You do get to trudge around ancient environments, but stages are limited in size and not that interactive – you can only use your whip to climb walls, topple structures or swing across gaps at particular moments, and never at your discretion. ‘Exploration’ soon comes to mean ‘running around, triggering occasional quick-time events’. As such, the platforming’s never particularly exciting, but as the glue that holds the superior combat and puzzle sections together it suffices.
Indy’s all about the set piece, you see, and there are some genuinely impressive moments here. Puzzles are typically of the block-pushing variety, but some – including one based on Mayan football – are inspired. On your travels you’ll happen upon a pirate ship that was somehow moored under San Francisco, ride an elephant through the streets of Istanbul, and stumble into messy bar fights with Chinese hardmen. It’s all terribly Indiana Jones.
The combat also embodies the spirit of the films, and for the most part involves highly enjoyable man-punching, with the ability to pick up tools and make use of your surroundings. The Nunchuk’s your left fist, the remote your right. You can dish out jabs and hooks, dodge blows, grapple and throw people, and chuck anything littering the environment at enemies’ heads. Your trusty whip will also bring bookcases and the like down on enemy heads, offing them in one crushing swoop. It’s great fun, reminiscent of a number of fights from the films, and with masterful use of motion controls.
Still, brawling’s only part of the package. The on-rails gunfights can be mediocre in comparison, while the (blessedly) few minigames are never less than soul destroying. The combat may be a triumph, but as it’s dumped on you in huge chunks – rather than integrated properly into the flow of the game – it soon becomes a tad repetitive.
As with a deep-fried Mars bar, Staff of Kings’ disparate elements shouldn’t work in combination – and, indeed, they don’t quite – but the individual ingredients are right tasty. It’s an enjoyable game, but so bitty and shallow it’s difficult to recommend. Still, as a free aside to the brilliant Fate of Atlantis it doesn’t really matter, right?
Jun 10, 2009