King Kong Review
I was a little apprehensive the first time I sat down to play King Kong. Not so much from a leftover childhood fear of giant apes (giant clowns are another matter, though) as from having to endure a long line of mediocre to awful movie-licensed games. Much to my surprise the game hooked me in pretty early on and quickly quelled my license-phobia. It may not be the best game out there, or not even the best movie licensed game ever for that matter, but it does do a better job of making you feel like you’re actually taking part in a movie’s storyline than any other game I’ve ever played before.
Let me start with what King Kong does right as it does it well enough that the game is certainly recommendable to most gamers. You take on the role of Jack Driscoll, the screenwriter who takes part in the misguided attempt to do a location shoot on the mysterious Skull Island. Come on, did they really expect things to go well in a place with “Skull” in its name? Accompanying you on the island are filmmaker Carl Denham and starlet Ann Darrow, which caused constant confusion for me. You see, Carl Denham is played by Jack Black in the film, and he’s lent his voice and likeness to the role in the video game. So every time a character shouted out “Jack”, I would turn to Jack, I mean Carl, and just stare at him in anticipation of him responding or doing something interesting. Sheesh. Anyway this is no fault of the game’s and in fact the blame rests firmly on the shoulders of some overpaid certified casting director somewhere, but I digress. Anyway, what’s really cool about all this is that you’re really in the role of Jack Driscoll. There are no health meters, ammo counters, or anything else on the screen; all that you see is what Jack can see. When loading a gun, your character will tell you exactly how many bullets remain. There are no aiming reticules for the guns cluttering up the screen either (the game compensates for this by taking a “close enough” approach to your shooting). If you run uphill too fast you’ll even hear yourself breathing heavily (time to cut back on the smokes, Jack). You never see yourself in third person during cutscenes or story elements either; everything is played out in front of your eyes as you stand there and witness it.
Another thing I really liked about the game is that it kept the action moving at a brisk pace. King Kong is a surprisingly short game, but it doesn’t try to hide this fact by artificially padding out the gameplay – for the most part at least. You’ll face some sort of fight or crisis, work your way past it, run to the next area, and you’ll be back into the middle of action in no time. Sure it’s all very linear, but things move along quickly enough that you don’t have to take the time to notice this. When you’re under attack the attacks can be fast and ferocious, leaving you little time to catch your breath from the last battle you fought.