Written by  :  RussS (821)
Written on  :  Jan 03, 2011
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars

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Summary

A parody of the film that's definitely funny, but not a complete playing experience.

The Good

It's difficult to write a review of this game as a stand alone entity as it's so heavily tied into the film. The manual explicitly recommends seeing the film first and even provides a synopsis of the story, including the dramatic twists and what happens at the end.

The game then unfurls like a parody. It recreates certain scenes from the film with a loose explanation of progression as it assumes you know what's going on anyway. Not that it always sticks exactly to the story, often events happen for different reasons and being a game it can tell the story in a different way. For example at the end the game can show the effects of drinking from the wrong grail on Indy, rather than Donovan as you can always reload and try again. Instead Donovan meets a different fate.

The story is also heavily abridged, gone are Sallah, the tank scene, and the Brotherhood. Instead certain scenes are greatly expanded to add some typical adventure elements, now the Venice catacombs are a maze, as is the Zeppelin. Where the story does differ, it is often used as a humorous point, with a sarcastic remark or with Marcus apparently filling in for Indy. He turns up in Venice dripping wet and later with tank marks on him. This self-referential nod is good and exemplifies the light-hearted tone of the whole game. Die at the final trial and Indy mutters comical phrase when you re-start about having to go through the sequence again.

The puzzles are well though out and typically hard, often requiring a lot of to-and-fro-ing to complete. I found the castle Brunwald sequence to be the longest, requiring mush traipsing and re-loading to get it correct. Several of the puzzles seem to implement a couple of alternative solutions, which is innovative for the time. I've read that you can complete the game without fighting, but I didn't seem to get much chance to avoid it. Still, this is Indiana Jones and fighting is never far away. I did get a little excited to see him using the whip to swing across a gap

The graphics are good for their time and provide a lot of richness. The locations are all distinct though Castle Brunwald does get very repetitive. The characters all have the typical Lucasarts animation style; quite cartoon-like but very expressive making the most of the limited size.

The Bad

It's a shame that the game doesn't seem to be able to tell the narrative by itself. It is a parody of the film rather than it's own entity. I suppose the memory limits of the time had an effect, the locations are few and the sounds are sparse. Often there's only short musical cues and the odd sound effect to bring a location to life. It ends up feeling like a collection of 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' puzzles more than a narrative adventure game.

Those puzzles can be baffling too. Often Indy says a hint, but that too can be baffling and I found myself in a classic adventure game conundrum of being unable to translate what I wanted to do into game commands. I expected this due to the games age, as it displays many loop-holes which have been subsequently closed. The principle one being in the SCUMM engine. Being the third game to use the engine it seems still heavily influenced by text adventures, including the pointless 'what is' command, needed to identify hot spots on the screen. It took the first fifth of the game to fully get used to the old style interface.

One much loved feature of the game is the Grail Diary which came in the box. This printed book contains information necessary to completing the game. In the game Indy carries his computer copy too. Unfortunately these two copies do not match and the computer version contains information not found in the print version, which caused me some trouble. You can only look at the computerised Grail Diary at certain points, so there's no chance just to casually peruse it to spot this.

The Bottom Line

This wasn't quite the adventure classic I had expected it to be, that honour belongs to it's successor, 'Fate of Atlantis'. Instead this is a parody for those who have seen the film. It is a good well conceived parody, but often forgets narrative exposition, relying on familiarity with the film to know why you're doing something. Instead it focuses on puzzles trying to strike a balance between mazes and inventory. The multiple solutions are nice though often result in resorting to the lowest common denominator (fists) to succeed. In only the 'clever' solution weren't so obscure.