Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie
Critic Reviews add missing review
Average score: 79% (based on 78 ratings)
Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 56 ratings with 3 reviews)
Peter Jackson’s King Kong is a mesh of two game types: the first-person shooter and the third-person platformer. The FPS levels star Jack Driscoll, a playwright whose investment in the game’s events grows as he falls in love with lead actress Ann Darrow. The third person levels star Kong. Kong is also in love with Ann, and his climbing, jumping and brawling levels often find him saving her from primeval dangers.
A quick montage, culled from the film, explains why director Carl Denham is filming a movie on Skull Island. The game opens with the Venture dropping anchor off Skull Island and lowering rowboats loaded with crewmen and Denham’s film crew. As the boats head toward Skull Island, the player learns the camera controls—looking around frantically as the boats are rocked by waves, careen towards ominously carved rocks, and are done in by crumbling rock formations.
Jack and company recover from the battering at sea only to find giant crabs and centipedes waiting for them on land—the thrill ride continues. King Kong is a thrill ride, with only a few areas giving the player a chance to explore and enjoy the Michel Ancel trademarked beauty of Skull Island. For all its dark caves, rocky outcroppings, dense jungles, vermin-ridden swamps, and ruined cities, Skull Island is a wonder to behold. Even before considering the fauna.
Skull Island is populated with life (perhaps more than it could possibly sustain) and understanding how the food chain works is a major aspect of the game. The monsters of Skull Island, insects, dinosaurs, flying beasts, and more, use food as their motivation. Some puzzles spring off from this concept: like luring creatures away with food, but it is also important in terms of survival. Jack’s portions of King Kong largely focused on protecting his party, opening pathways, and defending locations.
King Kong has a HUDless display. When Jack or Kong become injured the background music changes, they slow down, and their vision begins to fade. Pressing a button reloads Jack’s weapon or has Jack give a report on the amount of ammunition he has left. Ammunition is scarce on Skull Island. Ammo and guns are dropped from a biplane, but Jack ends up relying on makeshift spears for good chunks of the game. Luckily spears can be set on fire to boost their effectiveness and this also leads to a series of interesting puzzles where Jack must use fire to clear a path or dissuade dinosaurs.
Jack and Kong’s stories are told concurrently. Some levels will have Kong fleeing with Ann and others will have Jack searching for her. The change between gameplay modes is often refreshing. As a human, there’s little Jack can do against a V-rex (spears are rumored to slow them down). As Kong, the player can grapple with them and break their jaws or backs. Jack can flee from the natives’ spears, but Kong can destroy their villages.
While Jack’s levels are often fierce struggles for survival, Kong is comfortable near the top of the food chain. It is possible for Kong to die, especially as overwhelming hordes of winged creatures tear into him, but he also can fly into a rage, moving faster and doing more damage. The Kong levels, especially the New York ones, reminded me of nothing so much as the Hulk. Fortunately, the bulk of the gameplay is focused on Jack. Jack’s levels have more variation, more scope, and further the story. Kong’s levels are refreshing breaks from being a puny human.
If King Kong has any trouble spots, they stem from pushing the limits of a legacy system and from losing Jack in the New York levels. The graphics in Kong are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, but my PS2 struggled to keep up during frenzied action scenes and creatures were often locked into a room, preventing them from pursuing me.
King Kong has always had a schism between Skull Island and New York that runs deeper than the one between Oz and Kansas. The New York levels lose the Venture crew, who we’ve grown accustomed to during the bulk of the game and Jack disappears (save for a bonus level leading to an alternate ending). This is surprising, since Jack plays a big role in the movie's New York scenes. By focusing solely on Kong, New York levels become very short, very objective oriented, and—frankly, anticlimactic for the majority who are aware of the ending.
King Kong has been criticized for being a short game, which is never a criticism of a bad game. The main story takes about six hours, but the game’s length is extended by replaying earlier levels to improve your score and unlock bonus content. Unfortunately some of the bonus content involves an annoying requirement (ala Beyond Good & Evil) to visit Ubisoft’s King Kong web site and enter in an Internet code to get another code to enter into the game.
None of these quibbles prevents King Kong from being an astonishing game.
The Bottom Line
Games based on movies have three obstacles to overcome. First, they are often tied-in to a release date and suffer from flaws that may have been ironed out during a longer testing process. Second, their source material dictates their content—this knife cuts both ways, either the game acts as a spoiler or is too watered down (occasionally the game wanders so far from the source material you wonder why anyone bothered). Finally, there is usually no intended audience beyond the completists who want to experience the entire franchise, see Fantastic 4 (MobyScore 1.2 ) for details.
Peter Jackson's King Kong deftly avoids all three of these pitfalls, resulting in a game which could easily stand on its own.
PlayStation 2 · by Terrence Bosky (5375) · 2006
The graphics were fantastic and the sound was engaging. You felt immersed without the HUD.
The 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 Line
You 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.
Windows · by mclazyj (28) · 2006
The first thing that struck me when playing this game was the intro, using clips from the film.
The second thing that struck me when playing this game was how the characters transferred, all look pretty true to the film, except perhaps Ann Darrow, who looked a little iffy, and all are voiced by the original actors, so excellent and authentic voice acting then.
The very beginning of the game puts you straight in the shoes of Jack Driscoll, leaving the Venture to row ashore to Skull Island, you’re alongside in a small wooden row boat with Carl Denham and Ann and a couple of others, the rain's beating down and the swell’s rocking you’re boat as Englehorn shouts down from high up on the Venture's bulwarks. Denham, true to character, starts filming as the boat struggles to avoid crashing against the rocks on the approach. It’s very atmospheric and very well done, a great start.
You end up washed up and staring up at Ann, you actually have to press the forward key to climb to you’re feet before you can get around, a small touch but nice attention to detail.
This game is a game of survival when playing as Jack, and it does the action very well, very tense, you will run out of ammo, and you will have to resort to using improvised spears (and real spears left by the natives) to fend off the attacking dinosaurs and other hungry creatures. The use of fire is a novel inclusion and it works far better than I expected, it’s handy for clearing areas to allow passage to other areas (destroying any creatures in its path, including you). You can also bait some enemies by spearing some of the smaller inhabitants of Skull Island to distract them as you run past. The characters will all hold their weapons above their heads when wading through deep water and on occasion you’ll have to provide cover for them (they’ll also provide cover for you).
One section involves running between, or trying to, the feet of some very large stampeding Dinos, similar to the film. Some of the Dinosaurs are huge, naturally, and they can look pretty breathtaking when you first cross paths.
I enjoyed playing the Kong levels on Skull Island, lots of jumping from cliff face to cliff face and snapping Dino jaws, Kong also has a frenzy mode (achieved by spinning the mouse wheel for awhile) which makes it easier to knock out enemies, and quite a few other moves under his belt as well.
Once you get to New York everything really is rounded up very quickly and I got the impression that the game was under pressure to be finished and out the door.
The Bottom Line
Lots of atmosphere, for the most part a very well crafted game. Jack’s levels are the highlight and there’s some un-lockable goodies available from the Extras menu. But a bit disappointing when you get to New York - there is, however, an alternative ending, available from the Extras menu, I didn’t earn enough points while playing through the game to unlock this but I read up about it in a few walkthroughs and it sounds pretty cool, mayhap a good excuse for another play through. If you liked the film or Michel Ancel’s (Creative Director) previous game Beyond Good and Evil than you should enjoy this. Mostly very good if not excellent.
Windows · by Jack Lightbeard (2685) · 2006
Contributors to this Entry
Critic reviews added by Jeanne, Wizo, Marko Poutiainen, Yearman, Big John WV, nyccrg, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, Scaryfun, Xoleras, Cavalary, Jacob Gens, Tim Janssen, COBRA-COBRETTI, Ronald Diemicke, chirinea, Alsy, Link Ramza, RhYnoECfnW, Emmanuel de Chezelles, Alaka.