Game Review: Peter Jackson's King Kong: Official Game of the Movie

by Pat Johnson

Most movie games suck. It's a fact. You only need to read my review of the Warriors to know just how rare a film-to-game transition is. Most are just a shameless movie promotion with little time spent making the game fun to play or challenging. Although, sometimes the game will have a lot of time, money and energy behind it, and suck anyway. See Enter the Matrix. Remarkably, King Kong is neither. It does not suck. In fact, it actually tries a few new things that work out pretty well.

The tone of the game is designed to give you the feeling of wandering around a lost land filled with the digital costars of the film (i.e. dinosaurs, giant insects, Kong). And playing the game is sufficiently creepy. There were times when I found myself spinning around blindly trying to see what was attacking me, with my shotgun at the ready and Adrien Brody's panting in my ears. The big insects especially have a high "Ah!" factor. And so, you spend your time throwing spears at T-Rex and running away while Jack Black yammers on about getting a perfect shot. Production value on the game is fairly high, with all the actors from the film doing their character's voices. Also, the jungle is well modeled and very pretty (especially on the Xbox 360).

There are other ideas of note that go into the mix. One nice change is that you have no health bar. If you get hit, the screen goes red and you start hearing Enya. If you get hit again before Enya stops, you die. Pretty simple. Also, you get to play as Kong as well as Jack (Adrien Brody) in FPS mode. So, you get the added perk of crushing dino heads and picking fleas out of your fur.

In general, there is very little to dislike about this game, but there are drawbacks. For one, it's wicked short. In less than 5 hours, you'll have saved the girl and returned to New York for your final fight: Kong vs. 1920's bi-planes. Also, the monsters are a little repetitive, but given drawback number one, it really isn't too big a problem. Overall, the game succeeds at being a fun, immersive movie game. It isn't perfect (or worth owning given it's length), but it is a perfect rental option.

Happy Gaming.

8 chest-beating roars (out of 11)