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SummaryKing Kong is a seat of the pants ride that will keep you entertained, but will let you down at the end.
The GoodThe graphics were fantastic and the sound was engaging. You felt immersed without the HUD.
The BadThe New York sequence was dreadfully short. Some of the characters, Jack Black's character in particular, phoned in his performance. It is a short experience, no more than six hours at best.
The Bottom LineYou look out into the clearing and feel a bit apprehensive. You feel an unnerving sense of something dark that lies ahead. You walk down the steps of the ruins, hearing the rustling of debris falling down around you. Something is watching you. Suddenly, a dinosaur comes out at you fangs exposed. You reach for a spear nearby as the beast charges you. How can you possibly survive this island.
This is one of the scenes that you will come across in Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie. First off, the game will now be referenced as King Kong, because there is no way I am typing the acronym PJKKTOGOTM. King Kong traces the path of the movie from beginning to the end. I have not seen the movie, so I am not sure how faithful it is to the movie, but it did not hinder my game experience in anyway.
The game is a port of the console version, but does have some graphical upgrades. You play through the game as two people. First is Jack Driscoll, an aspiring writer that has been picked by Carl Denham to help script out a movie. I don’t know the reason why they are going to Skull Island to film the movie, but they decide that they are going there. Of course they almost crash and then bad weather strands them on the island.
At this point, you start to notice the nice graphics in the game. The backgrounds are very detailed and the beasts look amazing, especially King Kong. Graphics as a whole are quite nicely done. The shaking of the screen when a V-Rex or Kong bellow or rage, to the fog effects and weather effects of the game, it is all a blast to look at and watch. Problem for me was that the game was moving so fast in the beginning rushing you from place to place, that you did not get to appreciate the lush look of the game. But if you have a good graphics card, you will be treated by a great looking game.
The interface of the game also bears some mention. There is none. There is no health meter, weapons screen, ammo screen at all. You do get cues, like Jack telling you how much ammo you have left after each reload, or the screen flashing a crimson color after each hit. It is a real feat to pull off, but I have to say that I did not miss having the HUD and it actually made for a more cinematic and immersive experience.
The game plays out in a first person style while you play as Jack Driscoll and the mission structures are fairly linear. Monsters come about at certain trigger points and disappear if you move back from those trigger points. The levels are well designed and have a good flow to them, but as I said earlier, the game seems to move rather briskly in the beginning. The pace however slows down a bit when you get to the big guy. That’s right boys and girls, you get to play the Eighth Wonder of the World, Kong.
And it is a blast to play Kong. He is a powerhouse of an ape. And he will wreak absolute carnage upon your enemies. Kong looks absolutely amazing and the art style that they used to create him in the game was fantastic. His attacks were a bit quirky and I normally had to resort to a gamepad in order to pull of the rage attacks, because I could not get them coordinated with my mouse. But his levels start to slow down the game a bit and let you view in amazement at how the game looks. Also, the Kong levels switch to a third person view which allows you view his visceral destruction from a more abstract perspective. There is something quite satisfying about watching the big boy destroy everything is sight.
Sound is another factor that bears mention with King Kong. The sounds are really good with nice ambient sound of the jungle surrounding you. Also, the music queues you a bit when danger arises which is a nice thing, because when the beasties come, they normally will surprise you the first time. At least once or twice, I was taken out of my seat due to the sound of a V-Rex or a Bat that I hear but just could not gauge the direction.
I mentioned it a little bit before, but I wanted to mention the control scheme. While the mouse and keyboard works well for the first person sequences, but when I switched to Kong, I have a lot of frustration with the Rage mechanic. You are supposed to work Kong into a Rage to finish the bigger beastie bosses in the game. Problem was that I could not Right click and hold the mouse while scrolling the mouse wheel up. It really took me out of the game the first time it became necessary. But I solved the problem by using my gamepad which worked out nicely.
After reading all of this so far, you have to think that this is a 4.5 star game review. Well, Unfortunately, the game takes a sharp detour once you get to New York. I don't want to spoil the game, so I will just say that it is a letdown after the time you put into the game.
I should note, that the game does give you unlockable items that you get for your score and for completing the game. I have to say that I was not really drawn in by this and it could be because I was not really interested in the movie. Most of the extra content has to do with the movie.
King Kong is a visual treat that gives us a good game that is paced a bit too fast and ends rather anti-climatically. You will enjoy the most of your game play, but in the end will seem a bit bummed by the copped out ending sequence. You will have fun with the game and I do recommend it. I just wish the ending would have been better.