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Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine

 
Box Cover

Developer: LucasArts (PC), Factor 5 (N64), HotGen (GBC)
Publisher: LucasArts (PC, N64), THQ (GBC)

Release date:
November 22, 1999 (PC), 2000 (N64), 2001 (GBC)

Project Leader: Hal Barwood
Written by:
Hal Barwood
Original Music by: Clint Bajakian
Production Manager: Wayne Cline
Lead Programmer: Paul D. LeFevre
Lead Level Designer: Steven Chen
Lead Artist: William V. Tiller
Package illustration by: Drew Struzan

Voices by:
Doug Lee ... Indiana Jones
Tasia Valenza ... Agent Sophia Hapgood
Victor Raider-Wexler ... Dr. Volodnikov
Bruce McGill ... Agent Simon Turner

Technical Info:
Platforms: PC Windows, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color

Genre: Action/Adventure game

Mode(s): Single-player

Engine: Modified Sith Engine (PC, N64)

 

After the success of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Indy fans waited in eager anticipation for a sequel. Lucasarts answered the call with news of a graphic adventure entitled Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny. These rumors were short lived and soon, any news of the sequel disappeared. Indy fans and gaming fans alike could only wait, much like the Star Wars fans waiting for news of a new film. A few years later, LucasArts released Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures and the Super Nintendo game Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures. These games, while very good in their own right, were hardly sequels to Fate of Atlantis.

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Box illustration
by Drew Struzan.

In 1996, a company named Eidos released a revolutionary game that centered on a video game character who has become more popular than Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog combined. The game was Tomb Raider and the character was Lara Croft. The game harnessed a powerful engine that allowed for the player to control Lara from a third person perspective while the virtual camera followed her every move and moved somewhat independently to add drama and suspense to this thoroughly engrossing game. Lara could walk, run, jump, roll, climb, grab, somersault, and look in all directions. The play control was simply stellar. The plot of the game was an Indy fan's dream come true. Lara Croft, an adventurer and ancient treasure seeker, was racing the corrupt Natla Corporation across the world in search of the fabled city of Atlantis (sound familiar?) and adventured her way through countless tombs and traps, pulling hidden levers and running from huge boulders, to find the city first.

This type of gaming format combined action and adventure gaming seamlessly. Real time game play was interwoven with items, levers, and puzzles. The game became a best seller in 1996 and Lara was seen as the female Indiana Jones. The game format was perfect for an "Indyesque" adventure and LucasArts saw the possibilities as much as the players did. They started development on Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine around the time that Tomb Raider II hit store shelves, but the game would go through a series of delays over the next few years. Luckily, these delays were well worth it. It is more than likely that the gaming team at LucasArts was watching the Tomb Raider franchise carefully and finding all of the kinks and unused potential to better develop Infernal Machine.

The game was finally released in November of 1999, almost the same week as Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (a.k.a. Tomb Raider IV). The ad campaigns for the game boasted that the original Tomb Raider was back and ready to take on Lara Croft. LucasArts even commissioned Drew Struzan to do artwork for the game to give it that classic Indiana Jones look and for a limited time, they released small bullwhips that were sold in blister cards alongside the game in stores. Additionally, the game was hyped as the sequel to Fate of Atlantis. Finally, the sequel had come!

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Solving puzzles and Indy's reunion with Sophie.
 
 

Story and Gameplay

The story is as follows. It is the year 1947. World War II has ended and eight years have passed since the events in Fate of Atlantis. Indiana Jones is now in the American Southwest on a traditional archaeological dig looking for potsherds and generally bored. Out of the blue, old flame and Fate of Atlantis veteran Sophia Hapgood appears. She tells Indy that she is now with the CIA and working against Communist Russia. She asks Indy to help her thwart the Russians in obtaining pieces of an ancient machine that, if rebuilt, could reach through space and time to new dimensions. Apparently, this machine was originally housed within the fabled Tower of Babel, but was scattered across the world in pieces. The Russians are looking for the pieces and Indy must beat them to punch.

From there, a truly wonderful game begins. The style of the game is exactly the same as the Tomb Raider series with one added bonus: You play as Indiana Jones. The graphics are crisp and well rendered and Indy looks better than he ever has in a video game. The detail LucasArts put into Indy is really impeccable. His shirt has the proper pleats, and his hat even turns up slightly at the brim sides just like the fedora in the films. The play control is excellent and easy to get the hang of. The levels are beautifully designed, varied, and challenging. Indy explores pyramids, temples, Russian boats, and caves searching for the Infernal Machine. The Russians make worthy successors to the Nazis as formidable enemies for Indy to thwart. A good dose of disgruntled wildlife is thrown in as well to keep Indy on his toes, including scorpions, sharks, and… Snakes.

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Indy literally travels around the globe in this adventure.
 
 

Conclusion

When I first got my hands on this game I was so afraid that the game would copy Tomb Raider too closely and there would not be any Indiana Jones spirit in the game, but I could not have been more wrong. It is very obvious that LucasArts was extremely meticulous in preserving Indiana Jones' character throughout the game. John Williams' Raiders' March plays at all the right moments, I believe that the voice of Indy is the same actor from Fate of Atlantis (which provides a sense of continuity), and Indy himself is not Lara Croft with a new mold. To be more specific, Indy doesn't run or jump like Lara Croft. Indy runs, well, like Indy!

When you play the game, you really feel like you are Indy because the developers took the time to inject the character from the films into the game. Unlike Lara Croft, when Indy jumps a ravine, he is not graceful. He jumps like he did in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Satipo refused to throw him the whip. When he whips a swing post, he looks just like he did in the Temple of Doom. LucasArts really studied Harrison Ford's physical acting when they rendered this sprite. Whereas Lara Croft relies exclusively on her guns for defense, Indy has his whip (which can disarm enemies), his Smith and Wesson, and his trusty fists should he encounter an unarmed opponent. Naturally there are a whole slew of other weapons to obtain as well. Also, the "Indy Quotient" returns in this game to give you a solid idea of how many secrets you found, how well you played the levels, or resolved conflicts.

The game is very engaging, with all of the Indy problems to overcome. You must traverse deep caves, dangerous trap-laden temples, and sometimes survive in the treacherous outdoors, with the Russians on your heels the entire time. The story is very well done and very worthy as an Indiana Jones adventure, but the game does have its drawbacks, mostly minor but existent nonetheless. Most of the criticisms I have of the game are ones of style. For example, it becomes very tiring to hear Indy exclaim "Ah ha! An idol!" every single time you find one. Also, for Indy to find a key, open the door with the key, and say, "I'll be damned. It opened!" makes him seem like a simpleton. The other small peeve I have with the game's style is the fact that Indy runs around without his jacket way too much. Almost ninety percent of the levels have Indy "jacketless" which, while being a small problem, bothered me all the same.

The game has other issues as well. For starters, what is the point of using the whip to disarm someone if they always get a few good deadly shots off before you can use it? It's better to use a gun before they do because there is no option in this game to talk your way out of a fight. As a result the whip and the fists become useless as weapons. Another problem I have with the game is the return of Sophia Hapgood. Why? Because every Indy adventure usually introduced a new heroine. That is what made Fate of Atlantis so fun because it was not Marion or Willie being recycled. It's not a big problem, but it would have been nice to introduce a new character. My biggest problem with the game ultimately was the entire third act of the story and the ending, but I am not one to give things away, so I'll say no more about that.

Overall, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine is an excellent game with wonderful play control, beautiful graphics, and bucket loads of Indiana Jones adventuring to enjoy. This is easily, in my opinion, the second best Indy game ever made with Fate of Atlantis winning the top spot by a small margin. It is certainly worth playing and every Indy fan who likes gaming should experience it. The game is currently available for the PC and N64, the latter of which has improved play control but slightly muddier graphics. A version for the GameBoy has been released as well. Get cracking. (MF)

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Jeep driving, mine cart and raft riding, you get to do it all.
 
 

Levels

Canyonlands
Babylon
Tian Shan River
Shambala Sanctuary
Palawan Lagoon
Palawan Volcano
Palawan Temple
Jeep Trek
Teotihuacan
Olmec Valley
V.I. Pudovkin
Meroe Pyramids
King Solomon's Mines
Nub's Tomb
Infernal Machine
Aetherium
Return to Peru (Bonus Level)
 
 

References & In-Jokes

On the map showing Indy's journey to Teotihuacan, both Melee Island from Secret of Monkey Island, and El Marrow from Grim Fandango can be seen. Both are adventure games also made by LucasArts.

Hidden Room #1: After Indy picks up the "Tool From Beyond" in the final chapter, a hole can be found at the bottom of one of the tunnels. This hole is the entrance to a 3D version of the Barbary Coast from LucasArts' Curse of Monkey Island. When looking around the room you'll also find photos of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Indiana Jones, a Raiders ghost and Jar-Jar Binks on the walls.

Hidden Chapter: After completing the game you can play a bonus level called "Return to Peru". In this level you return to the location and explore the cave from the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark again.

Hidden Room #2: The bonus "Return to Peru" level hides a second hidden room that can be found after whipping the Stone Head. Once the head falls and dislodged the giant boulder, go back and return to the Snake Cavern where you can now jump and climb to where the boulder once was. There you'll find a room on the right with five switches. Press the switches in this order - 4 5 3 1 2 - and you'll hear John Williams' famous Close Encounters of the Third Kind chimes. A door will open and you'll be able to enter a comfy room with a model of Devils Tower on a table. A reference to Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

 

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