King Kong Review
Anyone that has seen the recently recreated movie King Kong by Peter Jackson will instantly feel at home, as this game starts off as the ship is located just offshore to the mystery island. After a brief explanation of the story so far, explained by using clips from the film and a well spoken voice over, it’s time to take your first steps onto the island that you will soon be desperate to leave.
Unfortunately simply walking onto the island would be too easy, therefore shortly after leaving the ship you will be knocked unconscious by falling rocks. Ann Darrow wakes you as you lay on the shore of the island coated in mist; confused and dazed you get to your feet. This is where the adventure begins.
The first thing you will notice is that there is no HUD of any kind, nothing. Whilst this may worry some, the game does a fantastic job to provide more than enough information at all times concerning ammo, health and so forth. For example every time that you are low on ammunition, you will be warned that a specific amount of clips are left. This helps bring you deeper into the game. One of the best features of the HUD-less design is death. Upon being attacked by an enemy you will breathe deeply, the screen will go red, and objects will blur. This creates a fantastic intense panic that is likely to make even the most confident of gamers panic.
The many monsters that you encounter range from fast paced bugs that spring out of the smallest holes to a mammoth Tyrannosaurus Rex which provides the single option of running for your life. Whenever an enemy shows itself, it will always be in a dramatic fashion that will either shock or scare. This makes for a fantastic fast paced game that never lets the action die down.
To defeat these monsters you have in your possession one gun and the ability to hold bones or spears. There is fantastic balance throughout the game never leaving you too frustrated, but certainly never giving you the easy option of endless ammo. You will find the majority of your time is spent throwing spears at anything that moves, running for another spear, and then stabbing it in the head before it has time to get its revenge.
This however is not the only way to play the game. You will be given the chance to live the life of Kong himself at several stages of the game. There is nothing better than being able to rip a tree from its roots, beat a massive dinosaur with it, and then pin him to the ground whilst you break his jaw in half. Whilst literally beating you opponents to a pulp, you will also get to scale walls, swing around ledges and climb buildings, exploring the world from the eyes of a 25ft gorilla.
Whilst working through the game you will unlock secret content, most of which will be artwork (that is uniquely shown from an in-game perspective in an underground “art gallery” cave). A nice touch to the unlockable content, are special display modes. The first display mode allows you to play the game in black and white format, which is a nice feature considering the original movie. The other display mode flips the screen horizontally to give a different experience if you were to play though the game again. After you have completed the game, you can go back and complete each level individually earning a score as you do so, this score again can translate into more secret content, the best of which is an alternative ending.
Graphically the game is fantastic, with an atmosphere that is hard matched, especially being one of the early titles on the Xbox 360. Whilst some could complain that there is a lot of texture re-use throughout the levels, each level still feels fresh and matches well how the movie looked itself at each new scene. One issue with the game graphically could be the poor character hair, which makes the leading lady look like a toilet brush – which is fine if that’s your type of thing.
Audio wise the game is of a similar quality, fitting the scene well and taking advantage of every possible opportunity to make the action more intense. Be it the thunderous roar of Kong, the heavy breathing of impending death or the screech of a giant scorpion as it strikes you from behind, the audio does a fantastic job of keeping you listening carefully at all times. Without sound, the experience would not be close to the same quality, and you would certainly have a hard time surviving.
Whilst the game is fantastic whilst it lasts, that is its major downfall – the game does not last very long. The average gamer can easily complete the title in a single day, not because of the lack of challenge (as the game has fantastic balance as previously mentioned) but simply because the story soon ends. Without any additional multiplayer and little reason to replay after the first completion (all achievements would have been obtained by this point) the game will most likely find its place on the shelf collecting dust.
Overall, King Kong is a good title that shows film to game translations can work well if done properly. The game provides an atmosphere that is extremely immersive and an intense experience right to the end. However it may be wise to rent instead of purchase, especially to anyone that the film does not appeal too, simply because of the short lifespan of the game.