to stop the evil communists from unveiling a weapon that makes the atom bomb look like a firecracker. The voice over dialog from the PC version has been crammed into the game, and while it sounds pretty good (Factor 5 is, after all, a master of sound), the voice acting itself is simply laughable. We found ourselves chuckling out loud at some of the inane sentences coming out of some of the character's mouths. And since Harrison Ford didn't perform the voice of Indy for the game, it sounds, well, just plain weird.
Most of the game involves jumping from ledge to ledge, with the occasional firefight with a variety of weapons that Indy can pick up along the way. Indy also has to pick up treasures hidden along the way in alcoves and other out-of-the-way places. There are ten on each level, and the IQ (Indy Quotient) reports how well Indy is doing -- the more goodies he picks up, the more money players can spend on valuable items at the start of a mission, such as health packs and poison antidote.
The interface makes good use of the layout of the N64 controller -- players can use the left, right, and down C buttons to assign frequently used items, such as weapons, the whip, and the lighter (for brightening up dark caverns). The up C button is used for a first-person view to get a bead on Indy's surroundings before exploring further.
Really, the game is excellently designed, has some fun puzzles to solve, and is a beautiful world. The only problem is we've seen all this before, albeit on other systems. The game is definitely better than its marred PC counterpart, but that still doesn't make it anything more than a Tomb Raider clone. Factor 5 did a fantastic job bringing this game to the N64, and its work is to be commended -- but that doesn't make this a blockbuster game, merely a good one.