April 10, 2009 – Last year’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a blockbuster film, no doubt about it. While the return of Indiana Jones to the silver screen excited many fans, some criticized the film for its many fantastical plot devices (aliens and nuked fridges, anyone?) and lack of archaeological inspiration. But no matter how you feel about the latest film, Indiana Jones is an undeniable staple of pop-culture, and even though the original Indy may have seen his last hurrah in Hollywood, it seems ol’ Indy will be taking on a second life in the world of video games.
Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings takes place in 1939 and sees our hero one year after the events of The Last Crusade. Indy finds a new adventure when evildoer Magnus Völler sets his sights on finding the staff that Moses used to part the Red Sea. This powerful relic is now known as the Staff of Kings and Indy must stop Völler from finding this staff and using it for any evil ends he might have in mind. Of course, fans of the movies will probably recognize this plotline as being very similar to The Last Crusade, but I’m sure that Staff of Kings will have some distinct plot elements to set it apart from the rest of the Indiana Jones mythos.
As far as gameplay is concerned, Staff of Kings looks like it will feature pretty standard action-based and environmental gameplay (much like another well-known archaeologist). Combat will be facilitated via Indy’s trusty whip, which can be used by swinging the Wii-mote. In addition to whip combat, there will also be small gunplay segments, which will most likely feature an on-rails, third-person perspective. The combat in the game looks like it will be nicely varied, which will give this title a rounded feel. The game will also use quick-time events to add variety to long, chained combo attacks. In addition to the combat and environmental elements to the gameplay, Staff of Kings will also have a few dedicated vehicle levels that will involve driving around in a biplane, a raft, and even an elephant!
The environmental aspects of the game will use a tried and true puzzle format (again, reminiscent of that other archaeologist). The game features HotSet environments, which will change and develop as you interact with them. You will have to manipulate these environments as well as use your tools and your whip in order to make a path through each level. The different environments also look to be fairly diverse, as the game takes place on a global scale that reaches from Panamanian jungles to the bustling cityscape of San Francisco.
One feature that has me really excited is the inclusion of co-op. Although we do not have any confirmation as to which platforms will support co-op, or how it will be done, this will be the first Indiana Jones game to have more than single-player support, which is pretty exciting! There will also be a special multiplayer mode that supports up to four people in vehicle-based combat. Again, not much is known about which consoles this multiplayer will be included with (or whether it will be online-capable) but we do know that you will have a choice of plane-based or tank-based levels, and there will be no character-based component to the multiplayer. Another special feature that will be in the Wii version of Staff of Kings is the inclusion of the 1992 point-and-click adventure, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. The full game has been included on the Wii disc, and it will be playable in its original form, with the Wii-mote acting as the cursor.
Although Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings is not coming to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as some had originally anticipated, the game looks like it will be a lot of fun. With several new multiplayer modes, an old-school inspired storyline, and plenty of varied gameplay, this title is one to look for when it releases this summer on the Wii, PS2, DS, and PSP.