Author Topic: a love leter for Peter Jackson's KING KONG  (Read 2715 times)

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Offline wandering

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a love leter for Peter Jackson's KING KONG
« on: January 23, 2006, 09:25:45 PM »
 Peter Jackson's King Kong is one of the finest survival-type games ever produced.

It takes the best parts of both Halo and the Resident Evil series.

From Halo (and other recent games, Half-life, etc.) we get cut-scenes that integrated into the game. I can't begin to tell you how well this works. Most games these days still feature NPCs that act like human beings in cut-scenes and robots in-game. Here, realistic conversation among the characters is constant - at one point, as you approach this (awe-inspiring) herd of brontosauri, your first mate says something like "this not good enough for your movie Carl?" and Carl responds "What? Oh, right," and then proceeds to take out his camera and start cranking. Maybe that doesn't do anything for you, but, for me, that gave me this visceral thrill. And the whole game is like that - you feel like the npcs that are traveling with you are real people. But I'll get to that later. I was saying something about RE?

Oh, yeah, from resident evil we get the pathetically small amount of ammo from the earlier RE games, and the gigantic action set-pieces from RE4. That was it.

Okay, back to NPCs. In addition to their chatter, where, as I was saying earlier everything is hashed out in-game, including talk of what might lie ahead, and what's happening with Ann and kong, etc - stuff that'd be relegated to cheezy cut-scenes in a lesser game. In addition to that, the NPCs are actually useful to you in the game. In that, they actually help you defeat monsters. In fact, in another of the game's many visceral thrills, there are certain sections of the game where you'll have to swim through monster-infested waters, completely vulnerable (you can't shoot while swimming), as your teammates blast away at fast-approaching enemies (and then, of course, you do the same for them.)

....Oh, and did I mention that the NPCs are voiced by the original actors? And that nobody phones in their lines? The NPCs are fantastic, and really make you feel like they're real people.

Also fantastic are the enemies. Not just because the developers managed to re-create all of the cool creatures from the film, including the cut-from-the-movie mutant crabs, but also because their behavior is well thought out. The enemies are interested in you, but never especially so. Maybe that's not such a big deal in this day and age, but, hey, I'm used to old-fashioned Nintendo. So I appreciated that enemies are equally interested in all the humans, and not you, particularly. And that that they are interested in other prey - and will hunt smaller creatures, become interested in other enemies that you kill, and even fight members of their own species. And that they don't magically know where you are at all times. This game appreciates realism.

...and speaking of, one of the game's more interesting traits is that there is no on-screen iconography. None. No aiming reticule. No health bar. No bullet counter (Jack will call out how many bullets you have when you press the x button). No objects that flash to tell you to pick them up. No exclamation marks to indicate enemy surprise. The only bit of artificial help is the occasional pop-up message that tells you what button you may need to press.

...and the focus on realism doesn't stop there. You can only carry one weapon at a time (Carl somehow manages to pack a weapon and his camera). You can't take very much damage (get hit once and the screen starts flashing red. Get hit again and the dramatic music starts. Get hit thrice and you're dead. You regain health automatically.) Weapons aren't just lying around - they come in boxes that Englehorn drops from his plane (yeah - I know, pretty dubious. but better than nothing.) And when you run out of ammo (and trust me, you will. a lot.), you have to use spears and sharp bones that just happen to be lying around everywhere on the island (yeah, I know, even more dubious. but the point is, you feel restrained in your combat options, which adds an air of believability to the whole thing.) And when a t-rex comes a knockin', no, you aren't going to be able to take him down (at least not as a human), and yes, he really can kill you with one bite.

And then there's the island itself. Let me just say, that we've come along from Donkey Kong 64's pathetic excuse for a jungle. Even though the game is pretty much entirely on-rails, the jungle feels completely real, and, more than that, is just incredibly beautiful. And it has everything: light streaming through trees, hanging branches, fog, the occasional sweeping vista, the whole nine yards.

And then there are so many other things I want to mention, like how cool it is to see alot the big set-pieces from the film in first-person from Jack's perspective. Or all the small details that impressed me, like Jack's nervous breathing throughout the game, and the small fmvs they use to hide load times. There are a million other things a want to mention, but the point is, all of things that I've mentioned, add up to make you feel, as much as possible, that you are there, on Skull Island. Not as a superhuman secret agent with a million special moves and weapons, but as a lowly screenwriter, desperately struggling against the monstrous denizens of the island. And it's a good feeling.

Before I wrap up, I guess there are some other things I should mention. For starters, you'll probably find it strange that you can handle gigantic dinosaurs, but are stopped cold when it comes to the awesome power of prickly bushes. Prickly bushes which must be burnt down with fire. Fire that must be gotten by increasingly complex and ridiculous ways you progress through the game...as no one, it seems, brought any matches.
....but I didn't really mind. Solving puzzles to burn down bushes is no more artificial that what you have to do in your average zelda dungeon.

Then there's the graphics, which are amazing but have some rough spots. Like Anne's hair. Or, more seriously, like the almost constantly stuttering frame rate (which I didn't really mind - I'm not a stickler for frame rate, so long as it doesn't dip below unplayable levels, which, in this case, it never does), and occasional fog/pop-up in large areas.

Oh, and you can play as Kong. But I assume you knew that already. It's fun, but, the fixed third-person camera is really wonky, and, in general, the Kong levels tend to feel unpolished. The game probably would've been better if they had been removed from the game and maybe just included as some kind of bonus.

...Especially in the case of the endgame, which definitely should've been from Jack's perspective (as cool as seeing Kong's unveiling from Kong's eyes is.) At the end, you run through a nicely atmospheric but woefully under-developed New York towards the Empire State building. Which sounds fine, until you realize the game expects you to follow a linear path through NY that Kong is never given a motivation to follow, all the while bashing through large grates that are blocking your path for no apparent reason and dealing with an especially horrible camera.

Oh, and the game can be beaten in less than 10 hours. Boo fricken hoo.

Overall, on a scale of crap to great, I give Peter Jackson's KING KONG The Official Game of the Movie a score of especially good.  
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Offline vudu

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RE: a love leter for Peter Jackson's KING KONG
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2006, 08:48:03 AM »
Quote

Oh, and you can play as Kong. But I assume you knew that already. It's fun, but, the fixed third-person camera is really wonky, and, in general, the Kong levels tend to feel unpolished. The game probably would've been better if they had been removed from the game and maybe just included as some kind of bonus.
That's the first time I've seen someone say that about the game.  Most reviews seem to think the Kong sections are the best part of the game.

The game looks really great.  I really liked BG&E, so I'll probably pick this up eventually.  However, I'm going to have to wait until the movie comes out on DVD, so it'll be another year for me at least.  Unfortunately, I might just have to skip out on it because Revolution should be out by then, and I'll probalby have my hands pretty busy.
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Offline couchmonkey

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RE: a love leter for Peter Jackson's KING KONG
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2006, 07:32:59 AM »
Sounds good!  I'm not really a King Kong fan, but I will try to keep this one in mind.
That's my opinion, not yours.
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Offline Hostile Creation

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RE: a love leter for Peter Jackson's KING KONG
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2006, 07:38:26 AM »
I've been considering this game, but I have a lot more to take care of before I can get around to it.
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Offline wandering

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RE: a love leter for Peter Jackson's KING KONG
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2006, 09:45:58 PM »
Quote

That's the first time I've seen someone say that about the game. Most reviews seem to think the Kong sections are the best part of the game.

Might be right. I think a lot of people like feeling on top of the world, as it were.

...I don't, particularly. I like feeling like I'm struggling against the odds in games....maybe because that way I can feel better about dying constantly. And while some people felt the Kong sections were good rewards for struggling through as Jack, I think I enjoyed the experience of the main game so much it was hard for me to see them as such. Especially so since I think I wound up dying more often while playing as Kong for whatever reason. And also because the mediocre camera during those sections really bugged me. And also because the Kong sections were, as far as I remember, the only places in the game that had 3rd person cut-scenes, and they tended to look bad and generally jar me out of the game.

For me, I felt rewarded when the game recreated parts of the film while playing as Jack, especially when said recreations weren't strictly gameplay-related. Like the time when you get to see the 'Scream Ann! Scream for your life!' scene (that was cut from the film) played out in front of you.

With that said, the Kong sections are still a lot of fun. Jumping from tree branch to tree branch, beating up on puny dinos, pounding my chest....sure, lots of fun.

Quote

However, I'm going to have to wait until the movie comes out on DVD, so it'll be another year for me at least.

Well, the game doesn't really spoil much, except maybe who lives and who dies (Kong dies. Jack doesn't.) The adaptation's pretty loose.  
“...there are those who would...say, '...If I could just not have to work everyday...that would be the most wonderful life in the world.' They don't know life. Because what makes life mean something is purpose.  The battle. The struggle.  Even if you don't win it.” - Richard M. Nixon

Offline vudu

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RE: a love leter for Peter Jackson's KING KONG
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2006, 08:04:42 AM »
Yeah, I already know the basic storyline, as I've seen the original.  Perhaps I'll pick it up sooner if it drops in price.

EDIT:  As Regards Spoilification
Why must all things be so bright? Why can things not appear only in hues of brown! I am so serious about this! Dull colors are the future! The next generation! I will never accept a world with such bright colors! It is far too childish! I will rage against your cheery palette with my last breath!

Offline wandering

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RE: a love leter for Peter Jackson's KING KONG
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2006, 08:13:28 PM »
hahaha, PA is great (well, 25% of the time)

But I was Just kidding about the Kong/Jack thing. The fates of Lumpy/Jimmy/Englehorn/Hayes/etc, on the other hand, might be considered a genuine (if small) spoiler.
“...there are those who would...say, '...If I could just not have to work everyday...that would be the most wonderful life in the world.' They don't know life. Because what makes life mean something is purpose.  The battle. The struggle.  Even if you don't win it.” - Richard M. Nixon