Review by UberSweet

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

Michel Ancel, the man who put the developer/publisher Ubisoft on the map with Rayman, and cult hit Beyond Good & Evil, has indeed made Ubisoft one of the largest video game companies as of recently. Ubisoft continues to publish and develop smash hits, all due to Michel Ancel's imaginative environments and great characters. Of the many people who found Beyond Good & Evil to be a phenomenal game, Peter Jackson is one of them , or as some might call him, “The Lord of the Rings guy.” Now with the release of Peter's new smash hit, King Kong, these two powerful men came together (although it was on Peter Jackson's prerogative), to create a mostly excellent game, yet it's also disappointing at the same time. Much unlike Peter's movies, ‘Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie,' (it will surprisingly not be referred to as PJKKTOGOTM though) is too short, and doesn't carry much emotion.

At the beginning of King Kong, you'll be on an escape boat to Skull Island, where you, Jack Driscoll, and your crew: Denham, Ann Darrow, and Hayes want to film a movie there because Denham heard that mysterious creatures live on the island. It's too bad he didn't know they'd be highly dangerous as well. When everyone manages to get on the island, you get attacked and must defend yourself, and your crew. Surprisingly, about 70% of the game has you control Jack Driscoll. There's a decent arsenal of weapons, including a pistol, shotgun, sniper rifle, and a machine gun. But the focus isn't on just using guns to kill your enemies; you will need to use your spears and bones from dead dinosaurs. While sometimes tense, the action can get dull due to repetitive enemies and monotonous fetching of sticks and bones to kill your enemies.

To break up Jack Driscoll's ‘explore and kill' themed levels, some might have, although no one could possibly consider them, ‘puzzles.' At these points, you either A) have to burn the bushes that block your way by lighting a spear or bone (please, I don't understand it either) on-fire, and ‘jab' it towards the bush. B) Find the required keys to open the locked gate. These points in the game will make you want to groan, along with the raft missions! Although they only occur twice in the game, these raft missions are basically ‘on-rails,' meaning you can't move; only aim. These are also the only times where you, Jack Driscoll, fight off the natives. Unfortunate? Definitely; if the natives were a more common enemy, they would prove to be much more of a threat due to their higher ‘brain capacity.' Not to be racist, though.

About an hour into the game, you'll finally get to control the beast himself: King Kong. Because of Michel Ancel's vision, the King Kong segments becomes this game's prime motivation; they're both viscerally satisfying, as well as graphically impressive. As Kong, you will climb, swing, and kill your way to the love of your life, Ann Darrow. The platforming feels like watered down Prince of Persia segments, and by all means, that's a compliment. When swinging on a branch, you don't even need to time your jumps, but you will need to when hanging on vines attached to walls. While the platforming plainly rocks, the feeling when you grab a dinosaur's head and snap its jaw is definitely the most satisfying action I've ever done in a video game; the combat reeks with satisfying moments like these, so I don't want to ruin it all for you. You can also start pounding Kong's chest to make him go into ‘Kong' Mode, which covers the screen with a yellow-tinted filter, and the camera zooms-in every time you attack an enemy; pure, visceral satisfaction.

Due to repetition, the game gets very boring and mundane, and drudges on for far too long. If there was more variation, I'd be happy if it were longer, but in current state it's in, supreme editing of the later levels would've helped…dramatically. A surprising amount of the later levels had to just running; no enemies, no puzzles (which would've been great, that is if they were deep), all there was, was constant yelling because of Ann. The biggest flaw of this game, though, is just how awkward and anticlimactic running around New York City was, using King Kong. What was a pivotal part for both emotion and action in the movie, becomes a drab, and clumsily made open-world aspect that feels abandoned. The entire game up until this point is linear, thus making it feel not in-place with the rest of the game. This could possibly be the biggest disappointment of 2005. Once this miserable ending ends, you can replay some of the older levels to unlock some useless secrets, even though all but one is worth your time.

While not always tense and fun for that matter, you do feel a sense of immersion when playing this game. There is no HUD (but you can turn it on if you'd like) so you can't your health, redical, or ammunition. To make up for this, if you get hit enough times, cinematic music will start playing and the screen will flash red. For the lack of a redical, it's much easier to hit enemies. Lastly, at the touch of a button, you can find out how much ammunition you have because Jack Driscoll will say something like, “Four magazines on back-up!” Although it's not necessary to make yourself go through the game not knowing these things, it's a nice change of pace from most games out there.

Sometimes beautiful, but mostly drab is the perfect way to describe the visuals in the game. Most of the levels have you running through forestry areas, which soon get repetitious due to the fact how unvaried most of the locals are in the game. Most of the Kong segments are drab as well. But at other times, the game can be truly breathtaking, which becomes a nice change of pace. It's a shame the most visually impressive environment is towards the end of the game; there just aren't enough of these points in the game. And while the visuals mostly don't impress, the sound always seems to. Every character has multiple pages of dialogue, which makes them seem more realistic; the dinosaurs sound especially realistic and truly frightening at times. It's shameful that none of the emotion of the movie seemed to find it's way into ‘The Official Game of the Movie.'

From the best gaming moments ever to the most disappointing ending of 2005, it's odd that Michel Ancel directed this game; it doesn't seem to carry on his legacy too well. It's also odd to see that Peter Jackson's official game is short, while all of his movies are 3+ hours long. Variation, anyone? The King Kong segments brought me the most satisfying experiences I've ever felt as a gamer, while they also brought me disappointment. All that can be said is that King Kong is all over the map; it's both amazing and disappointing.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/11/06

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