There's something to be said for the summer gaming lull; few top titles are released and there are seldom any major announcements. However, it is the perfect opportunity to revisit some of those oft-neglected games. And last weekend, I did just that!
On my shelf, caked in dust, sat Peter Jackson's King Kong - which coincidentally was shown on prime time television on Saturday. Seeing the giant ape bounding about Skull Island trying to (understandably) eat a very irritating Jack Black planted the seed in my head that I really should give the game a go. Before I knew what I was doing, the disc was already in the tray...
I must admit, I never expected the game to be much good - film tie-ins rarely are - and being released in the Xbox 360's early days didn't fill me with much confidence either. Sadly, it pretty much lived up to my expectations. This also made an appearance on the PS2, original Xbox, Gamecube and PSP but, I'm reliably informed, the 360 version was the best example.
I'd not bought this at full price, in fact I'd found it for £3.99 second hand...but after the first few missions I wondered if I'd paid too much.
It's not that it looks too bad, especially given its 2005 launch. In fact, referring to a few forums while writing this, the general consensus is that everyone thought it was a really good-looking game. Kong is suitably large, hairy and angry looking, the environment is moody and atmospheric, while the dinosaurs and insect beasties are pretty well drawn. Collision detection isn't all that though, and many a time I found myself plunging off a cliff to my death, or getting stuck on some scenery as I tried to evade a hungry creature.
For fans of the movie there are plenty of cut scenes - and because this is an official game, many of these are apparently the genuine voices of the cast - albeit coming from slightly ropey character animations with abysmal lip sync. These sequences do tend to warble on a little too long and there's no option to skip through them (probably a cunning way of extending its pitifully short lifespan of around six hours!).
Sound effects are decent as well. As mentioned before, the voice acting isn't half bad...and there are many rumbles, shrieks, screams and Kong-like bellows to accompany you on your quest.
But none of this really matters, does it? Everyone knows that the main reason most people play this is to get their grubby mits on 1,000 easy achievements. There are no challenges or collectibles here, simply make your way through each mission and by the end sequence you'll have totted up a healthy gamerscore.
I may have been overly critical when I started playing this. As I made my way through a few levels I actually kind of enjoyed it. Granted, the puzzles aren't exactly taxing... but there are some nice touches, like lighting a torch and setting bushes and bracken on fire to clear a path, or distracting a charging dino by throwing some bait in its path. However, all the backtracking required to find a small piece of wood that blends into the scenery so you can open a door proves more than a little frustrating at the fifth time of asking.
Unfortunately, King Kong just oozes linearity and there's little chance to stray off the beaten track and explore... It's not a tough game, and you'll be sat in front of the screen for only about twice as long as the actual movie - and then you'll probably never replay it!
Ultimately, for a few quid it was enjoyable fare... but there are so many other games out there that are far, far better. I honestly couldn't recommend it.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Posted by AndyB