"And now, ladies and gentlemen, before I tell you any more, I'm going to show you the greatest thing your eyes have ever beheld. He was a king and a god in the world he knew, but now he comes to civilization merely a captive - a show to gratify your curiosity. Ladies and gentlemen, look at Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World." - Carl Denham
It's always hard to approach the game of a movie when the game is available before the movie its self. How can you compare the use of the characters or the adherence to the plot? How can you determine if the game lives up to the movie? Well, since I can't attempt those things, I'll just have to review the game as a game and let it stand on its own merits. What a radical idea, eh?
So is Peter Jackson's King Kong
, published by Ubisoft, the eighth wonder of the gaming world? Well, no, not really.
Let me explain, first some background. I'm not a die-hard FPS fan. Oh sure, I've played Doom, Quake, Alien Breed 3D, Far Cry and the rest of them, but not to excess. I really love adventuring games, Tomb Raider, Primal, Price of Persia, even God of War, these are the games I can happily spend noticeable percentages of my waking hours playing, exploring and solving puzzles in.
Kong Kong is, to my mind, somewhere in between the classic FPS and the 3D action adventure game. There are a few puzzles, certainly a lot of set piece action sequences and a lot of creeping through tunnels. There's also a lot of mowing down enemies with Thompson sub-machine guns and shotguns, sniping and, surprisingly, spear chucking involved with Kong. In these sequences you play as Jack Driscoll, Hollywood script writer by profession and hero by circumstance. The trouble is, there aren't enough puzzles to keep the adventurer in me interested, there are no dead ends, no mazes, no complicated machines that need re-building and turning on. On the other hand, there aren't enough enemies, or bullets, to keep the blood-thirsty action hero in me satisfied either.
After an introduction comprising the first minute or so of the film trailer, the game begins with you in a boat being rowed towards a forbidding island. This is Skull Island and you have just arrived on the good ship Venture along with your companions in order to make a film. The expedition is led by Carl Denham, who looks a lot like one half of Tenacious D (possibly the 'D' part, but hopefully the Tenacious part) and carries a film camera around with him at all times. The rest of the important characters are Ann Darrow, scream queen extrodinaire; Hayes, the first mate of the Venture and Jimmy, who appears to be a cabin boy of some sort. As you approach the island your boat is destroyed by a falling rock and you pass out. Amazing how these things always seem to happen to the characters in computer games, the worst that would happen to the rest of us is that we would arrive ashore safely, only to slip and fall into the water trying to disembark, thus indelibly staining our new trousers on some sort of sea-weed juice. You wake up on the beach, wet and without a clue as to how you are going to get back to the ship. And so the adventure begins.