Peter Jackson’s King Kong

February 7, 2006

Without a doubt, [i]King Kong[/i] was one of the best movies this year. Like almost every movie, it was inevitable that it would receive a videogame based on the film. We all know that most movie-based videogames are usually crappy, but [i]King Kong[/i] was in the hands of Ubisoft, a company responsible for such great games as [i]Splinter Cell[/i] and [i]Prince of Persia[/i]. This was a big relief because Ubisoft is a company I trust, and they don’t often let me down. The task was hard: make a game based on a very good Peter Jackson film. Did Ubisoft succeed?

[i]King Kong[/i] is a unique first-person game. I’m not really going to call it a first-person shooter, mainly because you don’t use your gun as much as in traditional shooters. You’ll often have to rely on spears instead of your gun. With the spear, the game is much more intense than pumping some creature full of lead. The spears were also useful when you could light the end and set bushes on fire to clear the path, or just roast up some dinos or other nasty creatures Skull Island has in store for Jack Driscoll and the other members on the journey. Your weapon is not always drawn; you need to press a specific button to draw it and another to shoot. Another way that [i]King Kong[/i] separates the player from other shooters is the lack of ammo, little variety of weapons (pistol, shotgun, rifle and Tommy gun) and the ability to carry only one weapon (plus a spear). I found that quite dumb because it’s possible to carry a pistol and then another weapon, but I’m not going to lose sleep over this aspect.

Another thing that makes [i]King Kong[/i] a unique game is the lack of any HUD. There is no health bar, no crosshair, no nothing. You have to rely on your instincts. Of course, players who find this too hard can turn it on in the options menu, but that robs [i]King Kong[/i] of its cinematic experience. When you get hurt, the screen will turn red a bit, and if you get hit again, you die. If you manage to stay alive until the screen goes back to normal, it will be as if nothing happened.

Playing as Kong is a totally different experience. You go into third-person mode, and you use your fists to fight. You can relive epic moments of the film as Kong versus the T-Rex (and you do this much more than in the movie), or as you fight for your survival in New York. You often have to protect Ann (the female protagonist) or fight off enemies while she does something (usually burn a blockade so you can proceed).

I didn’t really like that the game barely follows the film. Yes, we have the concept that Carl Denham’s filming crew and some sailors get to Skull Island where Ann is captured, and then she gets taken away by Kong, and then Kong gets captured and gets taken to New York, etc.-but basically, nothing goes on as it does in the film. I found this quite strange and misleading, but it’s up to the player to decide if he or she likes it or not. I know I didn’t.

The graphics look nice on the PS2. Although at times, the game slowed down a bit, it still looked quite nice. I found the water effect disappointing and ugly. Perhaps because of the swampy water, perhaps not-it just wasn’t nice. On the other hand, the fire effects were nicely done. The characters looked a lot like the actual people on whom they were based from the film, which was a nice thing, and they were nicely portrayed in the game.

The music was pretty good; however, I felt it lacking. It was well done and orchestrated, but when compared to other works like this, it’s nothing special. The noises that the animals and beasts made on Skull Island were cool and added to the cinematic experience. The voice acting is done by the real actors, which is a good addition.

The game does have some flaws. An example of a bug is when I got to a place where I should’ve been with Carl and Hayes, but I wasn’t, and there was nothing for me to do; I couldn’t go where I was supposed to go, or go back. I decided to save and quit, and when I reloaded, Carl and Hayes were with me, and everything was rolling. Not a major bug, but it should have been fixed. I also hated it when I was with other characters when playing Jack, and they would decide to run ahead and not bother to wait up for me, so I had to go wondering around where they might be. Also, after a while, the lack of scenery and objective change can make the game dull.

While the [i]King Kong[/i] videogame is a decent movie adaptation, you’ll beat it quickly, and there is no reason to go back for the extras (no multiplayer, which is up to the player to decide if it’s good or not). There is an alternate ending, though, where Kong lives, but you have to play the game a lot to get this, which most people won’t bother with. If you want to see a different kind of first-person shooter, mixed with some third-person Kong action, or if you just really enjoyed the film, then by all means, rent this game. Overall, I think Ubisoft made a fairly decent game, and I hope they will have more movie adaptations in the future.

Score: 2/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.