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Emperor's Tomb: Why it's Indy's best 3D adventure

A look back at one of Dr. Jones' finest gaming moments...

The blundering, off-the-cuff heroism of Indiana Jones is what makes the character so endearing. "I'm making this up as I go along," he explains to a concerned Sallah in Raiders Of The Lost Ark - a philosophy echoed brilliantly by The Collective's cruelly forgotten Indiana Jones And The Emperor's Tomb.

In it Indy uses anything to hand as a weapon; chairs, rocks, sticks, pots. You name it, he's smacking Nazis across the face with it.

Released in June 2003 within a whip crack of the abysmal Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness, Indy offered us everything Lara's new adventure didn't - namely big tombs to explore, elaborate puzzles to solve and a sensible control system that didn't make us want to throw ourselves headlong into a spike-filled trap.

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Set just before the events of The Temple Of Doom, Indy has been hired by the Chinese government to recover The Heart Of The Dragon, a valuable treasure hidden in the tomb of China's first emperor. His quest takes him on a whirlwind tour of the jungles of Sri Lanka, a Nazi castle in Prague, the rooftops of Istanbul, an opera house in Hong Kong and even Diyu, the Chinese equivalent of Hell.

The story might not be a patch on any of the films (except maybe Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, but the less said about that the better), yet it's entertaining enough and packed with twists, including the revelation that the government officials who hired you were actually working with the Nazis. We hate those guys.

By today's standards the textures are a bit muddy and the levels look blocky, but the tombs and temples are still incredibly atmospheric, especially with the score which was performed by a real orchestra and samples familiar tunes from the movies. Ford's likeness and voice are spot-on too - the result of a convincing sound-alike - and Indy's actions are all animated brilliantly. All of this adds to the feeling of being Indiana Jones.

ACTION HERO
But the real joy here is the action. Those improvised brawls we mentioned earlier are a thrill. The two-button combos are simple, but the execution is brutal. You can slam men against walls, sucker punch them, shatter chairs over their heads and drop kick them in the stomach. The slapdash scraps are classic Indy and the way the iconic Raiders March theme tune begins as you commence a fist fight is stirring, cinematic stuff.

You can, of course, use pistols, machine guns and your faithful whip, but socking a man in the jaw and kicking him off the edge of a cliff is always much more satisfying, and much truer to character. Your hat even falls off, and you can either pick it up and put back on or leave it until the next level.

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You might think it doesn't matter either way, but it's not long before an obsession to keep it on Indy's head develops, no matter what danger you're in. After one fight we spent five minutes desperately scouring the ground for our beloved fedora, only to realise that it hadn't fallen off and was in fact still on our head.

But when you aren't smacking people about, the game harks back to the original Tomb Raider, with enormous, mysterious temples and tombs to leap about and explore. The platforming is simplistic and, bar a few collision detection issues, it's as joyous to swing over gaps using the bullwhip as it is swinging a chair at some evil thug's face.

There's a bit of swimming too - most of which occurs in the incredible sunken palace level. This vast, cavernous catacomb is full of incredible architecture and devilishly tricky puzzles, some of which involve swimming through treacherous sunken passageways with a dwindling oxygen supply.

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