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However, I ought to warn you that this isn’t the sort of movie where you can make up the script as you go along. Whether you’re playing Jack or Kong, there’s a pretty set path to take, certain actions that need to be taken in sequence, and not much you can do in terms of thinking outside the box. In fact, the Kong segments often make you feel like you’re on rails, swinging from branch to branch then leaping to the wall because there’s really nowhere else for you to go. It all comes down the experience: if you get into it, you’ll find it’s a hell of a ride.
It helps that the production values are so high. No expense has been spared on the jungle locations, which are just beautiful. Skull Island is full of gloomy, water-logged caves and narrow canyons, but it’s also full of magnificent vistas, sprawling vegetation, fascinating ancient ruins and stunning waterfalls. The visual effects are excellent, and the enormous beasts are beautifully realised. The T-Rex is huge and terrifying, and while Kong himself could do with a little facial work, you can’t fault his bristling hair, his rippling muscle or superb animation. Perhaps there are times when the critters seem to have trouble navigating that gorgeous scenery, but this doesn’t really spoil the illusion. It’s also worth noting that the Xbox 360 version gives you some of the most impressive rain and weather effects I’ve ever seen. The sound and music is equally good, with a strong original soundtrack that rivals that of the movie and some blood-curdling roars from the bigger carnivores. When it all comes together – the visuals, the audio, the atomosphere, the action – King Kong has the power to take your breath away.
OK, so there are a few quibbles. At times the gameplay hits you with a real curveball, and you’re struggling to find the right solution (or just something you can throw and cause some damage). At least the checkpoints are sensibly placed and there are times when the game seems to adjust to match your own skills (or lack of). It’s also not a game that I can imagine coming back to once you’ve played it for the ten to fourteen hours it takes to finish. What counts, however, is that this is one big screen blockbuster that hardly ever lets you down, and that actually makes you want to rush out and see the movie. So go on, take the roles. I’ve enjoyed them, and I think you’ll feel the same.
There is a very slight, niggling sense that you’re only playing a part in a story, but if so it’s an experience to treasure. A mighty, chest-beating monster of a movie game.
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