Peter Jackson's King Kong Review
PIII 1000, 256MB RAM, 1.5GB HDD, 64MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Nov 22, 05
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Peter Jackson is rapidly becoming one of the biggest names in Hollywood. After proving his abilities as a movie-maker with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the talented director set out to realize his life-long dream - filming King Kong. The plain truth is that the prosperous 44 year old director achieved such standing that he could probably make a sci-fi flick about dog poo and still generate positive feedback from a majority of fans and critics worldwide.
Me eat planes for dinner, yum, yum!
Come here you dino freak!
Pete also admits to being a keen gamer himself, which is one of the reasons why he insisted on being involved with the development of the King Kong video game. Having acknowledged the not-so-popular (but solid) multiplatform title Beyond Good and Evil, Pete expressed the desire to cooperate with Ubisoft producer Michel Ancel. He recently revealed his discontent with the way EA handled the design of the LOTR games. Refusing to allow the director's creative input, EA completed the project independently, at the same time legally borrowing creature designs from Weta Workshop (Jackson's special effects company that currently rivals companies like ILM). According to PJ's manager Ken Kamins, EA's marketing scheme was to brag about the involvement of Weta and PJ, even though that didn't actually happen.
Putting EA aside, the famed director began to cooperate more closely with Ubisoft, contributing to the making of the King Kong video game.
The first thing that grabs the player almost right at the beginning is the apparent Peter Jackson feel to the whole ride. If you've enjoyed the spirit of movies like The Frighteners and Lord of the Rings, you'll probably feel right at home when playing King Kong.
As expected, the game doesn't expose any specific scenes or story details, so as not to spoil the upcoming blockbuster movie. (That's in case you think there never was an original "King Kong" movie to begin with. - 2Lions) In other words, the game pretty much focuses on the sheer cinematic feel. Players are immersed deep into the wonders of Skull Island, the alleged homeland of a long gone civilization. The basic story follows an ambitious filmmaker Carl Denham as he arrives to the island, seeking a unique way to fulfill his vision and create something the world has never seen before. Carl struggles to stay in the movie business, so he resorts to radical measures, venturing with his crew further into uncharted territory to film his masterpiece. During his journey, he is accompanied by newly discovered and would-be actress Ann Darrow and screenwriter Jack Driscoll. Segments of the game let you play as Jack, while sometimes you get to control Kong himself (no introduction necessary).
Some of you might disagree with the idea of playing a game with a somewhat vague plot. In truth, the whole adrenaline-pumped ride through jungles, caves and canyons leaves very little room for any elaborate story telling. You are driven by your own survival instincts throughout most of the game and believe me there's sort of a natural feel to it all the way. Ammo and firearms are occasionally dropped by a friendly aircraft, but you'll mostly have to manage with simple melee weapons like sticks, spears, bones from rotted animal carcasses, etc. Relying on these methods of survival is quite exciting and challenging, especially when you're armed with a little pointy stick while facing oversized dinosaurs. That's usually a good time to creep into a hole to avoid being detected. Frequent use of objects in the environment helps you out of tight situations. For instance, if a passage is blocked by thorny bushes, you can grab a wooden spear, light the top and burn your way through. Also, any creatures caught in the fire will perish, and then it's like killing two birds with one stone. Plus, it often happens that you have to use one spear to take out an enemy. Once you've thrown the spear, pick it up and throw it at your target again. Doing that several times will wear out the spear, but if your attacks were on target, you have nothing to worry about. Yet, if you missed, that would be an excellent time to make a brake for it.
This approach is actually a praiseworthy change over the typical arsenals in modern-day shooters. The problem is that the developers used it frequently throughout the game, so it becomes a bit tedious after a while. This also raises the question of mission design. I had to utilize spears and fire repeatedly in many sections in order to get out of tight situations or locate concealed doorways. Moreover, players follow a strict and predetermined path throughout the entire game, without having to choose different routes to their goal. So, it's really a linear journey, devoid of any optional side-missions or alternative routes.
You won't get bored, that's for sure. Challenges practically lie around every corner. The main characters are often the prey of numerous hideous creatures that roam the island. There are many ways to fight them and that may not necessarily involve killing. Instead you can equip a sharp melee weapon, stab a huge worm or flying insect and use it as bait for larger creatures. However, do not expect this trick to work every time - if animals catch your scent, the plan will fail and you'll quickly become the prey again.
In most cases, the AI showed a pleasing variety of tactics. Huge enemies like T-Rexes do not always fall for the run-and-hide tactic. If you hide behind a decrepit wall, they will smash it down, leaving you more open to attack. Smaller dinosaurs exhibited rather intelligent behavior as well. A few times I threw a dead worm to lure them into the grass (so I can torch it later on), but instead of taking the bait, the creatures went around a huge wall and jumped right behind my back (giving me quite a startle). While there's a decent AI at work here, I noticed some hitches in NPC behavior. Characters can, for example, get stuck in crevices and corners, refusing to budge - sometimes characters got wedged and kept running without actually moving (that really looked pathetic).
"Jacksonesque" atmosphere, game gripping at times, beautiful environments, neat weapon ideas, playing as Kong;
Linear, way too short, no replay value, gameplay novelties tend to be overused.