Let's beat up some more Nazis!..
It's a licensed game based on a movie, and it's pretty good! That wasn't just an unprecedented example; it's also an achievement many other games failed to repeat.
This is also probably the first game to introduce the immortal LucasArts
system of optional dialogue lines. Surely, the usage of this great discovery is rather rudimentary here, and the dialogue is generally not very widely used. Besides, the emphasis here is not on the humorous side of those optional lines (like in Monkey Island
), but rather on the correctness of the answer: if you choose a wrong line, you can die.
Yes, this game is quite different from most other LucasArts
adventures: you can die here, and pretty often. There are some very tricky action sequences, especially the very hard ones near the end of the game (where you also can't save your game).
The gameplay is fluent, with frequent changes of scenery and locations. The puzzles are for the most part not too hard, though the game can become confusing thanks to occasional obscure tasks and mazes.
And it lets you beat up Nazis! I really enjoyed fighting the bastards. I preferred entering a combat with every single soldier and beating him up rather than solving a puzzle in order to surpass them. The possibility of choosing your own way to deal with them (and with some other situations as well)is probably the most interesting aspect of the game. It adds a bit of replay value to a representative of a genre that lacks it most.
Technically, the game is superb: stunning 256 colors VGA graphics, great sound effects and atmospheric (though unfortunately very sporadic) MIDI music. The controls are the famed SCUMM system; nothing original here, but slightly more comfortable to use than in earlier games such as Maniac Mansion
The game's narrative is very much on the naive side: black-white characters, simple plot, corny Holy Grail stuff (the same topic is treated much more interestingly and seriously in Gabriel Knight
games). It lacks the charisma of other adventure games by LucasArts. Playing this game is just like watching... well, an Indiana Jones
movie, of course.
The "movie to game" conversion problem becomes obvious when you compare the structure of Indy 3
to that of other adventure games made by the same company. It's hard to create a truly great game when you have to follow the schematics of a movie. The game is faithful to the movie, but the lack of creative freedom shows. Not only the story and the dialogues, but (more importantly) the gameplay suffers from being forced onto the events from the movie, unable to deviate from them. Zak McKracken
might have been too confusing, but it was a much more ambitious game, with a richer, more challenging gameplay. Even Maniac Mansion
had considerable degree of exploration and non-linearity, not to mention tricky puzzles. Indy 3
, on the other hand, is a very linear experience in which you follow a less-than-exciting plot, with puzzles being more similar to obstacles than to real challenges to your brain.
The combat is rather primitive, failing to make up for lack of solid puzzle design. And adventure game purists who can only accept LucasArts'
"you can't die or get stuck even if you are forced to listen to Kenny G records" design philosophy they developed later should definitely skip this one.
The Bottom Line
Well, it's an adventure game which is based on a blockbuster movie and does not
suck. That alone makes it a rare phenomenon. But if we honestly compare it to non-licensed LucasArts' products, we'll see the difference. It's an entertaining ride, but it lacks the scope, the ambition, and the gameplay finesse of other adventures made by this legendary company.