Things We Like
Rare Antiquities: There's a wealth of bonus material here for the die-hard Indiana Jones fan, including trailers from all four movies, co-op minigames and -- best of all -- a pixel-perfect port of the 1992 classic adventure Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Tragically, the point-and-click throwback is the high point of the material on the disc.
Fortune and Glory: After suffering through a wildly out-of-character alien adventure in the last movie, it's great to see the old Indiana Jones back in action against Nazis, looking for a mystical artifact -- in this case, the staff of Moses. It makes for an ideal MacGuffin and, in a different world, could have made for a great movie sequel.
It's the Mileage: The game taps all the nostalgia high points with the musical score that every fan loves and even a passable Harrison Ford soundalike. The rest of the vocal work is mediocre, but the whip, pistol and punch sound effects are spot on. That said, hearing Indiana Jones say "Wii Remote" just sounds crazy wrong.
Check out Staff of Kings in action:
Things We'd Change
It Was Wrong and You Knew It: Like too many Wii games, Staff of Kings suffers from an overreliance on dodgy, awkward motion controls that make the game an exercise in frustration. Fighting involves swinging the Wii Remote in various ways to punch or whip enemies, but throwing a punch works as often as it doesn't, so you never feel fully in control of the character. Even when the controls actually do what you want them to, the game feels more like work than fun. This is not the way to use motion on the Wii.
They're Digging in the Wrong Place: Because of the wide variety of motion controls and the constant and confusing onscreen prompts explaining which motions to make and when to make them, deaths are constant. Worse, the checkpoint system tends to save before tutorials and cutscenes, none of which can be skipped, so you'll end up watching and playing the same repetitive, annoying scenes over and over again while you figure out what arbitrary movement the game expects of you.
Cover Your Eyes, Marion: Everyone knows that the Wii isn't a graphical powerhouse, but this game looks terrible. Uncharted on the PS3 demonstrated what an Indiana Jones game could look like, but Staff of Kings looks like a game from early last generation. Some of the environments have a few nice details, but the levels feel small and confined. The constant mugging facial expressions on the Indiana Jones character model have to go.
Adios, Sapito: Linearity is a killer with games like this. You never feel like you're exploring a living environment as much as you are walking a narrow path with few choices and predictable, simple puzzles. The extent of interaction with the environment is limited to predefined objects you can pick up or whip, but you can only do so when icons appear above the items to tell you what you can do with them. Compared to a game like The Force Unleashed, where the player could pick up or smash nearly anything, the gameplay in Staff of Kings feels ancient. The sense of genuine exploration that you'd expect in an Indiana Jones game is nowhere to be found.
This game could have been so much more, but lackluster graphics, boring level design and frustrating controls sink this game from the very beginning. There are fleeting moments where it almost starts to work, but Indiana Jones fans should skip the main game and go straight to the Fate of Atlantis extra.
--Reviewed by lee Clontz