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King Kong review

This junglist massive is sure to hurt heads

Oh, it's big all right. And loud. Scary? You bet. And we'd happily lay down a monkey on the chances of it clambering to the top of the charts tower, and hammering its pecs with pride.

But Peter Jackson's King Kong, just like old leather hands himself, is all mouth and no trousers. Ubisoft's game has decided it wants to be a movie, and stumbles into all the 'interactive film' traps possible.

King Kong is essentially just a first-person adventure, but the visuals (the foamy seawater is incredible) conjure up an atmosphere that makes it seem like so much more.

Kong's a cinematic journey to make your eyes burst. Skull Island is breathtaking, and your first half hour of gunning down mutant octopi and pinning colosso-caterpillars to trees with spears will have you drooling.

Your onscreen mates are a great touch, too. The voice acting's superb, and you really feel that you're part of a team as Jack Black and co throw you weapons and scream for help.

But having to rely on your team for directions ("This way!") exposes King Kong's fatal case of falling into the same traps as The Getaway.

It refuses to give you vital information such as a map, because that would interfere with the ambience. There's no radar (you'll have to spin around like Kylie to find the source of a dino's screech), and no sights, either. Spearing distant dino-bats is like throwing darts at the moon.

But the most important thing missing from King Kong is an actual game. Five minutes in, you're chucking spears, burning twigs and looking for wooden switches. Eight hours later, it's exactly the same.

Surprisingly, it's the Kong sections that are the most depressing. Yes, they're stunning. Every special effect and camera trick in the book is thrown on the screen as the King clambers over scenery and punches dinosaurs.

But it's the most basic beat-'em-up you've ever played. Often you'll find yourself simply holding the stick forward while Kong runs on invisible rails. It's beautiful, but boring and unchallenging.

King Kong fancies itself as a movie, but for the price you'd pay for the game you could see the actual film nine times over. Tear your wallet away from the visuals, or Ubisoft will really make a monkey out of you.

More Info

GenreShooter
PlatformGBA, Xbox, PS2, GameCube, PC, PSP, DS, Xbox 360
US censor ratingTeen
UK censor rating12
Release date2 December 2005 (US), 2 December 2005 (UK)