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Game Daze: 'Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb' and 'Kung Fu Chaos'

Friday, March 14, 2003

By Jonathan Silver, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

'Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb'

We just couldn't resist.

There we were, playing as Indiana Jones, confronting a knife-wielding henchman in an alleyway in 1930s Istanbul.

Did we go toe to toe with him wielding our machete? Crack our handy bullwhip to disarm him? Wallop him with a left hook followed by a head butt? Of course not! We simply drew our revolver and made it quick and easy.

Now that's Indy style!

Featuring combat options galore, exotic locales, a quest that rings true to the character's mythos, and a mix of third-person action, platforming and puzzle-solving, "Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb" (LucasArts; Xbox; $49.99; Rated Teen) is a nonstop adventure that succeeds mightily despite graphics flaws, a predictable plot and a mundane assortment of villains.

In the game, Indy is hired by a businessman to race against the Nazis and the Asian underworld to retrieve an artifact that has the power to control minds. His quest takes him to 10 unique locations around the world.

Once Indy sets out, he's drawn to Prague and its magnificent castle, a level that exemplifies the best of what the game has to offer.

Leaping over chasms only to grasp hold of a ledge by his fingertips, wriggling up and down long lengths of chain, swinging through stained-glass windows and using his whip to latch onto hooks and carry him to otherwise inaccessible spots, Indy has the run of the place.

It's a beautiful thing to espy a faraway parapet and then figure out a way to actually end up standing on it. Being able to move through the levels like that imbues "Indiana Jones" with a palpable sense of place.

Add to this the character's larger-than-life ability to clobber foes and demolish furniture (he can chop down suits of armor with his bare hands, eliciting a satisfying cymbal crash of sound) and we can forgive the fact that, even on an Xbox, the game sometimes slows or freezes. As well, in a not infrequent occurrence, Indy's body parts will actually float through walls, people and any number of objects.

Minor annoyances, though, we assure you. Get that whip cracking!

'Kung Fu Chaos'

Best described as a martial arts side-scroller with enhanced graphics, "Kung Fu Chaos" (Microsoft; Xbox; $49.99; rated Teen) allows you to play one of eight different warriors starring in a movie shot by irritating director Shao Ting (shouting, get it?).

Armed with 23 combination moves and the ability to taunt opponents so you can suck up power for a super attack, your odd-looking little character battles through each scene to the director's praise or disappointment. At the end, you watch the clip, much like in "Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver."

In between scenes, you try your hand at mini games, such as saving stuntmen falling out of windows or leaping over spinning poles while standing atop a pillar.

We won't deny, this game is fun. But we predict it will appeal to a niche audience that enjoys button-mashing and arcade-style side-scrollers.

Once you get the hang of it there's plenty of repetition (think "Enter the Draggin' ") despite the myriad of clever levels. The characters are too small and swift for us to enjoy their martial arts moves. And we must mention another turnoff -- the nonstop droning of the director in his overwrought stereotypical Asian accent which, thankfully, can be disabled.

Click here for an archive of previous Interact articles

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