Yeah, you can tell how I feel already, I’m sure. I sure didn’t want it to be this way, and for a while, it seemed okay.
But it turns out no matter how well you design a level, how much potential a combat system has, and how much fun a few fleeting moments are, a giant mess of code will ruin the experience.
Oh, and the awful animation and save points don’t help.
I’m going to get the good out of the way first, because there is some. First off, and best of all, there’s a copy of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, classic LucasArts puzzle-adventure game. Translates excellently to the Wiimote, features a nice 2x view, and if you like, anti-aliasing (but I say it just looks blurry).
The combat system’s idea takes a lot from Emperor’s Tomb, which was a great Indy game, but it ends up gimping it and loses a lot of translation in poorly done motion controls. Still, there’s a lot of environmental use, tripping people up with the whip, grabbing objects, and some old fashioned skull-thumping.
There’s some shooting sequences that really are very fun. Point and click essentially, sure, with good timing on popping up, but fun. Lots of stuff to shoot and blow up beyond bad guys, which is always a bonus.
There’s also a few cinematic sequences that are plenty fun, even if a little loose on the control, including an elephant chase and a good old fashioned plane escape. Sound is excellent too. Very, VERY well acted, great effects, great dialog.
The experience is very Indiana Jones, in dialog, location, and events. The feel is great, and that’s something that’s hard to do. Even the new movie slipped up a few times in the attempt.
Great scenery too. While the character models aren’t very good, the environments are excellent and well varied.
When it works, there’s some really amazing sequences with action, platform, and puzzle all at once. But it doesn’t usually work, and that’s the problem.
Oh, where to start where to start. The save points. There’s barely any of them, particularly after long sequences of jumps and puzzles. And pressing the same six switches three times is NOT entertaining. Nor is repeating one section of jumps over and over due to loose controls. There’s several points where I replayed 2-3 minutes worth of platforming and fighting, with a set of switches to press in the middle of it. Boring and frustrating. It also managed to entirely discourage me from exploring for artifacts, bonus items to give out game modes and skins (And hey, who can deny that they’d love to play an Indiana Jones game with the Han Solo skin?). One particularly bad save point made me replay a tutorial section three times before I figured out how to advance. Unskippable, same as the cutscenes. Ugh.
Just to make it worse, save points are always before cutscenes. When coming back after a fail, you see Indy’s hat, legs walking up, and he grabs it. And then, a cutscene plays that was in another part of the room, or another room. In the middle of the game I found a save point right before a very big fight. And the cutscene before it was in the dark corner of the room, despite the checkpoint resume animation being in the middle of the room the fight takes place in, nice and well lit.
Sloppy sloppy sloppy. That’s most of the game, though. Another frequent issue is that players often need to be in a very unintuitive locations (too close, too far, too much to the side) to manipulate the environment via the whip, or perfectly precisely six inches in front of an object in the world to manipulate it normally. Often whippable items are hidden by the awful camera as well, and that camera with loose controls backing WILL throw players off ledges to their deaths too as they move around corners.
Clipping errors abound as well, one particularly egregious one is where players have to knock back a coffin. It tips back diagonally, through the wall above it, quite visibly. A little alteration, pushing it back six inches, making move back then fall even, would have avoided that. Animation issues are common, though. Sometimes if not in that perfect spot to activate something, Indy slides over to the object at an amazing speed, locked in one animation frame and rushed through keyframes to hit that one. Almost all the animation is stiff, particularly when carying objects or tugging enemies with the whip (they too tend to just glide over).
There is, really, no singular bad part of the game. It’s an overall combination of bad to really bad systems that ruin what could have been a great game, had the level designers and writers anything to say about it. But you throw in the awful saves, loose control, bad camera, constant repitition, and even some predictable traps. You can always tell what tile is going to break away and make you shake the nunchuck and wiimote because it’s a different color. Lighter shade, different texture, it ALWAYS stands out, and you always have to go through the shaking and pull back up. And even that’s annoying, because you have to wait for the falling animation to complete itself before recovering.
Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings gets 2 out of 5 stars. Parts are enjoyable, they really are. And there’s some great moments, but there’s tons of suffering to get to them. Also, the multiplayer and extra game modes aren’t worth bothering with at all, terrible, excepting for one the copy of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis on here. It’s worth a rent for that, at least, it’s easily unlocked with a few items or a cheat code.