domingo, 7 de setembro de 2014

Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine [1999, PC/Windows] - It's a Pixel THING

Inside the box, with, by the way, a simple but superb illustration of Indy’s magnificence, we’ve got a jewel case containing the 2 CDs for its massive eight hundred megabytes of data for the full install of the game and, as well, its full color manual with the beautiful art of Drew Struzan, the guy responsible for the Indiana Jones, Stars Wars, Back to the Future, Harry Potter movie posters and also some of Alice Cooper’s cover albums.

Firstly, and in my honest opinion, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine is a huge overlooked gem.

Back in 1999, in a time where point-and-click adventure games have already died out its flame, Lucas Arts released the first 3D action adventure game based in Indy’s adventures. I remember that I was extremely anxious and really looking forward to grab this game at my first opportunity! And so I did!

Ok, you all know that I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan and that this game is kind of a poor Tomb Raider clone. But you have to agree that this in one hell of a good venture into the 3D action adventure game genre! Many people talks about how awkward the controls were, but I remember that this was also a problem in many 3D games of the time, Tomb Raider included.
The real facts are that Infernal Machine has an awesome and interesting story, capable of truly fantastic and memorable scenes and successfully captures the essence of Indiana Jones movies.

Remember Sophia Hapgood?.. Well, probably not like this!!.. You’ll most likely recognize her in this photo!.. Well, she’s back! And she’s with the CIA, now!

Project leader Hal Barwood, also responsible for Indiana Jones and The Fate of Atlantis point-and-click adventure game, originally planned this new Indy title to have a plot based in UFOs and extraterrestrials, but this idea was vetoed by George Lucas because, at that time, he was already thinking of a similar story for a fourth Indiana Jones movie, later subtitled, as everyone knows, The Kindgom of the Crystal Skull and only released nine years later, in 2008.
Infernal Machine’s story is set in 1947, after the end of World War II where Indy was involved. While in his dig site in the CanyonLands, Indy is approached by Sophia who tells him that the Soviets are excavating the ruins of Babylon. They are searching for a weapon more powerful than the atomic bomb that would give ‘em an advantage in the Cold War that had already begun. Then, Indy is hired by Sophia to investigate first hand taking us on a fabulous journey around the world through 16 levels from Kazakhstan to the Philippines, Mexico, Sudan and many others.

Basically, in each level we’re required to kill enemies, jump or climb from platform to platform and search for the exit to advance to the next level. It’s that simple. But its execution is amazing and each area feels unique and true to the Indiana Jones movies.

Graphics for today’s standards can look really poor, but, back in the day they were beautifully designed. The exterior may seem a bit artificial, but, indoors, the level of detail is amazing. Also, in my opinion, Indy actually resembles Harrison Ford and its voice acting is superb and faithful to the man in the hat who has got really smooth movement animations as well.

Level design is also magnificent and really can take us on this great quest. There are plenty of different situations and you won’t be easily bored.
Needless to say that the musical score, by Clint Bajakian, is great and based on the original “Raiders March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark soundtrack, by John Williams. As for the sound effects, it helps to add a lot more atmosphere to this great game. The crisp and clean voice overs of the soviet characters and weapon effects were really impressive at the time!

A Nintendo 64 improved version was available in North America and never released in Europe due to continuous delays. For the record, it was on development for too long, about nineteen months, and was only released a year after the PC version had hit the shelves. It also featured some new sequenced musical pieces by my all-time favorite composer: Chris Hülsbeck.

The game’s variety of puzzles received good reviews by the press and the inclusion of a hint system and the film quality-like cut scenes were even applauded. The controls, on the other hand, were a bit infuriating and stressful for many players. But, what’s the rush? With such a good story and beautiful landscapes to explore, this game is to be taken slow trying to enjoy every bit of it, ‘cause there’s even Easter eggs to find!

After playing this game I felt the urgent need to watch all Indy movies all over again!  See ya, guys! I’ll be back soon!...

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