Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings Review
Written By Stephen Heller
It seems that the build-up never really pays off for Indiana Jones fans. Last year saw the release of the first Indy film in 19 years, and brought with it pain and heartbreak for many. It showed promise but ended up being poorly executed, and unfortunately while Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings shows a lot of promise, poor execution lets down what could have been a fantastic adventure title.
The plot certainly puts the latest movie to shame. You play as Indy as he wanders the globe in search of the Staff of Moses. It’s 1939 so you are battling his old pals the Nazi’s along with a rival archeologist that is also after the staff. It borrows formula from Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade, but still offers some originality of its own. For fans of the series the plotline will be predictable, but it never feels stale or old, in fact it will manage to ignite some memories from the movies in the series, and that’s what Staff of Kings does well, it feels like another adventure in the life of Indiana Jones, not just a game. Indy’s voice actor does a fantastic job sounding the part, but unfortunately is served up some pretty average dialogue. That aside, Staff of Kings has definitely captured the essence of an Indiana Jones film, much better than previous 3D adventures in the series have before it.
Unfortunately once you jump into the game you will realize you are in for one hell of a struggle. The game relies too heavily on “waggle” controls, and more often than not you will be cursing in frustration that Indy pulled off a right hook instead of whipping an enemy from afar.
Your basic running, jumping is done via face buttons and the control stick, but every combat action is completed with some form of waggle motion, which not only gets tired fast, but more often than not is totally inaccurate. It’s such a shame as Staff of Kings offers some of the best combat action we have been offered in recent times. Nothing can compare to throwing a chair at an enemy before whipping them around their neck to pull them in for a few punches, and then smashing their head into a fish tank. Environments are littered with weapons ranging from bats, to bottles, to garbage can lids to bookshelves, you name it, there will always be some out of the ordinary fun way to take care of your enemies.
This is backed up by first person, on the rails style shooting segments that can be a bit of fun, yet you can’t help but feel like it’s severely lacking. Having said that, the controls in this segment are tight and feel great, and are certainly less frustrating than the normal combat can be at times.Action is once again broken up by numerous other sequences that have you piloting aircraft using your wiimote, and those beloved quicktime events make a re-appearance quite regularly.
Almost as annoying as the inaccuracy of the controls is the seemingly random checkpoint system. A lot of the time you will die and respawn at a point where you have to complete a bunch of seemingly basic segments such as swing across this ledge, jump to that one, before you get to where you last died, just to die again. What’s even more frustrating is that cutscenes or tutorial videos cannot be skipped, and at times you will wind up going through the “How To Shoot” tutorial five or six times before passing the stage. It’s frustrating and a poor design choice that can cause the user to totally lose their minds at times.
Staff of Kings isn’t a “next gen” title, the Wii version looks as if it was lifted directly from the PS2 era, which is a real let down considering we know the Wii is capable of so much more. The backgrounds are fuzzy and textures are often rather bland and blurry. Indy’s animations are fluid but all the other characters models and animation are really lacking.
The game features a co-op two player experience where player one controls Indy and player two controls his father Henry Jones. The puzzles don’t relate directly to the single player experience but it’s a fun way to kill a few hours with a friend. The best feature though is the inclusion of the 1992 Lucasart classic Indiana Jones and the Fate Of Atlantis, one of the best point and click adventures ever made. After you’ve beaten the six hour single player experience, you have one of the best adventure games waiting for you, which will last you another six or more hours.
The Final Verdict
Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings shows a lot of promise in the deep and fun combat it provides, but it let down by its sloppy controls which rely too heavily of inaccurate “waggle” motions. The story is solid and the voice acting is top notch, but bad controls along with sub-par graphics really make this title only for fans. But if you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing Fate of Atlantis back in the day, this might be worth a purchase just for that!