Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings

We expect a lot out of Indiana Jones so anything short of an epic adventure is seen as a let-down

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LucasArts Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings
  • LucasArts Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings
  • LucasArts Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings
  • LucasArts Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings

Pros

  • You can unlock the classic adventure The Fate of Atlantis!, the game keeps things interesting enough until the end

Cons

  • Unreliable controls, weak storytelling, too much emphasis on combat, puzzles are too simple

Bottom Line

It's an enjoyable way to waste away the weekend, especially for casual Wii owners who are looking for a challenge; hardcore gamers, on the other hand, will scoff at the game's 'puzzles' but as long as you don't go in expecting the second coming of The Last Crusade, you'll be fine.

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If I had to rank all of the Indiana Jones adventures in order of best to worst, I'd put The Last Crusade at the top — that's an easy decision. The second best Indy adventure is just as easy to name: it's LucasArt's fantastic point-and-click adventure title, The Fate of Atlantis. The great news is that this classic is available as an unlocked reward on the newest Indy adventure, Staff of Kings. The bad news is that Staff isn't exactly Indy's finest moment. It's a heck of a lot better than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, though.

No Shia Lebouf At Least

Here's what I liked about Staff of Kings: it's got an interesting premise that sees Indiana Jones questing after the titular artifact (for the biblically challenged, the Staff of Kings is, in the game anyway, the staff Moses used to part the Red Sea). There were also points in the game when I truly felt like a rough-and-tumble adventurer scouring ancient ruins in search of treasure; there are also gun-oriented sections that were thematically unrealistic — Indy rarely used guns — but still entertaining. And, as I mentioned before, there is a pretty sweet reward waiting at the end of your adventures in the form of The Fate of Atlantis. (Sorry to go off-topic but I really hope LucasArts decides to give classics adventure titles like Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle and Full Throttle the same treatment. I also hope whoever owns the old Sierra On-line properties takes notice and puts out a compilation disc. The Wii is ready-made for these types of games.)

Now, here's what I didn't like about Staff of Kings: the visuals are straight out of the PS2 era (ironically, there is a PS2 version), the controls are insanely unreliable, especially in the combat sequences when you're often surrounded by multiple enemies, and the puzzles are far too simple (it's less Archaeology 101 and more Treasure Hunting for Dummies). The checkpoint system forces you to replay through too many sections after you die, and you can't skip cutscenes, which is practically unforgivable. The storytelling is also lacking, with no clear exposition between one level to the next. I never really understood the mystery behind the Staff or why the bad guys even wanted it in the first place, but I guess being an evil Nazi is its own motivation.

Time for Adventure

And yet, I have to admit that I still enjoyed the seven hours or so it took me to finish it. I often found myself frustrated and I rolled my eyes a fair number of times at the lame story, but the developer does a good job of switching things up. Even if you are doing the same four things over and over again, the game manages to keep you interested long enough to convince you to complete the level and move on. I think the game suffers from being tied to such a beloved franchise — we expect a lot out of Indiana Jones so anything short of an epic adventure is seen as a let-down. That's what happened to Crystal Skull and that's what happened to Staff of Kings.

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