The lights are on
Following the shortcomings of the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, many fans expected huge things from Indy’s comeback, especially after the announcement of the Staff of Kings release on X-box and PS3. To the disappointment of many, the attractive looking initial release was canceled due to various financial and company ills within LucasArts and following a long, difficult retooling, Indy eventually was reduced to only a DS and Wii release, leaving us with the Staff of Kings we now know. While the Staff of Kings is not by any means bad, the good Dr. Jones seems to have let his glory days stay in the past with better stories told.
Like any good Indy tale, the usual Krauts try swiping another precious artifact better left to a museum than das Fuher. Indy competes against former classmate and rival Magnus Voller in a race against time to locate his old mentor, Charles Kingston, and Moses’s lost staff of Kings as heshoots and hurtles his way across the Americas and Asia with journalist Maggie O’Malley.
At a glance, the plot sounds as solid as any Indy flick, but the new characters are all found lacking in any sort of interest. Maggie remains your typical Indy girl with no real motives, feeling, or even much developed screen-time while Magnus stays a stereotypical Nazi fortune hunter with no evident display of skill or intimidating cunning. Charles Kingsley’s part may be no better, being brief and hardly relevant when Indy finally finds him. The plot twists are, thus, meaninglessly empty, but Indy still delivers his usual wit and cleverness with an uncanny Harrison Ford sound-a-like, though with surprisingly toned down language and some lack of edge.
Graphically, Staff of Kings is fine, but as with many Wii games, seems to be cheaply made for such potential. Much of the jungles and buildings appear, at times, too plasticky and under-detailed. Doctor Jones's comrades remain unfortunately blocky and more than a few of his weapons look like toys. The game's low-res lighting may also underwhelm the potential beauty of the game's jungle and mountain locales.
Once again, controls prove sufficient, but overall lacking in polish. Though the Wii-mote controls would seem ideal for whip cracks and punches, these can often be clunky and unresponsive in finding their targets. The hand-to-hand combat is certainly the worst, being the most unresponsive and sensitive. Enemies' further lack of intelligence could be found either extremely humorous or downright dull as Indy will easily tackle and trip baddies with 3 Stooges finesse. The controls for shooting, however, work perfectly, but enemies always counter with such ludicrously, it never seems challenging.
While the game doesn't include a whole lot in bonus features, what it does have will certainly interest old Lucas Arts fans, namely for its inclusion of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis on the game disc. Rather than the few bits of concept art and old film trailers, Fate of Atlantis nearly proves just as good if not a better game than Staff of Kings after all these years and you might be better off playing this entry.
The entire game, while with a few John Williams musical moments, is a sure mascot of the dying horse George Lucas keeps beating, either with silly Shia Lebeouf supporting roles or cheesy writing, that keeps delivering a disappointing Indy experience. Staff of Kings might have its charms for the diehard Indy fan, but otherwise, superior games like Uncharted 2 or Tomb Raider will most likely offer far better game experiences this generation. For me, Indy will forever be the icon of the silver screen and we await the day that he makes a grand small screen entrance with a truly deserved Dr. Jones epic.
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