Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie Review

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Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft

Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PSP, DS,
Reviewed on Xbox 360

In this adaptation of the Peter Jackson film, step into Jack Driscoll's shoes and lacerate insects and dinosaurs in an effort to rescue a silent film heroine from a colossal ape between penning the film's nebulous script.

Kyle Ackerman

I've certainly played worse game adaptations of films. As a multiplatform game that rushed to adapt Peter Jackson's King Kong into game form, it's vaguely adequate. As an overblown, over-hyped blockbuster that touted Michel Ancel's ability to bring an epic film to a new, next generation console, Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie is an utter flop.

Wrong Platform, Right Time

Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the MovieTo be honest, were this game on the Xbox, or even the PlayStation 2, it would be a decent, if unexceptional, game. On the Xbox 360, even given the early state of that console, it's a sloppy-looking port that only differentiates itself from an Xbox game by adding befuddling achievements that appear to have been shoehorned in at the last minute. That said, it's still not a great game. In an effort to be cinematic, King Kong is often interminable, making me sit through long sequences that are hardly particularly entertaining. Furthermore, Ancel's design favors context-sensitive actions, such that the same trigger-pull will open a gate, grab a hand to be pulled up onto a ledge, or thrust a spear.

Unfortunately, it's not always crystal clear what you are supposed to do, and given the game's effort to maintain a seamless interface, it's easy to be staring right at the stick you are supposed to shove into a rotating post without seeing it. That's particularly frustrating when Skull Island is littered with spears that should be able to do the same job. Fortunately, it's possible to add a crosshair and inventory interface to the screen, because it's really annoying to be attempting to throw flaming spears at a distant target, repeatedly missing and fetching more spears from a far-away pile. It's equally annoying to have Jack (the writer character) constantly shouting out how much ammunition he has left, between his pants of exhaustion.

First-Person Spear-Chucker

Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the MovieThe game is arguably a first-person shooter, but most of the time all I got to do was throw spears and sharpened bones. Given the uninspired graphics, there are only so many times that I can hurl sticks at millipedes before I get annoyed. Frequently, guns can be found in crates, but they have limited ammunition and can kill dinosaurs when fired into thin air, yet miss what should be the dinosaur's torso. Furthermore, when the other characters on the film crew strolled in front of me while firing, my gun wouldn't go off (presumably to save their lives from their own feeble brains). Worse yet, their inability to follow the incredibly linear path forced me to restart sections repeatedly.

The real joy of King Kong should be playing as Kong, but the controls are sloppy and the battles uninspired. The scene Ubisoft showed in previews of the game, in which Kong pushes a Tyrannosaurus Rex's jaws apart until they snap (killing the dinosaur) is still the most satisfying, but combat is button mashing, as is running and swinging. In fact, the only thing you can really do wrong while playing Kong is not push a button.

Swing at a Biplane

Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the MovieEasily the finest levels of King Kong are the final ones set in New York, when the monotony of Skull Island is traded in for New York blanketed in snow. It's tremendously entertaining to leap around as Kong, smashing cars and planes, but my Kong would have caused a lot less destruction if the controls and camera had functioned rationally. Sudden camera changes meant that when Kong was peaceably bounding down a street, suddenly he'd change direction and smash up a few cars while trying to run up a skyscraper.

At least this game makes Adrien Brody's character of Jack Driscoll seem like an actual hero, even if his main achievement is mashing millipedes and setting fire to the brush. It also showed that Ann Darrow was the real hero, because while I (as Jack) couldn't jump, Ann could scale walls, kill dinosaurs with a bone and even summon Kong. Even Kong was willing to carry Ann around in his hand while she hefted a burning spear to clear troublesome brush. But with loading screens that seem to take longer than some levels, outdated graphics, and the fact that every effort at cinematography detracts from the fun, this one is easy to give a miss. At least it was short.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on December 2, 2005 7:46 PM.

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