It's a phenomenal idea to really put together a major "Indiana Jones" game, and developers The Collective ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer" - this game uses a modified "Buffy" engine) seemed like a good choice to put the adventure together. The game certainly does a lot of things right: the music is there, the tone is there (although not to the level that was achived with the latest Bond video game adventure, "Nightfire"), the voice actor sounds amazingly like Harrison Ford and the character looks like a younger Harrison Ford. However, there's a few issues with the game that really drag it down.
The game, like Buffy, is a third-person actioner where you guide Indy though various locales, fighting enemies, solving puzzles and searching for the Heart of the Dragon, a black pearl that can control the minds of men. Of course, Indy's not the only one searching for the pearl - Nazis and various gangs are also looking to get their hands on it. While I wasn't always thrilled with the imagination of the level design, the various locations - which are split into a few areas each - are pretty massive, and will provide quite a few hours of gameplay.
Indy has several weapon options, including various guns (although there's not much ammo to be found), his whip and even a shovel or bottles that are left behind. Indy also occasionally has to use his whip to cross gaps he's unable to jump across. The game will let players know when to use the whip with a little symbol that appears in the upper corner of the screen. There's also the option to knock weapons out of the hands of enemies using Indy's trusty whip. Players will also encounter some puzzles, but they're mainly the kind of thing where Indy finds a lever and a door opens. There's also quite a bit of swimming (although awkward to control), where Indy will have to deal with crocs and other creatures. I also very much liked the power-up system - Indy carries around a canteen, which he fills up at various fountains throughout the levels. When he's in need of a power-up, he stops for a drink, and when he's out of water, there's generally another water source not too far along.
While I found a lot to like about "Indy", there's some aspects of the game that just didn't sit well with me. Indy has a move where he lassoes his foe and pulls them towards a punch. It's a very cool move that looks neat in the game. However, like a few other attacks in the game, it takes what seems like ages for the enemy to finally go down and stay down. It's not realistic and it's rather irritating. Further problems occur in combat, as enemy AI can either be good (running behind walls only to pop out again) or bad (enemies seem confused, or don't follow as you run around the corner and attack them from behind).
Further problems can be found - the level design leaves a bit to be desired, for example. While generally good-looking, the game can occasionally start to feel rather repetitive; I can't see this game having a great deal of replay value. An interesting storyline could have made the game more involving, but the story here remains rather thin.
Overall, "Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb" dissapoints, because it really had the potential to be a terrific game. The combat controls well (although fighting can become tedious), the game manages to get the tone fairly well, but there's nothing really new or innovative about the presentation and some glitches and issues with the graphics make it suffer even more. There's some fun to be had here, but if the problems were fixed, it would have been a recommended purchase instead of just a weekend rental.
Graphics: The graphics of "Emperor's Tomb" are just satisfactory; there's some fine aspects to the game's appearance, but some issues, as well. To get the bad out of the way first: the game does suffer from some distracting collision detection problems and the framerate occasionally gets somewhat choppy. Indiana Jones looks well-rendered, and the character's animations look solid. However, the enemies are rather bland in appearance and most of them tend to look (literally) the same or awfully similar. The environments are rather good-looking from a distance, but there's just nothing about them that's that inspired and textures can look soft. Overall, the game just really doesn't take advantage of the XBOX's capabilities and appears rushed.
Sound: "Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb" is presented on the XBOX version in Dolby Digital 5.1. The game's sound design is generally pleasing, although it could have been more immersive. The surrounds are mainly used for ambience, although they occasionally have a little more to do. The classic John Williams score sounds marvelous, of course, and really goes a long way towards bringing some additional energy and spirit to the game. The voice acting on the part of the actor voicing Indy is excellent, but the bad guys have limited dialogue. Sound effects are decent, but sound rather flat.
The sound/score also seemed choppy at times, which certainly made the overall experience suffer when it occured. The surrounds could have been used quite a bit more for ambience and creepy, atmospheric sounds.
Gameplay: While I certainly did like the fighting control, as I mentioned before, the amount of hits the enemies take from a couple of the weapons made some of the game's fighting tedious. The camera also has some issues, but I really never felt that they were enough to affect gameplay.
Rating Issues: "Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb" is rated "T" (Teen) for the game's action sequences. There are quite a few action sequences, but nothing terribly graphic about them.
Final Thoughts: The conclusion of my review above sums up my thoughts about the game well - it should have been an easy recommendation instead of something only considering (and I'm not even sure how strongly) as a weekend rental. The game does have its moments and does have its positives, but the graphics are so-so, the combat is a mixed bag and, in general, I felt the game was just involving enough to proceed further.