When the first Tomb Raider game came out, a lot of gamers were of the opinion that developers Core Design essentially created a game out of the Indiana Jones movie franchise and put Lara Croft in place of everyone’s favorite whip-cracking adventurer.
In a strange turn of events, LucasArts would later return the favor and create a game that essentially replicated the feel of the Tomb Raider series with Indiana Jones and The Infernal Machine.
Luckily, LucasArts turned to its trusted ally Factor 5, who had previously worked on the Star Wars games, to bring the Indiana Jones adventure to the. The result was a version of Indiana Jones and The Infernal Machine that kept all of the good things about the PC version and managed to eliminate most of the frustrating aspects of it. The game looks as good as it did on the PC and features a complete redesign of the control system making it much more tight and responsive. It’s certainly not without its flaws, but The Infernal Machine is a rollicking adventure game that can hold its own against the Tomb Raider series.
Features Indy’s old pal Sophia Hapgood (who is now working for the CIA) bringing news that Soviet forces are looking for the Tower of Babel. Within the structure lies a machine that can open a portal to a different dimension. However, parts of the machine are scattered all over the globe and thus begins a cat and mouse game between Indiana Jones and the Soviet forces to collect all of the missing pieces.
Will feel absolutely familiar if you have played a Tomb Raider game before. There’s not much in the way of original game design here, but The Infernal Machine does pack enough good things into the formula to keep the proceedings interesting. Through the 17 odd levels on your journey, you will have to solve puzzles, collect artifacts and take down enemies using guns, machetes, shotguns and even supernatural powers occasionally. There’s also plenty of vehicular sections with boats and jeeps. When you’re not driving, you’ll be doing the standard jump, swing and slide routine to get across levels. The PC version of the game made using simple tasks like using weapons quite tedious because they were all assigned to different keys. On the N64, Factor 5 have taken the ole Ocarina of Time formula and used the C-left, C-right, C-up and C-down to map the whip, guns, lighter and free look respectively. Also included is the ability to lock onto foes, allowing you to strafe around a particular enemy and keep attacking it.
Some of the shortcomings of the Tomb Raider formula find their way into this game as well. Like Lara Croft, Indiana Jones moves slowly and at odd geometric angles. You’ll need to be perfectly aligned in the direction that is appropriate for a particular jump or ledge grab to hit it perfectly. Even then, sometimes you’ll hit the edge and fall off inexplicably. Learning how to work within these limitations takes a certain amount of patience, especially when you’ll get caught against a rock or stuck inside a part of the level geometry leaving you no option but to reset the level. Fortunately, these occurrences are rare.
Just like the PC version, the levels are massive and hide a lot of secrets and hidden passages. You’ll need to maneuver your way around tigers, hyenas, sudden rock breaks, use magic to break through walls, fight undead Russians and escape the poisonous clutches of reptiles and nasty insects. You’ll across snow-clad mountains, dense forests, claustrophobic underwater levels and pyramids on your way to collecting all the pieces of the magical device. The level variety is great and keeps things fresh all the way through. In addition, you are rewarded with an IQ boost and new unlocks each time you collect one of the pieces of treasure hidden in the levels.
The Nerdy Stuff:
The graphics are great and make the journey feel exciting and epic, as you would expect from an Indiana Jones adventure. Developers Factor 5 have actually managed to improve the graphics in certain aspects from the PC version. The levels look great and feel suitably huge and mysterious. The only drawback is the animation system and the way Indy himself moves. The sound design is great too, complemented by top-notch voice acting.
Indiana Jones and The Infernal Machine is the puzzle-exploration extravaganza that N64 owners were waiting for. While there’s no Tomb Raider game for the system, Indiana’s adventures and a challenging campaign are a great substitute. With improved visuals, a tight control system and a beefy campaign, this is the game to get if you’re interested in watching Indy crack his whip through another wonderful adventure.
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