It’s the atmosphere that gets you every time. Jack’s adventures are packed with terrifying moments. One minute you’re creeping through a dank cave packed with horrid, scuttling millipedes, the next you’re scurrying from fire-pit to fire-pit through a misty valley, while raptors race in out of the fog, teeth bared. There are times when, heart pounding, you’ll be sprinting in hoarse-breathed panic for the next spear, desperate to find something you can throw at an oncoming beast. Let’s just say that King Kong has moments of tension, fear, shock and grandeur to match anything else you’ll have come across this year. I just hope you can take the stress.
Still, you won’t be alone. The nervous chatter of your companions certainly helps maintain the tension, and your buddies are actually good in their supporting roles. When she’s not off with the ape, Ann is a big assistance, solving puzzles and spotting the route forward. Hayes is a fine shot with a rifle, and even that fanatical film-maker, Denham, has moments where he can help out. And for once, these guys actually bear some resemblance to their big screen counterparts. It’s not just that they have the right sort of look – they also behave as the parts demand.
Now, you probably want to know more about your second role. Basically, it’s a combination of platform-jumping and brawling, as Kong makes his way through the jungle and swats lesser creatures out of the way. It’s a big change from the first part, and not just because there’s a change of shooting style from first-person to a roving third-person view. Kong gives you a real sense of enormous weight, momentum and physical power. There’s something wonderful about giving the spear-throwing natives and ferocious dinosaurs who gave you so much hassle as Jack what for, and there are some nice puzzle moments where it’s time to put Ann down and hope she can help you through the next barrier. Admittedly, the combat scenes are a bit clumsy, with Kong’s battles either turning into massed brawls or slightly unimaginative button-mashing slugfests, but the worst bits are over fairly quickly.