When George Lucas and Steven Spielberg teamed up for Raiders of the Lost Ark, they created a movie that compensated for its lack of originality with state-of-the-art effects, a lively script, and a swashbuckling Harrison Ford. Now, two Indy sequels, an animated feature (The Land Before Time), and 14 years later, the duo have joined forces for The Dig (LucasArts, CD-ROM for PC, $49.95), with Lucas as founder-CEO of the multimedia company that produced it and Spielberg as its conceptualist. The result compensates for its lack of originality (based as it is on Myst, The 7th Guest, The Daedalus Encounter, and even another LucasArts title, Full Throttle) with.ordinary graphics, cliched writing, and a robotic vocal performance by Terminator 2 villain Robert Patrick.
What’s most mystifying about The Dig — in which astronauts sent to blow up a rogue asteroid are transported to a deserted planet — is why Spielberg and Lucas cut so many corners. The jerky animation seems cheap compared with the full-motion video in other games, a failing that might have been less noticeable had the producers hired some recognizable voice talent. Since there are long intervals in this game in which the protagonists do nothing but talk (when one bites it, The Dig stops dead for five minutes of such lines as ”I shouldn’t have let him go” and ”Then you’d be the dead one”), the contribution of, say, Harrison Ford would have been a definite improvement.
I don’t want to be too hard on The Dig. The story is engrossing enough, and the logic puzzles you must solve to get the heroes home are sufficiently mind-bending. But when I play a game from exceptional talents like Spielberg and Lucas, I expect an exceptional experience. You dig? C