Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings
We've been waiting a long, long time for a new Indiana Jones videogame
adventure. A few years back at E3, we were given a bit of a taste of a new
Indy game on next-gen, but it never came to fruition. Then we were all
exposed to the dreadful cinematic bowel movement known as Indiana
Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which left fans absolutely
Now Indy's back, and he's cracking his whip on Wii, in a waggle-fest that's
sure to leave you in aching arms. The time 'round, Indy's looking for the
biblical staff of Moses, and as you'd suspect, the Nazis want it too, hoping
to turn the tides of the war. So it's off on a globe-trotting adventure in true
Indy style, but it seems something got lost in translation.
I really wanted to like Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings, but the
Wiimote/Nunchuck waggle combat system, while great in theory, doesn't
pan out. Holding the controllers in your fists, you can get Indy to pull off
left and right jabs, hooks, and uppercuts by swinging in different
directions. Similarly, you press 'B' and let loose with a three-way swing of
the Wiimote to unleash a trio of whip attacks. Then add interactive
elements into the environment which can be used against opponents by
pressing the 'A' button and you have a lot going on, particularly when
fighting multiple opponents.
To make matters worse, some opponents are immune to particular
attacks, and the only way to find out what is through trial and error. This
meant that Indy died on countless occasions as I tried to discover how to
defeat each type of foe in a large brawl. This wouldn't be too bad, but all
too often checkpoint placement meant that I was repeatedly retreading
the same sections leading up to the point where I carked it.
Additionally, the shooting sections had similar issues. There was a
Chinatown level early in the game where multiple enemies are shooting at
Indy. The only way to tell what you needed to shoot at was by looking at
the aiming reticule which would turn green on shootable items. The
problem was that, some of the enemies were actually bulletproof and
needed to be taken down by other means, which meant more trial and
error, while taking hits to Indy's health bar. This became extremely
frustrating at times, sucking much of the fun out of what should have been
an enjoyable pulp adventure.
The game itself looks authentic enough. The visuals look solid - Indy's
looking young and in his prime - and there are some nice effects like heat
shimmer in the desert. The soundtrack is excellent, using John Williams'
famous score as a starting point, and keeping the Indy feel throughout the
game. Indiana's voice-alike is impressive too. However, it's unfortunate
that this quality doesn't carry on through to the sound effects and
additional voice acting, which range from sloppy to awful.
Surprisingly enough, I actually had far more fun in the co-op adventures
where one player controls Indy, and the other controls Henry Jones, his
father. While the story was told using simple, still images and voiceover,
the Wii-centric gameplay was actually far more effective in these sections.
Teamwork was essential in these activities with Indy and Henry braving
dangers together, like white water rafting (complete with crocodiles, of
course) and climbing ancient booby-trapped towers. Another added bonus
was the unlockable 4-way versus mode, where friends and family can
dogfight in biplanes or blast each other in tanks. But my favourite extra
has got to be, without a doubt, the the playable version of the cult classic,
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.