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Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie (Xbox) artwork

Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie (Xbox) review


"Peter Jacksonís King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie is a ridiculously long winded title, but itís much better then virtually every movie-based game. Developed by the team behind Rayman, King Kong is a single-player adventure that packs a punch. Yet, simple gameplay, gorgeous graphics, and playing as Kong make up for its faults, and it represents what movie-based games can be. "



Peter Jacksonís King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie is a ridiculously long winded title, but itís much better then virtually every movie-based game. Developed by the team behind Rayman, King Kong is a single-player adventure that packs a punch. Yet, simple gameplay, gorgeous graphics, and playing as Kong make up for its faults, and it represents what movie-based games can be.

King Kong is composed of linear missions, which are divided by the two main characters. About three-quarters of the time you play as Jack Driscoll in a first-person perspective. Jack is trying to survive treacherous Skull Island and rescue his love, Ann Darrow. These levels have a tactical feel to them and move at a slower pace. They are entertaining but pale in comparison to what you do the in the other levels. In these levels you swing, run, and smash your way threw Skull Island as King Kong in a third-person perspective. Itís more fun to play as Kong than Jack, because of entertaining combat and a faster pace. Unfortunately, there are simply not enough Kong missions.

As Kong you are always doing one of two things: fighting enemies or exploring Skull Island. Combat is simple, yet challenging and fun. Your only fighting moves are punching, charging, grabbing, and finishing moves. These can be combined into combos that make combat easier, and it may seem simple, but you feel empowered while playing as Kong. You fight Velociraptors, Pterodactyls, and V-rexes [which look like T-rexes]. Tearing apart a V-rexís is jaw is one of the most satisfying moments youíll ever experience. When not fighting off foes Kong races through the jungle. Kong climbs columns and walls, swings from rocks and vines, and runs on walls.

However, the bulk of the game is played as Jack Driscoll, a playwright from New York. Unlike most first-person games, there is no HUD which causes you to feel like youíre stranded on Skull Island with them. Youíll see the palm trees, mountains in the distance and the weapon youíre carrying, which consist of sticks, bones, spears, and guns. Ammo is severely limited, so youíll be relying on sticks and bones to get through each level, which make for a unique experience. If needed, Jack can use his fists, but he doesnít pack much of a punch compared to the tough outer skin of a Dinosaur.

Fighting the enemies can get a tad tedious, so to break this up youíre often paired with Carl Denham, Hayes, Jimmy, or Ann Darrow. They have interesting lines that are funny and add to the story, helping to break up the monotonous tone. You often work with these partners to move obstacles out of your path, like closed doors and bushes. Yet, these puzzles lack variety and challenge, which makes the game a tad repetitive. Additionally, the ally A.I. is well done, as they defend themselves using guns, spears, and anything else they find, making the game not too hard or too easy. They also move for cover and higher ground to gain advantage. Unfortunately, the enemy A.I. is not as strong. For some reason the dinosaurs donít work in packs, and just mindlessly run at you. Sometimes they donít even take a direct route to get to you, making it even easier.

This easy pace allows you to finish the campaign in five to eight hours, which unlocks the bulk of the extras. And as far as extras go, games donít get a lot better then this. You gain unlockables by using online codes, completing King Kong, and replaying levels to earn points. Points are given based on time of completion, damage taken, and enemies killed. The most significant extra is an alternate ending, which will make Kong fans happy. There is also a movie trailer, artwork, and interviews, including one with Peter Jackson. This extra content adds some nice replay value.

Graphically, King Kong looks sharp. Characters like Jack, Ann, Jimmy, and Carl all look terrific and comparable to their real-life counter-parts. All of the environments look wondrous, especially when moving through a murky swamp surrounded by tribesman. The Island is filled with waterfalls, rickety bridges, and monsters, which all look terrific. The monsters look like evil dinosaurs out to get you, especially the V-Rex. There are some frame-rate issues, and some levels are unnecessarily dark. But itís easy to overlook these flaws, because of how good the rest looks.

Part of what makes the characters feel real is the excellent voice work, performed by the actors from the movie. In addition, the soundtrack is orchestral and strong, adding to the immersion by having you hum along. King Kong sounds terrific when he pounds his chest and roars after tearing apart a V-rex. The game sounds even better if you have Dolby 5.1 surround sound, which brings Kong to life. Other great sound effects include you swimming through the swamps and rivers, hearing waterfalls splashing, and a spear hurling through the air. The only sound problems are the gun and enemy noises, which are repetitious. Otherwise, King Kong sounds excellent and adds to an already enjoyable experience.

Peter Jacksonís King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie is a thrilling adventure that keeps the spirit of the movie alive. It looks great, sounds better, and you get to play as the King of Skull Island. Something about tearing wings and breaking jaws makes the game worth the price. Any fan of the movie or action-adventure games should seize themselves a copy of King Kong.

Rating: 8/10

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Community review by ghostyghost (August 15, 2006)

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