Since we have already published an official review of IJatSoK for the Wii (read it here), I decided to publish my thoughts on the PSP version of the game.
I’m glad to see a lot more Indiana Jones around, because there was such a drought of content between the third and fourth movies. I’ll just chalk this up as poor judgement on George Lucas’ part… since he hasn’t had a 5 out of 5 hit since the original Star Wars movie (Empire and Jedi were actually directed by David Cronenberg).
Sure, Lego Indiana Jones is a decent hit, but I think you could make Lego Ass-Raping Walrus and it would still make bank. The only “real” Indy game was Indiana Jones and the Emporer’s Tomb, a response to the Tomb Raider franchise (which was itself a rip of Indy), but “Emperer’s Tomb” just didn’t have the same magic.
So, now we have Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings for several platforms. The Wii version was well-liked by Gareth, and actually lets you flick your Wiimote as a whip… which is probably freakin’ awesome. I had a chance to play the latest Indy game for the PSP, which doesn’t appear to be quite so awesome.
The Staff of Kings is an action game, and tells a typical Indiana Jones story from beginning to end (a la “15 years ago”, etc). Indy is chasing down various mysterious objects all around the world, of course running into various villains… which is usually the intro for each level. You are usually fighting a room full of goons, chasing someone, or escaping some sort of deathtrap.
There are several mini goals in each level, like “complete the level with 70% health” or “complete the objective in 6 minutes”. Like Tomb Raider, there are several hidden items scattered throughout the level. Completing the level of course shows you how well you did on each objective.
The gameplay is rather simple. You usually fight using your fists and your whip, and combos are executed by basically button-mashing. Your whip is more than just a weapon, and is used to solve various puzzles, grab onto and pull things. Combat gets tedious because there are just so many endless enemies, and it’s hard to break away once you’ve engaged in a fight.
There is a break in the action when doing the typical platforming-puzzle-solving thing. When you must use your whip or pistol to perform a special action, the game informs you, so you’re not likely to get stuck.
The sounds are pretty good considering. The musical score is very well done, and sounds very John Williams-ish. While LucasArts couldn’t secure Harrison Ford to reprise his role, the substitute actor actually does a very good job, and voice acting is great across the board.
The graphics are rather good for a PSP game, but they’re not great. All of the dank tomb areas have hardly any shadows, and look very bright and unusually clean. It just seems like the game just needs a bit more spit and polish.
This sounds like normal formula for platforming fare, but just as assassins know, it’s all about the execution. There’s just something about the game that just doesn’t hold my interest.
The 10-year-old reaction
How I know this game isn’t for everyone is how my 10-year-old son reacts to it. This is the same kid that actually has a Fedora, fake bullwhip, and constantly tells me how cool Indy is, even though I was his age when “Raiders” debuted.
When I introduced him to the game, I thought his head was going to explode with excitement. He eagerly snatched away the official OCMS PSP and disappeared into the basement. Several hours later he brought it back to me.
This is a kid that has tried to sneak away my PSP on several occasions so he could play through the night… and he can definitely power through games without a break. To top it all off, he loves all of the crappy movie games that come out every summer that all game reviewers know are garage-sale fodder.
I asked my gaming son if he wanted to play Indy again and he responded with “Nah, that’s ok.”
If that’s not a testament to the quality of this game then I don’t know what is.