SummaryWorks as a licensed game, but weak by LucasArts adventure standards
The GoodIt's a licensed game based on a movie, and it's not bad! 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 BadIf I'm not mistaken, this was LucasArts' first attempt at a licensed game, and the results are mixed. I think they were feeling too confined by the requirements of the license, and made a game that took only a few liberties with the source material. The linear, streamlined plot of an action movie made it impossible to create a vast world with varied and elaborate tasks, which the developers succeeded in doing in almost every other adventure they made.
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. 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. This game, 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.
Like the movie, the game's plot is very much on the naive side: black-white characters, simple plot, corny Holy Grail stuff, etc. It lacks the charisma and the typical warmth of other adventure games made by LucasArts. Playing this game is just like watching an Indiana Jones movie, which is fun for the fans, but not particularly thrilling for those just looking for a good adventure.
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 LineWell, 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.