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Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine

A "Commie-Kazi" Adventure

by Jim Bray

LucasArts' latest Indiana Jones adventure goes beyond the archaeologist's well-known Nazi baiting and into a Cold War adventure that sees him "Russian" to the ancient Tower of Babel (among other places) to foil the commies' evil intent.

Part of their intent involves exploiting the infernal machine of the title. It appears that the title doohickey was far too advanced for the Babylonians, which could mean it has other and possibly more significant and/or dangerous uses. Better, then, for Indy to make sure it doesn't fall into the hands of those world-dominating Soviets, right?

The resulting trip is a nifty one, with all the things one loves about the Indiana Jones adventures: whip cracking excitement, brain teasing puzzles, action, really mean bad guys, and with a hero YOU can control instead of merely watching passively on the big screen.

Indy and Snakes

The story line takes Indy all over the place, from the hot climes of the Babylon ruins to cold snowscapes and everything in between, pitting him against all manner of men, machines, and beasts including, unfortunately, snakes. You may not see some of these critters when they first show up yapping at your heels (or whatever), but you'll know they're there when your life strength starts sapping mysteriously.

You begin the game armed with Indy's famous whip and pistol, and as with most other games of this type you pick up a veritable arsenal along the way.

The controls work reasonably well, though you could describe them as clunky without overstating the case..They let you walk, run, climb, leap, swim (don't forgot to come up for air!) through the very nicely rendered 3D landscapes.

The first level takes place in a set of canyons through which Indy must navigate and is kind of a primer for the game. In fact, the LucasArts website has a walkthrough for this section of the game, and between it and your own poking around it's a pretty good introduction to the game, its features, and its controls.

At the end of the level the CIA shows up and the story really gets under way as Indy's sent on his way.

One thing we found interesting was how you can (indeed, must) at times use the whip to swing across drops that would otherwise be very quick ways to end your pursuit of the Damned Machine. It takes a while to get onto the nuances of when and how to use the whip, but it works well when you have the hang of it.

In the course of the game you're also required to solve a variety of puzzles, and they can be real brain teasers. They include the reconstruction of wrecked buildings, finding a path through buildings or from other Points A" to "Points B" - even when both are in plain sight

A handy feature on the overlay map is "hints," which brings up and "X" indicating the section for which you should head next - assuming you can get through the section you're trying.

On the whole, Indy and the Infernal machine doesn't appear to be a breakthrough in gaming technology, and we found the controls frustrating (though not as bad as "Star Wars Episode One The Phantom Menace's") but the audio and video quality are very good and the game itself is a lot of fun - and a stretch for your brainpower.

So this may not go down in history as one of LucasArts' best efforts, but it's a fine adventure for your keyboard and your mind anyway.


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January 31, 2006