Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Keith Stuart

Lashings of fun? Microsoft reveals new Indiana Jones game

Indiana Jones and the Great Circle.
Cinematic … Indiana Jones and the Great Circle. Photograph: Microsoft/MachineGames

History is not exactly littered with glittering Indiana Jones video games. The beautiful LucasArts adventure, The Fate of Atlantis; the pretty good Lego games; the decent Emporer’s Tomb; the presentable SNES side-scroller, Greatest Adventures … There have been good games, but few classics that transcend the brand like, say, Knights of the Old Republic. Maybe that’s about to change.

During Microsoft’s latest Developer Direct online event, streamed on Thursday evening, we saw a 12-minute preview of Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, a globe-trotting first-person adventure, set between Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Last Crusade. The project was revealed three years ago, but this is the first footage we’ve seen, and it’s promising stuff. It has Nazis, it has a whip, it has Dr Jones in deserts, in tombs and arguing with Denholm Elliott in fusty college buildings; and it has a story involving a stolen artefact that is somehow linked to an international network of ancient monuments all of which align with a circle spanning the world.

Indiana Jones and the Great Circle.
Indiana Jones and the Great Circle. Photograph: Microsoft/MachineGames

Interestingly, a lot of the lengthy promo video shown during the event is given over to the developer MachineGames explaining why the game uses the first-person perspective. “Our game is all about putting you in Indie’s shoes, letting you see what he sees and feel what he feels,” says senior narrative designer Edward Curtis-Sivess. “For us at MachineGames, we do that best in first-person. We believe being up close and personal to the adventure is key.” The concern is possibly that the look of Indiana Jones is so iconic, fans will miss seeing him loping about on the screen. Indeed, the two major game franchises most in debt to Raiders of the Lost Ark – Uncharted and Tomb Raider – both use a third-person perspective to mimic the cinematic feel of the Indy series.

Indeed this game is going to have a hell of a job crawling out from beneath the legacies of those two franchises. They’ve both done the cinematic puzzle-filled action-adventure genre, setting up many of its conventions. In The Great Circle, for example, Indy is accompanied by a headstrong journalist named Gina Lombardi, echoing Nathan Drake’s partner in colonial crime, Elena Fisher. It also looks like there will be some environmental puzzles, with one section taking place in a tomb where stone cogs have to be placed, probably to open a door – which will look very familiar to anyone who’s played, say, Uncharted 3, Tomb Raider: Anniversary or any number of Indiana Jones-inspired adventures. The video also promises multiple routes through major set-piece locations, with the opportunity to sneak about and study enemy patrol routes. Again, Nathan and Lara have been doing this for years.

But this is MachineGames, which brilliantly rebooted the Wolfenstein series – it’s a studio used to taking established concepts and adding a weird new spin. For those worried about not seeing Indie onscreen, this team brought real detail and character to the protagonist BJ Blazkowicz even though he’s rarely seen in the game. And we are going to see Indy. The video stresses that the camera will pan out to third person at certain sections of the gameplay, and of course there’s a very convincing Harrison Ford model present during the cut-scenes. The character is also being skilfully voiced by video game acting royalty, Troy Baker, best known as Joel from The Last of Us.

Indiana Jones and the Great Circle.
Indiana Jones and the Great Circle. Photograph: Microsoft/MachineGames

What’s more promising, however, is the implementation of classic Indy tropes. It looks like his whip can be used as a traversal device as well as a weapon, and we’re getting authentic fistfights with those thundering punch sound effects. Plus, the hubristic Nazi antagonist Emmerich Voss is classic Indy fare. It’s also great to see a role for horror movie stalwart Tony Todd who is seen at the beginning of the game stealing a seemingly minor artefact from Indy’s workplace, Marshall College.

It seems unfair that The Great Circle will have to fight with two games that have plundered the Indiana Jones treasury of ideas, images and action. But what it has, of course, is the Lucasfilm legacy – the character and his universe, the whip, that score and decades of goodwill. Plus MachineGames is a genuinely interesting studio not afraid of compelling, idiosyncratic ideas. If Indy is to triumph over his young usurpers, he’ll need plenty of them.

• Indiana Jones and the Great Circle is due for release later this year on Xbox and PC

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.