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Indiana Jones And The Staff Of Kings Review

We preferred him when he was made of LEGO...

The talk surrounding Indiana Jones And The Staff Of Kings was mainly of how much more accessible this adventure would be to a wide range of gamers. Really? Take a snapshot of the second level for instance and you'd swear this was designed for hardened gamers with gold-plated synapses and reflexes like Keanu Reeves' in The Matrix. It's one of the hardest levels we can remember playing in a Wii game, and definitely the hardest second level we've ever played.

You're in a biplane trying to outrun a gaggle of Nazi planes through a narrow canyon. It's more a nod to another famous LucasArts property (stars, wars, you know it) and the climax of a certain fourth episode than an Indy staple, and it's absolutely infuriating. You hold the Wii Remote upright much like a plane's control stick, but it offers you next to no control over your craft, and there's a treacherous series of overhanging ledges to duck and weave between, not to mention enemies taking chunks out of you. The slightest hit destabilises you, knocking out your aiming and making it damn nigh impossible to get though the slim openings in the canyon.

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As an introduction to a game, it's hard to fathom. Why close off your game to those with less patience for such fiddly, frustrating gameplay? It's one of a few examples of iffy design which may well get in the way of many people enjoying Staff Of Kings.

In many ways there's a certain perverse enjoyment to be had from banging your head against a brick wall until one or both busts, but then even masochists may be put off by having to sit through the same cut-scenes at the start of a section because of the lack of a skip option. Fail the tutorials and you have to listen to a Harrison Ford imitator (albeit a very convincing one) again, while dying later on returns you to the last checkpoint and the same, tedious animation of Indy picking up his fedora.

Elsewhere though, there's much to enjoy about Staff Of Kings, thankfully. It's an Indy game after all. You'll really want to like it, and on many counts you will. Most important is that crucial wide-eyed Saturday matinee magic. This feels like Indy, possibly even more so than that creaky skull nonsense at the cinema last year.

It's all panoramic sweeps of croc-infested rivers and archaeological digs, while the man himself has that familiar knock-about charm. He scrambles for cover, rolls with the punches and generally takes no nonsense. At one point he hesitates before setting foot on a rickety rope bridge, as if that notorious incident from the end of Temple Of Doom is playing on his mind. The funny side of a college professor being way out of his depth at times is most certainly present and correct.

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The controls just about work. Holding B and flicking the Wii Remote forwards or back cracks Indy's whip. It's used mainly to swing over gaps, but it can also be used in close-quarter dust-ups to whip someone off their feet, draw them towards you or disarm them.

A jab forwards with either the Nunchuk or Remote is a quick, weak punch; a longer sweep right to left or vice versa is a slower, more powerful hook; while a sharp upward motion is a heavy uppercut. You can use Z to grapple an enemy and smack him about the face. It's enjoyable enough but we'd rather have button options, and a lock-on facility would've been handy. At times you'll be fighting half a dozen enemies at once so it can be confusing, made worse by the fact that the motion controls aren't quite as responsive as we'd like.

There's no quick fix with the revolver either. The gun is strictly limited to prescribed sections which have you taking cover and picking off your enemies from a fixed point. That's the story of the game really. A bit of scrapping, a bit of shooting, a bit of exploring, though never at the same time. It's all rather ragged and unpolished. You'll need a lot of patience to get to the good bits.


9 comments so far...
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  1. gils Friday 12th Jun 2009 at 11:40

    i just knew this was going to be turd!

    Oh indy what have they doen to you?


  2. FriarLawrenceIII Friday 12th Jun 2009 at 15:04

    It's a crying shame really. I loved IJ:The emperors tomb. I can't shake the feeling that this is all due to the limitations of the waggle stick. *goes off to read other version reviews*

  3. Wiilmer Saturday 13th Jun 2009 at 09:28

    From the very first time I saw the trailer for this game, I KNEW it was going to be bad!

  4. dreadzrus Sunday 14th Jun 2009 at 07:42

    This game would have been fantastic if you got a free Indy hat. Shame. :cry:

  5. neb14549 Friday 19th Jun 2009 at 06:58

    I was disapointed with this I Thought this was gonna be
    a real winner I was gonna buy it the day after the
    release date until I read your review got donkey kong
    jungle beat instead.

  6. Laughlyn Tuesday 23rd Jun 2009 at 20:45

    A bit of scrapping, a bit of shooting, a bit of exploring, though never at the same time

    sounds like its a wii version of Bayou Billy on the NES, each level was different. one was side scrolling beat em up, next was a driving section and third was light gun.

    That was awfully boring. i'd liek a look at thi sbut i feel it may be a blockbusters rental job first, i learnt my lesson with Tomb Raider Underworld

  7. joseph96 Sunday 28th Jun 2009 at 09:30

    im disapointed with this review it looked like a good game before this review :(

  8. -gonzo- Wednesday 24th Mar 2010 at 15:07

    I dissagree with your points about the 2nd level. Its not hard, you must be just pants at it.
    I found it rather fun and rather easy to be honest(Just call me Neo).
    Im enjoying this game so far, the only gripe I do have is that the levels seem to be rather short.

  9. ledreppe Wednesday 8th Dec 2010 at 20:18

    Thos game doesn't get the credit it's actually due. It's not as bad as the review makes it out to be. The reason I got a Wii, was for this game. I enjoyed it, ok some of the fighting sections are a little fiddly and some of the level design is questionable, but on the whole I found it a nice little action-adventure game. Just give it a chance!

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