Reviewed: December 1, 2005
Released: November 22, 2005
Another big movie out on the screens and another game to go in sync with it. Like many other movie-based games, Peter Jacksonís King Kong gives you the chance to play through the movie. Couple a great movie with an awesome developer like Ubisoft, and you are sure to get a game that is made for more than a few quick bucks.
You will have the chance to trek through a dangerous place known as Skull Island. As Jack Driscoll, you have been dragged along by Carl Denham, a producer with a vanishing career, in a last-ditch effort to revive his status. Also accompanying you are Hayes, a former infantryman from WWII, and Ann Darrow, an aspiring actress hoping for a lead role in Denhamís movie.
Production doesnít go smoothly though as crewmembers are killed by the sea and the creatures that inhabit the island. The cast and crew eventually stumble upon the island natives, who quickly offer Ann as a sacrifice to the mighty Kong. As Kong, youíll get to fend off enormous predators and protect your prized possession: Ann.
If youíve ever seen King Kong, then you will probably be familiar with the story of the game. You may have even seen parodies of it on The Simpsons or some other animated show. Basically, you travel to an uncharted island known as Skull Island. You discover many enormous and very dangerous beasts. The beautiful woman Ann that comes along is offered as a sacrifice to a colossal gorilla known as King Kong. Kong assumes the role of protector of Ann after it becomes infatuated with her. Kong is captured and returned to the states to be put on display. However, it escapes and runs amok, causing mayhem until it is eventually killed.
Youíll get to experience the short summary through a span of nearly half a day of playing. Youíll start off as Jack and become acquainted with the island and weapons. After a few hours of playing, youíll get a taste of playing as Kong. There are only a handful of levels where you get to be the gargantuan gorilla. But those are some pretty cool levels, especially when you get to snap the jaw of a V-Rex.
Your supply of ammo comes in spurts throughout each level. There is the occasional supply box hanging by a rope or on the ground that either contains more ammo for your current weapon or a new gun altogether. Even if you go trigger happy, there are usually plenty of spears and bones lying around for your disposal. Normally, such a primal weapon would not be expected to inflict a lot of damage on enemies. Throw a spear at the right spot, though, and you can sometimes take down an enemy in one blow.
One confusing aspect of the game is your health. It seems as though you could take dozens of attacks during a level and not die, or be killed after three consecutive hits. The best way to explain your health would be a rejuvenating bar. If enough time passes, it seems as though you are back to full health. If you get repeatedly bitten by a venatosaurus, then you can expect to die.
Your partnersí health works the same way as yours. If one of them is getting swarmed by megapedes, they wonít survive forever. Once you kill the attacking enemy, though, theyíll recover and act is if nothing happened. At times it seems awkward. Youíll see Carl getting mauled by a venatosaurus and then just go about his business in a seemingly perfect condition.
One thing that became really irritating were Jackís comrades. Many of the doors that you open need them to be there. At a few moments, they would miss a trigger in the AI script and not follow me. Iíd continue on with them still making comments as if they were there, and then Iíd get to a door to find that they were nowhere near me. Then you have to die and start back from the most recent spot and hope they follow you the next time.
Speaking of doors, finding the levers for the doors becomes exhausting. There are some cases where youíll have to backtrack a bit to get a lever. If you arenít paying much attention, you might not think to go back to a certain spot. Then you wander around aimlessly for a while thinking you may be overlooking something.
If you are used to the control styles of first-person shooters, then you should be able to adapt to the controls of King Kong fairly quickly. As Jack, you will rely mostly on the L and R buttons for attacking. As Kong, you will rely mostly on the A and B buttons to attack. The most complex move is probably Kongís B plus A power attack.
The jungle texture does a superb job of depicting the setting of the movie. Though some objects, such as skulls, donít offer much dimensionality, much of atmosphere does a good job of displaying an uncharted island. Looking down over a cliff gives a nice sense of height. You can see the spray of the rough waters when you look out over the ocean.
The load screens are very well done. Instead of the same screen over and over, a small clip is played showing parts of the level just completed and a glimpse into the next area. The animation of the load screens is beautifully done.
Some of the angles of gameplay are obstructive when you play as Kong. The camera will be in front, with trees or a cliff in the way, not knowing what or where you are being attacked from. Fortunately, Kong is powerful enough to usually survive these obscured onslaughts.
The ambient sound of the jungle is remarkable, especially in surround sound. You can hear the rain, the crackling of the fire, and the sounds of the crawling megapedes as they lurk around caverns. The thunderous booming of an approaching V-Rex can become tense once youíre being chased. Sometimes you can hear a lurking venatosaurus as it stalks you through the grass.
Jack Black adds a nice touch to the game with his voice. Some of the voice acting can be pretty weak, but itís still pretty decent for the most part.
Initially, you would think this game has a low value. The gameplay comes in with a little less than half a dayís worth. You could easily rent it today and have it beaten before tomorrow. There are some extras that you can unlock by scoring a certain amount of points for a level. Once youíve beaten the game, you can go back and check your score for a particular level and try to beat it if it isnít high enough.
The biggest boost to the replay is the fact that you can alter the outcome of the game itself by scoring a massive amount. Itís like having an alternate ending option for the game.
Being $49.99, I think that the game is currently quite overpriced. But it is worth more than a rental. If you can find a good deal for the game, then go ahead and pick it up. Itís a game worth playing through at least one time.
King Kong is possibly one of the most well-known beasts in the U.S., with Godzilla as a close tie. Even The Lost World: Jurassic Park follows a story very similar to the original King Kong. Many years after it was first released, gamers finally have a chance to wander around Skull Island and go heads up against a V-Rex. The game is short, but still fun. Itís definitely worth the time if you ever get a chance to play it.