First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
PC Game -- Peter Jackson's King Kong
- — 03 February, 2006 13:57
Apparently, King Kong was the film that Peter Jackson always wanted to make, as it was the 1933 classic that inspired him as a child to become a filmmaker. Thanks to the success of Lord of the Rings, Jackson can pretty much take his pick of movie projects, but before he gets deep into games with a film adaptation of Halo, he's finished off his pet project and also helped to create one of the best ever movie spin-offs.
His name comes before King Kong's in the title for a reason, as he gave the developers at Ubisoft's Montpellier Studios unprecedented collaboration and support, with assets from Weta (his visual effects company) being integrated directly into the game. The end result looks top notch.
The game's visuals are a sight to behold (Click here to view a screenshot), making this one of the best-looking games released, even on the ageing PlayStation 2. The environments on Skull Island are suitably epic and foreboding, and you'll be immersed in the adventure from the very first boat landing cinematic.
The cast likenesses are all extremely realistic and usually you'll be accompanied by at least one AI-controlled character, which will often play a crucial role by using abilities your own character may lack.
For most of the game you'll play Jack Driscoll, the writer of the film being shot on Skull Island before things go amiss, but as the action is first-person, your face remains unseen. While controls work fine, there are some omissions: you can't run, jump or climb. But combat is fun, with limited ammunition making for some tense encounters. But it's not all about shooting. Why not set the long grass on fire? Or use small animals to distract larger predators in search of food?
Jack isn't the only character you get to play - yes, you get to be the legendary ape, using your agility and strength to battle dinosaur enemies and rescue your love interest, Ann Darrow. Despite his size, Kong moves fluidly, swinging through canyons, climbing up walls and breaking the jaws of huge reptiles with ease. He also has Fury Mode, where he'll beat his chest and knock out enemies with increasingly powerful blows, adding much-needed variety to the game.
In addition to key scenes from the film, King Kong the game provides extra scenes that didn't make it to the big screen. As well as the classic climax (which may feel all-too brief and slightly underwhelming), you can experience an alternate ending if you manage to complete 100 per cent of the game.
A fantastic game, with brains as well as eye-candy. Pity it's so short.
Visuals: Excellent atmosphere and environments.
Audio: Despite dropping Howard Shore, the audio score is great.
Gameplay: A little easy in places, and Jack's moves are limited, but great fun while it lasts.
Score: 4 1/2
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier