King Kong Review

Among the gamer community it's a general rule of thumb that video games based on films usually turn out to be average at best, terrible at worst. This can often be blamed on game producers rushing out the game as a product to meet specific deadlines (I.e the release of the film), usually without any creative input from the film's creators. Thankfully, there are some exceptions, and I'm going to talk about one stellar example today: King Kong. Or, to use the game's proper title, “Peter Jackson's King Kong The Official Game of the Movie”.


There are two game-play types. Firstly, the are the levels where you play as Jack Driscoll. These take up the majority of the game as you explore Skull Island in search of Ann Darrow. While these sections are in first-person, the game-play is broken up into combat, survival and environmental puzzle-solving, leaning more towards the latter two. While the player does get access to guns, they are few and far between, making them feel like a godsend when all the player is armed with are spears, sharp bones, their wits and their reflexes. The spears are an integral aspect of the survival/puzzle elements of the game; the player will use them to fend off weaker monsters, grab some insects to serve as distractions and to set fire to otherwise impassible thorny bushes. The game manages to immerse the player with a dangerous, foreboding atmosphere that will test their skills in challenging set-pieces (seriously, try to remain calm and rational while being chased by a T-Rex).


The second aspect of game-play are the levels where you get to play as Kong himself, which is exactly as fun as it sounds. Controlling Kong feels suitably weighty without being cumbersome as you swing and climb around Skull Island beating up dinosaurs and other monsters. Combat is far simpler in these sections with one main attack button and brutal finishing moves. The Kong sections play into the broader “power fantasy” aspects of video games, especially when compared to the vulnerability the play feels when playing as Jack.


While certainly a product of their time, the visuals hold up and are suitably murky, creating an atmosphere of dread similar to the film. The animation and behaviour of the various creatures are seemingly natural and lively. The soundtrack, while not particularly memorable, still manages to enhance the game-play and mood. The voice acting is noteworthy, since it features the original cast of the film along with new dialogue recorded for the game. While it is a short game, especially by today's standards, it's definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of the Peter Jackson film or are just after some solid survival-based game-play.


King Kong is available on Xbox 360Playstation 2GameCube and the original Xbox

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© A L Harvey