Hippo Manchester
December 15, 2005

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Games: Peter Jacksonís King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie

Ubisoft

XBOX/XBOX 360/PS2

A

While I may not agree with Peter Jacksonís reinterpretation of classic film I am grateful that the 600 hojillion dollars spent bringing the hairy ape back to the big screen also funded a sweet game.

But Glenn! You hate movie-tie ins! Thatís true, little slugger, I do. With the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, I hate movie tie-ins. Shakespeare would say that I bite my thumb at them. But PJKK:TOGotM has snuck itís way onto my XBOX and I intend to keep it.

Two factors make Kong a keeper. First it was developed by Ubisoft under the direction of Michel Ancel the director of last yearís best adventure title, Beyond Good and Evil (possibly one of the best action-adventure games of the past decade). Ancel kept tight reign on the presentation and gameplay. You spend the majority of the game as Jack who fights his way through the deadly environs of Skull Island to rescue Anne Darrow from King Kong. Jackís play style is distinctly first-person shooter minus the health meters and ammo readouts that often clutter the field of play. When Jack gets hurt the screen flashes red and your controller rumbles. When you need to know how much ammo (and you will need to keep close tabs on it) Jack has, you ask, and he tells you. Simple choices in presentation that erase the barrier between player and game. The immersion in such a well designed environment as WETA digitalís vision of Kongís homeland is so engrossing that I screamed when the first freaky bat/monkey thing flew at my face. Donít worry, I stabbed it with a handy spear.

It gets better though.

You also get to control King Kong throughout the game. Kong is really strong and likes to break the jaws of Tyrannosaurus Rexes. Which frankly, they deserve cause they keep trying to eat Anne. Thatís whack, I mean what the hell did Anne do to them? Damn Tyrannosaurus. See, itís easy and fun to empathize with Kong. Especially when he screams and pounds his chest and your screen shakes along with his temper. Ultimately you, as Kong, must meet his fate and do your best to swat down pesky biplanes from atop the empire state building. Pesky biplanes.

The controls are smooth and responsive, the puzzles simple, the action frantic and well tempered with foreboding and anticipatory tension. Simply put this is a great game for veteran gamers, Kong fans or even first-time players. It presents a rewarding, exciting and challenging journey through the superb Kong plot without frustrating the player with backtracking or unnecessary interface confusion.

Ė Glenn Given