Peter Jackson's King Kong
The King Kong presentation at E3 was, aptly, one of the biggest events at Ubisoft's stand. Peter Jackson is a huge fan of BG&E, and cites that as the reason for choosing Ubisoft Montreal (and creative director, Michel Ancel in particular) to collaborate on the game.
Familiar filmic themes abound from the start, with a semi-naked damsel tied to a stake, and tribal natives dancing around chanting Kong! Kong!
And what a great ape! Beautifully rendered, towering over everything before him. Unfortunately, Ubisoft is unwilling to release any monkey images to the public prior to the film studio's unveiling of this new Kong, but take our word for it that both game and ape look amazing.
Going beyond the film's narrative has provided Ancel with the scope to carve a truly inspired action ride, and switching perspectives at key plot points from man to ape and back again is a novel way to beast, even if those moments appear to be extended punch-ups with dinosaurs.
The brutal nature of these fights - headbutts, POP-style agility, even grabbing a T-Rex's jaw and ripping it off at one point - combined with the emotionally charged visual style of Kong (wonky mouth, jutting teeth, slightly thick' look - at least when he's not roaring and ripping dinosaur limbs apart) instantly elevates the titular monkey far above the usual bland one-dimensional gaming monsters. This is an ape you'll feel for. Even when you're fleeing for your life.
Speaking of which, while you're in the Adrian Brody role, the experience is one of merely trying to work out how to remain uneaten. It's very survival-based - running through the mist-drenched jungle, chased by either enraged natives, irate giant monkeys, ravenous dinosaurs or bizarrely-sized jungle creatures. Luckily, you're not alone. The film's stars are here in force, specifically Jack Black, helping you and each other out with some impressive survival Al. The jungle provides plenty of inspiration for weapons, too - spears can be made on the fly - as well as making for some exciting set pieces. A precarious rope bridge level has all the tension you'd expect from knowing that giant beasties are all around and death is just a slippery step away...
The E3 demo made no mention of the city-side of the game, but with Kong scaling the Empire State Building being one of the most iconic images in film history, we're expecting a fair amount of Rampage-style action to be taking place once you're free of the jungle environs.
For now we're plenty satisfied with f thfcse gloomy, rain-soaked jungle screens. If they're good enough for Jackson...
Download Peter Jackson's King Kong
From Floor to ceiling, I'm surrounded by original artwork and designs direct from Peter Jackson and his WETA workshop in New Zealand. To my nght is a map of Skull Island that details the movement of a certain simian through film and game. Nearby are sketches of the environments that'll showcase Kong's rampage through New York. To my left is Michel Ancel. gaming luminary and creator of overlooked masterpiece Beyond Good & Evil Ancel looks just like I always imagined him - extremely Gallic and wearing a distinctly un-ironed shirt with coloured stripes that very, very nearly border on wacky. In short, the only thing that could propel me any further into geek heaven would be if I were simultaneously holding hands with an Ewok.
In The Words Of Wham!...
This story began last Christmas. While we were all sitting through the 19th ending of The Return Of The King, Peter Jackson was playing a certain game called Beyond Good & Evil and was loving every minute of it. With King Kong and its particulars nascent in his genius-beard, a meeting was hastily arranged in the leafy environs of Beverty Hills. It was our first meeting, Ancel later confides, and I was really, really stressed. When he entered the room he just immediately told me that he'd played my game and finished it. It was a really great start
With more special effects shots than all The Lord of the Rings trilogy put together. King Kong is set to be the biggest event movie of the year. What's more, Jackson demanded a game that goes beyond a mere tie-in and he's hired the best in the business of development and emotional storytelling to create it. I've played it and confirm that it's the best movie tie-in since GoldenEye on the N64. And yes, I am aware that's a pretty obvious comment to make when we've been standing in a turgid river of celluloid-to-console-to-PC shite for the past five years. But, honestly, what NightFire, Catwoman and The Incredibles are to a stream of un-moving excrement, King Kong is to skipping in a garden with excited, nubile young women.
If you've been absent from society since Kong's first foray in 1933, or indeed lobotomised yourself after the 1976 Jeff Bndges retelling, then a spot of recap is perhaps in order. A collection of foolhardy souls stumble onto a place known as Skull Island; in Peter Jackson's vision, they're a Hollywood production company out to find places to film a delightful romantic comedy, and as such have scriptwriter Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody), surly director Carl Denham (Jack Black) and the movie's leading light Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts).
Seeing as they've stumbled on a time zone where dinosaurs still rule the earth, unsurprisingly everything goes fete Tong. Without much ado they're captured by natives and Ann is offered up for sacrifice while drums are beaten and the figure of a giant ape appears in the misty mid-distance intent on snatching the starlet and carrying her into the back of beyond. From here until Kong's final encounter with New York street-life (and, indeed, pavement), it's a dual story of Kong's relationship with Ann (described by Jackson as the relationship between a seven-year-old boy and his favourite toy) and that of Jack and Carl's efforts to both rescue her and refrain from being eaten by dinosaurs.
For gamers, this is where the action separates into two levels: that of controlling the mighty Kong himself -delivering multiple biffs to the face of many and varied T-Rexes - and that played from the FPS viewpoint of Jack Driscoll, simply trying to survive in the unsavoury climate of Skull Island. It's a mixture of hiding, fending off dinosaurs and being gently pounded into awe-filled submission by some intensely clever and tension-moulding level design. The close work between WETA and Ancel clearly aims to take the goodness of Beyond Good & Evil and add a sharp cinematic edge to already prodigious storytelling credentials.
A good example of this is perhaps the first level I played while under the watchful eye of Ancel's staff. Wandering through the mist, through gulleys and ravines. I hear a distant thundering and watch the ground reverberating beneath my feet. Minutes later I'm still working my way through narrow valleys and tunnels and watching soil and dust falling from the walls around me. hearing the pounding getting ever louder and ever persistent until I finally break out into a wide foggy valley. Suddenly, through the mists, the vast, vast shape of a Brontosaurus appears. Then another, then another. Then another behind that one. The music soars, and all of a sudden I'm in the game that Jurassic Park so desperately cried out for. It's fundamentally ace, yet in typically mood-breaking style I feel compelled to pick up a spear, set it on fire and throw it at a Bronto's gigantic flank. It trumpets and thunders off into the distance. Yay. I rule.
It was me who first decided to use an FPS viewpoint," Ancel later explains, clearly slightly concerned that I'm standing slightly too close to his stripy shirt for comfort. I wanted the game to be immersed in the world. I love the fact that the dinosaurs are looking straight into your eyes directly and not at anyone else." And when you see the dinos moving, how true this is. Probably the most impressive thing in the game's production thus far is the way that T-Rexes dip their heads down at you and roar so loudly that the air around their vast maws reverberates and knocks you flat back into your seat.
Another early level of the game sees Jack (you), Carl (Jack Black) and someone who's presumably due a horrible death later in the game (some bloke) pursued by a T-Rex into a valley, with only an ancient door as an exit. It's up to you to keep the terrible lizard's attention away from your buddies while they frantically try to open the door -using handy spears plucked from nearby bamboo-ish plants, gunfire (with limited ammo) and your own body as bait. It's hairy stuff, and should you run out of spears you have to tiptoe towards the creature to pluck the spears back out.
There's a real survival ethic at work here - even though what's on display to journalists, especially in what was shown at E3, is slightly kiltered to the all-action desires of select members of its whooping and hollering audience. For obvious gameplay-led reasons, a not-actually-in-the-movie' bi-plane drops off weapons (with remarkably little ammo), but a lot of the action will see you fending off massive creatures using the aforementioned spears (of both bone and bamboo-ish varieties), fire, bait and your own wits.
What's more, the pursuit of dragging you further into the gameworld has led Ancel to nix staple FPS furniture like aiming reticules and health bars. Instead of a constantly falling life-o-meter, you have to pay attention to the puffs, pants and screams of your character - as well as the charming red tinge that grows and grows until your likely demise. What you have to do at these points is run away - run away from the giant bats and/or giant crabs to find a safe area in which to lick your wounds and slowly regenerate some health. This gives the game a valuable sense of being both predator (going back out to flaming spear some dino-arse) and some choice tail-between-your-legs moments of being the prey.
Much as I love what I've seen of Kong, there's a pessimist in me that occasionally delivers sharp kicks to my ribs in cases such as this - and the big monkey has provided me with two. The first is a question of linearity - because, despite Peter Jackson's mantra of if it's not in the movie it could be in the game", the game is tied to the movie and as such levels can't afford for much dilly-dallying when there's a screaming starlet to save. Ancel counters this convincingly by explaining that he's trying to instil choice and freedom within the linear confines of his levels. A prime example of this, perhaps, is the absolutely breathtaking, breathless and perfect cinematic pitch of a downstream raft-ride that you and your companions take. Pursued by two (count 'em, two) T-Rexes and a cavalcade of other subsidiary beasties, a lesser game would simply have this as one of those dreaded moving gun emplacement levels' that every shooter and its deceased mother has been churning out since Half-Life. In the hands of Ancel, however, it's slightly different. Your aim is not to kill, but to delay - you have no hope of killing what's after you (and it wouldn't fit in the game narrative either but shhh!), which means you must frantically use the assets you have and the environment around you to put the brakes on the dinos' relentless pursuit.
Calm Down, Calm Down
You can start off with machine gun fire, you can turn to Jack Black on the raft behind you to demand a spear to lob at your pursuers, you can set the spear on fire and ignite nearby patches of long grass or you can blast creatures out of the sky, which causes Rex and friend to pause for a moment and chow down on Batfink. You don't have time to do them all and if you're not hasty, then you or one of your companions become brunch - it's linear then, linear as hell, but with Ancel's narrative and gameplay-orientated brainwaves coupled with the cinematic edge of the scene, then it neatly slips past my pessimistic side's radar.
Seeking to further assuage my panic, Ancel pats down his ruffled shirt and points out that there's another edge to his sword: Whenever you die we'll modify the game and exactly what creatures attacked you," he explains. In other games, when you die you get the same repeated sequence and you can learn how to do it. Here though, you can play through again without seeing the same creatures.'' It s a nifty tactic that'll also allow him to tame down creatures should the gamer in question be a cack-handed Norbert.
And so now we come to Kong himself, cradling Ann in his arms and running through the jungle with mischief on his mind. There's an element of ico (the wonderful PlayStation 2 platfonner now available at your nearest import shop for a distinctly non-reasonable $50) promised in these sections, as Kong double-teams with the iddy-biddy woman he's clutching. What's more, as the game progresses it's evident that, in a fairly extreme example of the Stockholm syndrome, she slowly warms to her hairy monolithic captor.
Enter The Monkey
Kong's controls are remarkably simple and his fights beautifully choreographed. My hands-on saw me take on two T-Rexes and what was on-screen was quite delightful: throwing batfinks into their mouths, watching them instinctively catch it and smacking them in the chops, climbing up massive ruins and delivenng WWE-style power-'bombs. beating his chest, delivering flurries of monkey slaps and (his piece de resistance), pulling back the jaws of the Rexes until you hear an overwhelmingly brutal snap. He's fun to control and better to watch, as he leaps with apparent Prince Of Persia-stylings from wall to wall, tree to tree and from pulverised monster to pulverised monster.
I've just had a kick in the ribs though, and so have to provide a caveat. From what I've played, I have to report that the Kong sections are nowhere near as well suited to PC as they are to console - not by a long way. Please bear in mind that, obviously, I was playing incomplete code and Kong's earliest (and therefore simplest and easiest) appearance in the game. But despite the apparent style and finesse in Kong's fighting, climbing and leaping, all I was doing at the other end of the bargain was providing an entirely unsubtle episode in button-mashing. At the end of the day, whatever the Ancel pedigree, this is a game being released on many platforms and I can only hope that the same finesse seen in the FPS sections is brought to the Kong sections. Then again, however button-tappy it was, controlling the great ape remained a visceral and powerful experience - we shouldn't forget that Beyond Good & Evil was a multi-platfonn release and remained a stunning achievement.
You Are Beautiful...
PC game-players can expect to have the most detailed and beautiful version of the game (competing against the version on the much-heralded Xbox 360), with all manner of hi-tech lighting effects, normal mapping and infinitely more polygons than in the last-gen offerings. However, whether Kong gameplay will suit the platform remains a case of wait and see. I, however, still have heavy dibs on the fact that it will by the time of release.
Another bonus is that, because of lowly GameCube releases and the like. King Kong will be able to run satisfactonly on most games PCs - the graphics will look worse, but old and new graphics cards alike will be able to run the game without too much jittery-pokery. Don't let this word of warning get you down though: King Kong will without doubt be as big as its namesake and far, far cleverer. After just playing for a few minutes I came across an unscripted moment when a raptor grabbed my leg. dragged me onto the ground and had me frantically jabbing him away with my spear and screaming (in real-life in front of Michel Ancel and his lovely shirt) "Gerroff! Gerroff! He's got my leg!"
It's not just that though: King Kong is taking the traditional FPS and doing loads of interesting things with it -turning it into a more cinematic whole -an 'event' game, in which the pursuit of reeling in the player leads to clever stuff like Skull Island's food chain and some blindingly obvious, yet previously unseen stuff as simple as the need to hold your nfle above your head when you wade through rivers.
With the team promising some extremely nice stuff" appearing after Kong's debut on the New York social scene at the close of the game, a stream of production notes and designs appearing from the WETA workshops on a weekly basis and remarkably frequent meetings with Jackson himself, King Kong is the rarest of beasts. It's a movie game being made by people who don't wear suits, who care about narrative and gameplay and who certainly don't bother using an iron on their shirts. It's a game that has direct interaction with the very highest ranks of the movie's production. It's a game with ideas at its heart that are big enough to hide the cash register that lurk behind it. It's a good game too. All this and there's an absolutely gigantic monkey that features quite heavily.
The Circle Of Life
Skull Island Works A Little Bit Like The Serengeti, In That Everything Eats Each Other...
Let's ponder on the demise of one of the giant bats that I humorously labelled as batfinks' - one that got munched by the T-Rexes to save Adrien Brody on his thrilling river ride. This is an example of what Mr Beyond Good & Evil calls the island's food chain. Everything in the game, yourself very much included, has its own predators and prey. Giant bats and centipedes chow down on similarly over-sized dragonflies and frog-things, raptors and larger carnivores nab giant bats and giant millipedes, while T-Rexes eat everything in sight and Brontosauruses eat lots and lots of plants. You'll be able to use this to your advantage by jabbing at pond-life and keeping them wriggling at the end of your ever-handy spear to use them as bait.
One level I played featured an eminently rickety bridge (Skull Island has lots of rickety bridges - you just can't get the tribal native workmen these days) with a colony of giant batfinks hanging above it in characteristically upside-down fashion. Now you could be boring, pick up the nearby sniper rifle and take pot-shots - or, if you're daring, adventurous and handsome like me, you can prong a forlornly buzzing dragonfly on the end of a pointy stick and lob the insecto-javelin into the chasm below. This causes all, or at least most, of the bats to chase after lunch while you run like merry f**k over the bat-poo-covered bridge. If you're also me, however, then you'll slip and die - and simply use the sniper rifle next time as its far less dangerous.
After A Brief search on Google Earth, I've finally accepted that Skull Island doesn't exist and that giant apes and prehistoric lizards will forever be confined to movies, games and some of my stranger dreams. And after playing Peter Jackson's King Kong, my disappointment with the non-existence of the isle is also met with some relief. Skull Island is a terrifying place - valleys dotted with ruins of ancient and forgotten civilisations, seemingly bottomless chasms spanned by rickety old rope bridges, and of course, the improbable abundance of supposedly extinct T-Rexes - and one absolutely massive monkey.
I'm in the waterlogged safari suit of Jack Driscoll, trying to keep up with my expeditionary chums as we wander through a dull green valley bordered by sheer stone faces on either side. The lack of any sort of on-sdteti information is as apparent as a missing front tooth, there's no ammo count or health readouts, no compass or map. It's a far more literal take on a first-person viewpoint, complemented by the sort of bobbing, stumbling and jerking movements you'd expect as you traverse the vine-smothered floors of an ancient ravine. It's not an entirely innovative feature, but I struggle to think of a time I've felt as immediately drawn into in-game surroundings.
The rain continues to pound the scenery as we exit the narrow valley and spy some of our comrades sprinting hastily across a bridge far above our heads. They've seen some sort of monster, they inform us, but they don't know where it's gone now... And like some connoisseur of dramatic and predictable timing the colossal figure of a T-Rex emerges from behind them, decimating the fragile bridge and tearing people to shreds in a scripted flurry of teeth and limbs. Just like in the movies.
There are a number of reasons why Kong's hairy arse won't sit comfortably in the FPS chair. Its sequences and set-pieces, the invisible interface, the cinematic presentation and the fact that there are entire sections in which you play as the exiymous King from a third-person perspective. These sections have you chasing Fay Wray (or Naomi Watts at least), protecting her from danger, leaping about Skull Island with surprising acrobatic grace for such a big ape, and getting into bloody scraps with the local wildlife. The combat controls are simple: left-click to swing Kong's tree trunk arms about, shattering the bones of anything they come into contact with, and right-click to grab - a move which opens a few more combat options such as throwing and slamming.
For all its simplicity, the action on screen looks superbly choreographed and intense. Punches connect with a stunning sense of force, and the animations give a feeling of weight and epic magnitude. However, the console leanings we noticed with our last playtest are unfortunately still very much present, with mindless button mashing and frantic clicks of the mouse being the key to coming out successful in . most confrontations. Despite this,
King Kong looks set to be a thrilling and Involving experience if nothing else, and undoubtedly be abenchmark for future movin Ubisoft Montpellier plans to couple the legendary tale of the skyscraper-scaling simian with the storytelling abilities of Beyond Good & Evil creator Michel Ancel, so chances are we're in for a treat.
The Last Time I was planning major monkey coverage in PC, I was phoning a zoo asking if we could dress up one of their simian inmates in gangster clothing and pose alongside them with a copy of the magazine. Interestingly, the clothing wasn't an issue for the lady monkeywrangler. It was more the fact that apparently, chimps can be unpredictably violent, with a tendency to bite your face off - obviously a disadvantage if you're the editor of Britain's best PC games rag.
Whicji brings us to King Kong - another aggressive ape, that again I imagine would be difficult to get into a sharp suit and force to smoke a cigar. Ubisoft's game is a film tie-in featuring Peter The Lord of the Rings' Jackson's latest spectacular and stars one of Hollywood's most famous monster icons.
A videogame based on a movie is usually something to Ixj extremely wary of, but this is no ordinary title, lieing a genuine creative collaboration between Michel Ancel (Beyond Good & Evil), Peter Jackson and his talented special FX crew Weta. The result is a short but extremely polished rollercoaster-ride of a game packed with genuine awe-inspiring moments of fear and wonder. And a f**-off big monkey.
Set in the 1930s, King Kong tells the story of film-maker Carl Denham (played by Jack Black - all of the movie's actors voice characters in the game), searching for the mythical Skull Island to make the epic that will save his career. In the game, he's accompanied by the Venture ship's Captain Hayes, struggling actress Ann Darrow, young sailor Jimmy and New York screenwriter Jack Driscoll, who you play in first-person. Right from the opening sequence, when you're being lowered in a rickety rowing boat onto an angry ocean, King Kong plunges you into the action - the intensity of the seasickness-inducing dash for the shore is actually reminiscent of the Omaha Beach landing in WWII games such as Medal of Honor.
Your AI-controlled compadres join you at certain points in the adventure and really contribute to the atmosphere and immersion of the game, even helping out in scraps with the local prehistoric wildlife, shooting enemies with spears and firearms and dragging injured parties to safety.
Each of the four characters has a distinct personality, ranging from Carl Denham's heartless wisecracks ("We desperately need to find the others - they'll have three cans of film with them!"), to Hayes' doommongering ("Had your fill of real-life yet?"). They also bicker between each other, shout and scream when they're in trouble and give you hints of how to solve puzzles and progress in the game. As always though, keep an eye out for their welfare, as a death results in a restart from the last save point.
Gameplay is straightforward and linear, guiding you through the dense jungle as you progress by finding wooden levers to insert into vertical wooden poles, then turned by you and a team-mate to open gates.
Hear Them Roar
Fire is a major element (ahem) too, and is used to clear harsh, spiky foliage from your path, as well as scare off or bum to death any carnivorous predators - of which there are a fair few lurking in the bushes and long grass of the island. These include bitey insects, bitey giant bats and bitey dinosaurs, which are without doubt, the most impressive in-game prehistoric lizards yet seen in a videogame - they make Turok's Io6k like household pets. The T-Rex has to be seen to be believed - a hulking meat-eating killer, wonderfully animated with salivadripping from its jaws and a terrifying roar that physically distorts everything in its vicinity. Fortunately, Jack has access to various meaty weapons (carried one at a time) such as shotguns, rifles and Tomniy Guns that can be fired by holding down the spacebar and pressing the left mouse-button. (Default left mousebutton only is for melee attacks, and for other stuff such as smashing through debris-blocked passageways.) Extra weapons and ammo can be gathered from parcels dropped by Captain Englehorn, a character who pilots a sea-plane and flies into the action from time-to-time.
Enter The Monkey
Obviously, however, the main attraction in King Kong is the 25ft giant ape himself, who yon control in third-person and view with a fixed cinematic-style camera. Kong is a massive lumbering animal, and yon really feel his huge weight and power when you're controllint) him in the game, but the silky controls mean you're soon deftly leaping from branch to branch, clambering up walls and jumping Chasms like a hairy Prince of Persia.
Hie Kong sections of the game involve the growing relationship between the big fella and Ann, as he protects her from nasty natives, dinosaurs and other enemies by flattering them about the head and neck with his fists. You can use a combination of left and right mouse button presses to punch, grab and use tree trunks and other objects to hurl at distant foes, while the mouse wheel can be used to charge up Kong for rage attacks. Yep, comliat is brutal - fur flies, limbs collide, claws rip into skin .md lilts' heads are bitten off, in wliat could a subtle tribute to Ozzy Osliotirne. The finishing moves are particularly excellent too - you can force open a (lino's jaws until they snap, for example, liefore Kong roars loudly with approval. Despite their button-mashing simplicity, the kittles are always spectacular events that will stop anyone passing your PC monitor in their tracks with a winceinducing display of animalistic violence. However, there's beauty in the beast -the way that Kong can gently pick up Ann with his right hand and place her down safely away from trouble is very touching and reminiscent of the non-verbal relationship between the laoy and girl in classic PlayStation 2 adventure Ico. Ann also learns through the adventure in the jungle into the urban sprawl ot NY to care about Kong's welfare, and will throw spears at his enemies and clear obstacles in his path.
It's obvious that I like this game - it has a big monkey in it for goodness sake - but is King Kong worth your Christmas cash? In cold analysis, you can criticise the fact that the shooter parts are somewhat unsophisticated compared to a dedicated FPS such as F.E.A.R., not possessing jump or lean keys, for example. Plus, the fixed camera in the Kong sections sometimes manoeuvres into an awkward position. There arc moments of dumb Al with dinosaurs running on the spot too, and you can die from simply walking into sharp jungle shrubbery if you're not careful.
Most importantly, King Kong is a game you can rattle through in no time - there's nothing here to challenge you if you found Far Cry "a bit easy". This is a console game at heart, and one to play sat on the couch in front of the TV in the afternoon, rattier than hunched over a keyboard and monitor at 4am.
However, even though we're yet to see Peter Jackson's King Kong movie (and can't say whether the game closely follows the film or not), Ubisoft has already delivered a cracking action-adventure packed with jaw-dropping (and jaw-breaking) set pieces, such as a truly frightening T-Rex attack on a rope-bridge and a brontosaurus stampede. Even though some of the textures aren't great - up close they can look rather blocky - there are still some beautiful jungle and city scenes with atmospheric lighting, cool particle effects and superb character and creature animation, as you'd expect from a development team with unfettered access to the might of Weta's special effects and art direction departments.
Kong is the ultimate anti-hero, and now you can play as him, you'll empathise with his tragic predicament oven more. Yep, King Kong is one very slick package and certainly the best movie tie-in game since TIk Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay. If only they'd thought to slap a wig and roller-skates on the big monkey fella, we could've been looking at a classic...
We ran a full review of King Kong's PS2 and XB outings in last month's issue, and after playing through this next-gen version, we can say that it's the same great game, just slightly prettier. Except when it's not--though we didn't run into issues ourselves, Ubisoft President Yves Guillemot told BBC.co.uk, "We have a problem on the 360. The screen is dark on some TVs and it totally changes the experience." Furthermore, the U.S. branch of Ubi is "actively investigating isolated reports of resolution issues on specific plasma screens," according to a spokesperson.
Kong, Kong! I think that filmmakers responsible for the original King Kong would've been floored that not only was their film being remade by one of this era's greatest directors, but that it'd also accomplished one of the most difficult o all things. King Kong has been made into a good video game, something nigh-unheard of for a franchise game. Joining few other titles, this is a franchise title that isn't just fantastic, it's a movie with video game legs. Light in some parts, and generally sparse in ways you wouldn't expect, this game survives on the strength of its narrative feel, and the sheer beauty of the visuals of this game.
Set almost entirely on the fearsome Skull Island from the motion picture, King Kong is a game of survival, both as human and as beast. The interesting part of this game isn't so much that you'll play through an interesting FPS, but rather that you're walking through a story that parallels the film in a way that makes the game enjoyable. There's actually very little narrative in the game, not a whole lot happens in terms of story; when the game plays through each scripted scene, it is stunningly entertaining. And in addition, getting the chance to play Kong is perhaps the most fun I've had in a very long time. By portraying him as a playable character, it makes him such a strong protagonist. It gives him the personality, the empathy that you need to tell his story so well. And make no mistake, this is Kong's story.
I cannot overstate that this game is beautiful on a level rarely seen in video games. The only drawback to this game's graphics are the human character modes, and even when they don't quite match the rest of the visuals, they're still quite excellent. Kong himself looks stunning, and the first time you see Skull Island during a storm, you'll wonder when you bought a ticket to the film. There's one scene, where Ann first gets taken by Kong, that shows light streaming through a sky thick with smoke, and it's simply beautiful. Let me put it another way. This game looks so good, I frequently mistake the beginning of a level for concept art. Paired with this is a stunning soundtrack, Hollywood quality voice acting, and several incredible roars delivered by the Ape Wonder of the World.
This game is beautiful, and sad, if only for the ending of the story itself. It doesn't offer much additional gameplay, has no multiplayer, and in exchange, a small smattering of bonus features. But then again, this game is like having a good burger. It might not be quite a meal in and of itself, but done well, it is truly one of the best things you could have. Definitely worth purchasing, if you're looking for a good Xbox 360 game.
Giant monsters getting modern-day makeovers--it happened to Godzilla and Anna Nicole Smith, and now it's King Kong's turn. Director Peter Jackson (the Lord of the Rings trilogy) is bringing the big ape from the 1933 and 1976 flicks back to the big screen this December, and Michel Ancel (Beyond Good & Evil) is doing the honors on the videogame adaptation. You play part of the game as Jack Driscoll, a squishable human (Adrien Brody in the flick) exploring King Kong's crib, Skull Island, a land lost in time. When you're not first-person shooting and adventuring as Jack, you're third-person pounding and smashing as Kong himself.
Awesome! We're as tired of movie-to-game lameness as you guys, but this one's different. The first-person bits were exciting and tense...with a sense of dread as you and your human companions are running through the dark jungle, escaping toothy dinosaurs, giant centipedes, and other lost-world dangers. But you're not just shooting anything big that moves. Rampaging Tyrannosaurus rexes nipping at your ass? Light a grassy field on fire with your spear torch to reroute them...or drop a juicy pterodactyl to get them to stop and chow, buying you a few precious moments. You're constantly thinking about the situation around you, because pure force isn't going to help you survive on Skull Island. Playing as King Kong could've been a game-design disaster, but when he's smashing through skyscraping wooden doors, lifting massive stone pillars, or tearing a velociraptor's two jaws apart, you really feel the raw sense of power and strength surging from the TV screen to your controller.