Review by BlackWizards

"More an experience than a traditional game"

The first thing to remember about King Kong and the thing that will determine whether you enjoy it or not is that this game does not seek to challenge you in the conventional sense. It seeks to draw you in and make you experience the film. Judging this game by the standards one would use to judge a normal game is to entirely miss the point of this, yet at the same time if that sets off warning bells for you, chances are you will hate this game. Allow me to explain.

The game is rather obviously based around the Peter Jackson film of the same name and follows the plot broadly enough though it takes liberties here and there to ensure it translates to the videogame medium well enough. For much of the game you take on the role of Adrian Brody's character Jack, though from time to time you get to play as Kong himself. Each section has it's own individual feel and adds to the experience.

And as I have already said it is this experience that is important. If you can easily be sucked in and engrossed by a game, this may very well be for you, if you aren't so easily, you may as well forget it, because you will spend your entire time lamenting the fact that this does not behave as you would expect a game to behave at all. First of all and most obviously, as every reviewer of this game leaps to remark, there is no HUD; you have to rely on visual clues to play. Your health is determined by the character's breathing and when you get really badly hurt red flashes and music plays. Your ammo is judged by pressing a button and hearing Jack shout how much you have left etc. Depending on your perspective this will either suck you in to the world completely making you feel as if you really are there in the jungle surviving on your wits alone or it will prove an irritation, making it seem difficult to judge how well you are doing.

Secondly and more significantly the game is virtually no challenge at all. In fact it all but plays itself. Checkpoints are so frequent dieing rarely matters and health recharges extremely quickly. Most important of all, the game will not allow the experience to be ruined by you getting stuck. If you fail at the same point multiple times, the game will go as far as t remove enemies and give you extra weapons and ammunition to help you succeed. As has been said so many times already in this review, if you are looking for a standard video game challenge this is not a good thing.

However if you buy into the magic of Kong this is truly wonderful. It frees you from the constraints of videogame irritations and allows you to dive right into the experience. And what an experience it is! You will marvel at the wonderful visuals pushing the Gamecube to its limits, you will feel immersed into the jungle from the highly realistic sound affects. And you genuinely will panic when you are trying to fend a predator off armed with nothing but a sharp stick.

You will feel grateful for the help of your allies as they progress through the jungle with you, and will feel isolated and vulnerable when you are on your own. You will feel exhilarated when you escape from the clutches of a V-Rex armed with barely more than your wits, and at many stages you will feel nearly powerless to deal with the threats that face you.

And then you get to play as Kong. Playing as Kong is the polar opposite to playing as Jack. As jack, you have to keep your wits about you and spend as much time fending foes off than actually killing them. As Kong, precisely nothing can stand in your way. The Kong stages play pretty much exactly as you would expect stages featuring gigantic killer gorillas to play. You pound through the levels killing everything that gets in your way. The levels are incredibly linear. Even more so than the jack levels, but again that really is not the point. They are more like a roller coaster than anything else. You pound through the jungle canopy and deal death to anything in your way. You feel as powerful as you are, indeed returning to Jack armed with a grand total of a sharp stick and a pistol without any ammo can come as quite a shock. But of course you end up getting engrossed in the experience of Jack all over again.

And so to scoring the game. While playing it the answer feels obvious. It deserves ten out of ten. No question about it. However away from the Gamecube and in front of the keyboard a more sober assessment has to be made. While to me the experience was wonderful I have to recognise that many will not like this at all. They will find it too linear and too easy. And far to short. Yes, there we have the great flaw that even the games greatest fans cannot deny, you will finish it quickly. I did it in two days. Though those two days were spent playing it fairly solidly. And the replay value is limited. There is no denying that. Finally it has to be mentioned the very last section of the game is a complete pest and leaves a rather wonderful game with a less than wonderful ending. Which is a great pity. Though that particular flaw can hardly count against it too much, given it only accounts for a tiny proportion of the game, which need hardly be done anyway.

So in light of these flaws the game gets eight. Though scoring it at all is a bit of a futile exercise. As I said at the start, this cannot be judged in the way one would normally judge a game. And whether or not you will enjoy it is entirely down to you. If you are looking to experience the film, and believe me this is possibly the game that finally achieves that old “interactive movie” holy grail. This is perfect for you. If you are looking for another First person Shooter, keep on looking.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/28/06

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