The Story So Far
It's 1947, and the Cold War has begun. Soviet agents have been seen sniffing around the ruins of the Tower of Babel. No-one knows what they are doing there. The CIA are most concerned, and want Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones Jnr, to find out just what is going on.
As it turns out, they are in search of a weapon to tip the balance of power in their favour - The Infernal Machine.
The Bible describes the Tower Of Babel as a failed attempt to reach heaven. Gennadi Volodnikov, an extravagent Russian scholar, is convinced that the tower houses a machine that can reach across time and space, inspired by the winged god Marduk.
When this machine was set in motion originally it startled the Babylonians. They then crushed the tower, scattering four of Marduk's disciples (and the machine parts) to the far corners of the globe.
It is your job to find these machine parts before the Russians do. So grab your whip, it's time for adventure!
LucasArts adventure games have always traditionally been of the point and click variety. Indeed the precursor to this game, "Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis", was perhaps one of their finest adventures.
The Infernal Machine throws off the shackles of the point and click, and throws you into a Tomb Raider style 3D romp.
One thing you will notice straight away is that you are closer to the main character than in other third person games. This takes a little getting used to, and feels quite claustrophobic at first.
And when Indy backs into the scenery, the camera angle doesn't swing to compensate, instead Indy will disappear so you can see exactly where you are. Again, this takes a while to get used to, but ultimately it is better than the blind jumps forced on you in many other games.
You begin with your whip and a pistol with unlimited ammo. As you progress through the game though you will collect an impressive arsenal, including a shotgun, grenades, and even a bazooka!
Strewn throughout the levels are health items, gems, and other treasures. The money made from the treasure can be used to buy more heath, ammo, and other items in-between levels.
Leading me nicely to the levels... Quite frankly, they are huge!
It would be quite easy with levels this big for boredom to set in, but this is where the design really comes into it's own. There wasn't one point in the entire game where I tired of a level, even though some have you backtracking time and again.
There's one level that is based around a giant clock which you have to get working. The attention to detail is astonishing - it's a real Crystal Maze type of puzzle. You can see the cogs, but you don't know what switch to activate, or which lever to pull. Once you discover one bit, there's something else that you've still not done! And so on...
There are many locations you are taken to within The Infernal Machine. There's a tropical island, complete with rope bridges, lizards, and traps. Feel the heat as our intrepid hero plunges into the depths of a volcano. Indy even does a little tomb raiding in one of the finest puzzles of the game. There are seventeen of these levels to get through!
Graphics and Sound
The Infernal Machine has to be one of the best looking third person adventures I've seen. LucasArts haven't been frightened to lavish the game in colour, and as a result it never gets bland. Some of the locations are simply stunning. I defy you not to be impressed by the pyramids of Meroe.
Every cutscene utilises the main 3D engine, which works remarkably well, bordering on film quality at times. The engine also has its subtleties too. For example, walk into a gloomy alcove and ignite your cigarette lighter. See how the room glows convincingly.
Sound is also used very well. Ambient sounds are used to good effect, particularly in the tropical and tomb sections. And Indy will tell you what he has picked up, why he can't open this, why he can't unlock that...
The pickup advice can get very annoying after a while though - you don't need to be told that you've picked up some medicine for the millionth time!
John Williams music cuts in at appropriate moments, further enhancing the motion picture feeling of the game. Whip swing across a large gap and you are accompanied by the first few notes of the famous Indiana Jones theme music. Ace stuff!
It isn't all gasping in wonderment though!
The control system can be psycho rage inducing at times, with frequent misreading of your position resulting in you jumping rather than climbing. This is particularly annoying when you try to ascend a ladder, and all he keeps doing is jumping!
Indy also gets stuck in seemingly easy to negotiate sections of terrain, resulting in you having to walk around what seems to be a perfectly scalable surface.
Most infuriating of all though is Indy's persistence in placing his hat on his head after swimming in water. This little process takes a whole second, and while this is happening piranhas can still bite your heels, and you are a sitting duck for the Russian soldiers.
It's amusing to watch at first, but can result in needless energy loss.
Indy's latest outing is his best yet. It was going to take something special to better Fate of Atlantis, and LucasArts haven't disappointed. The sheer size of the levels and the variety of the terrain within is awesome.
You get a real feeling of being part of a big blockbuster movie. The plot is excellently woven, and unfolds beautifully from level to level.
The game will take you from basic shoot-outs with the Russian soldiers to scratching your head at one of the game's many puzzles. The puzzles themselves are in the main very simple, but there are one or two real brainteasers in there.
Graphically this game is a real treat as well. Intricate clockworks spin convincingly in the Shambala Sanctuary, and light bursts in from the rooftops quite gloriously when solving the puzzles of Teotihuacan.
Music keeps the film mood going with short classical pieces accompanying a brush with death or a new location discovery. Excellent background sound gives a good feeling of life going on around you.
The control system can be infuriating at times, but it doesn't go anywhere near to spoiling what is otherwise a fantastic adventure.
The only real downside is completing the game, and then wishing it could go on for much much longer...
Download The Demo
Try before you buy! Download the Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine demo (35.7Mb).