Platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox, PS2, GameCube, PSP, DS - Xbox 360 version reviewed.
Hey. Want to be in the year’s biggest movie? Great. There are a couple of juicy parts you might want to consider.
The first is a guy. He’s fallen hard for this girl. They end up stranded on this hostile, jungle island, full of giant creatures and – get this – dinosaurs. The guy ends up losing the girl; she’s kidnapped by these grumpy natives and sacrificed to some giant gorilla. So this huge, hairy ape takes her off into the jungle, and it’s up to you to save her. Capeech?
For the second role, you – you won’t believe this – play the gorilla. You’ve run off with the girl, but with all those damn dinosaurs around it’s no picnic keeping her safe from harm. You’re just trying to get her home, while mowing down everything in her path. There’s a lot of jumping, climbing, swinging and clobbering to be done but, hey, you look like an athletic type. I reckon you can handle it.
OK. I guess you want to hear more details. Well, Peter Jackson’s King Kong isn’t your average movie game. It’s not like those Harry Potter/Fantastic Four/Lord of the Rings jobs where the script strangely mutates into a scrolling beat-em-up with elements of the movie sprinkled on top like icing sugar. It’s a game that tries to put you into the heart of the King Kong experience; to stick you on Skull Island and see whether you can survive.
For the first third of the game, this experience puts you in the shoes of Adrian Brody’s character, Jack Driscoll. These segments seem to take the shape of a jungle-based first-person-shooter, but I actually think it’s more correct to call it a first-person-adventure. This distinction is important, not just because you’re doing more than just blasting goons with a range of enormous hand cannons, but because of the way the game makes you feel: like an average guy stuck in one of the most hostile environments imaginable, and with only some basic weaponry and your own wits to survive. Firepower really doesn’t work in many situations – the T-Rex laughs off your pitiful rifle shots, and it’s only by running and hiding that you have any chance of living through the encounter. Instead, use your smarts. Remember: Skull Island is a dino-eat-dino environment – a big one will stop to eat a small one if you drop it in its path – and that you can use man’s oldest invention – fire – to get you and your friends out of trouble.