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Game: Peter Jackson’s King Kong
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Year: 2005
Reviewed: 2007
Platform: PC
Genre: FPS
Reviewer: ValkyrDeath

Warning: This review contains bad puns!

King Kong Rafting
The crew take some time out from fighting for their lives to enjoy some gentle rafting.

Oh dear, this can’t be good. A game based on a movie license. And not even a film that sounds like it could make a decent game. It has everything going against it. By all rights, this should be an absolutely dreadful game. But somehow, it isn’t. King Kong manages to be one of the more interesting FPS games of recent years, and its only major failings are its short length and disappointing segments involving playing as Kong himself.

Perhaps describing it as an FPS is slightly misleading. Technically it’s accurate, but the game doesn’t really ape the standard shooter. You’ll find yourself running away from dinosaurs as often as actually fighting them, and even when fighting, you tend to spend more time grabbing spears to throw at them than actually shooting them with the guns. As well as being throwable, you can also set fire to the spears to burn away obstacles and try to hold off dinosaurs. It becomes more like a game of survival.

It also genuinely feels like you’re taking part in a classic adventure story. This might be a short game, but it’s packed with great moments, from fleeing down paths as natives rain flaming spears down on you to escaping down a river on a raft as huge dinosaurs chase after you along the banks, you tend to move from one huge set piece to another, with barely a moments rest between them. The dinosaurs are the main foes of the game, especially the V-Rex. Yes, V-Rex, not T-Rex, since on Skull Island, dinosaurs didn’t stop evolving, so the Tyrannosaurus Rex has now evolved into the even bigger, scarier and more ridiculously named Vastatosaurus Rex.

King Kong on top of building
New York offers many great sights to see. We don’t recommend this as a sensible way to view them though.

While the FPS sections make up the bulk of the game, you still get to engage in some gorilla warfare by taking control of Kong himself. For these sections, the game switches to a third person perspective, as you swing through the jungle and beat up dinosaurs. While playing as Kong isn’t bad, it’s ultimately disappointing for several reasons. Firstly, swinging through the jungle doesn’t take any skill at all, since no matter where Kong has to go, you can basically get through the entire section by pushing forward and occasionally pressing the spacebar when you come to an obstacle or place you need to jump from. Also, the combat ends up being nothing more than hitting the fire button to hit the dinosaurs until they’re finally killed, at which point you get to see Kong perform some sort of finishing move, like tearing the dinosaur apart at the jaw. Thankfully, there’s not too many of these sections, and they’re alright for providing a bit of variety between the intense survival portions.

Graphically the game isn’t bad, although it is slightly annoying that a version with superior graphics does exist for PC, but is available for download only. It takes a large amount of extra space, and needs much higher system requirements, but surely this could have had some release in the shops. So I have to settle for the inferior version provided in the box I bought. Still, it’s adequate. The actual sound is very well done throughout the game, and the voice acting is all fairly good.

After you’ve completed the game, a scoring system kicks in, where you can play through the levels again gaining a score which will eventually unlock bonus features when you complete the game. The bonus features are mostly nothing special though, although it does eventually allow you to access an alternate ending. Of course, it’s no spoiler that in the main game, Kong dies at the end, since if he didn’t, it would sort of defeat the purpose of basing the game on the film. The game ends in the same way as the films, with Carl Denham saying the famous lines about it being beauty that killed the beast. Of course, he’s wrong. No matter how much he might deny it in every film, it wasn’t beauty, it was a load of men in biplanes firing large quantities of bullets.

Save System Review: Uses save points, but they’re very close together and the game isn’t too hard anyway, so it’s not too much of a problem.

Arbitrary Final Score: 3.5 stars

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