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In King Kong the game, you play as both Jack Driscoll and King Kong, reliving scenes from the movie—as well as other events that weren’t in the film. Although the action is frantic, the overall experience is a stilted patchwork of sequences, lacking the movie’s compelling storyline.
You’ll play the first half of the game as Jack Driscoll, in a fairly typical first-person shooter. The gameplay is equal parts stealth and fast-paced action: You’ll find yourself battling giant bugs, dinosaurs, and snarling bat creatures.
Bullets alone won’t defeat these beasts (you don’t get much ammo, anyway), so you’ll have to be creative and use the environment and everything around you. In one particularly creative sequence, we used fish as bait to lure raptors into a bushy marsh, and then set the entire marsh aflame, sending the nasty raptors to their Cretaceous maker. In this part of the game, the action seldom lets up and is absolutely adrenaline-pumping.
The other half of the game is spent playing as the big boy—King Kong himself—and it’s a completely different experience. Aside from the scale difference, you’re perched high atop the food chain, easily smiting enemies that were a challenge during the FPS portion of the game. Dueling with several T. rex’s makes for some ferocious fighting, even if the camera isn’t always ideally placed.
Controlling the combat with a keyboard and mouse isn’t too difficult, but the button-mashing aspects of the game get frustrating quickly. Kong’s last few levels in New York are also too brief, and the final battle atop the Empire State Building is a letdown.
Unless you’ve seen the movie, the game doesn’t do a good job of conveying the narrative. The game’s biggest pitfall is its inability to capture the emotional connection between Kong and Ann that really comes through in the film. The jungle’s beauty and awe-inspiring spectacle are all present and accounted for, but the story lacks heart.
Month Reviewed: April 2006