Peter Jackson's King Kong

Going ape (ho ho) with Ubisoft's movie tie-in. Let chest beating commence!

We have played as the monkey. We have engaged in a fist fight with a Tyrannosaurus Rex and beaten our chest with joy at snapping the beaten T-Rex's jaw off. Yes, 'being' Kong in Xbox King Kong is pretty much everything you could ever want it to be, thanks to the agile beast and his love of fighting anything with a pulse. You play as Kong, you fight huge dinosaurs as Kong, you learn to love Kong. But it takes a while to get there - first you have to play as the human for a while.

The King Kong game starts with you standing captive on Skull Island, tied up by the native inhabitants and watching as they sacrifice your female expedition colleague Ann. Then Kong appears through the mist to steal poor little Ann and off he goes into the dingy distance with her in his hand. This classic King Kong moment signals your turn to start playing as human weakling Jack Driscoll. Accompanied by cameraman Carl Denham - an incredibly realistic recreation of pie-challenged movie star Jack Black - you head off into the jungle to escape the angry natives and save Ann from the clutches of the horny monkey.


Only there's one fairly large problem. Skull Island is full of things that want to eat you and you're just a rubbish little man with no rocket launchers. With only pointy sticks as weapons at first, Jack and his team of explorers can't kill T-Rexes or any of the larger dinos - not even when a few guns are air-dropped in to help you out. Smaller beasts can be offed with a few spear chucks, but spears are limited and dinosaurs aren't - you need to use your environment to survive, setting fires to block approaching flesh-eaters, or luring larger beasts away, using smaller animals as bait.

You're accompanied by Carl as you play, with the cameraman helping on certain tasks and getting himself in trouble. You might have to rescue him when he gets carried off by a pterodactyl, for example, or be stuck throwing spears at a T-Rex to distract it while Carl really takes his bloody time opening a door. It's not a point-and-click team game like those boring war shooters - instead King Kong uses its characters to increase the tension and open up some clever search-and-rescue missions.

Then the magic happens. After a few levels of playing as the weak human, after being the hunted and having to forage dead animal corpses for bones to use as weapons, you're able to play as Kong. Now those annoying raptors - which can kill Jack with two attacks - can be picked up like toys, have a few lumps chomped out of them like apples, then have their corpses thrown casually aside. You are king of the jungle now, and boy does it feel good to stop having to use sticks as weapons. Kong's only weapons are fists the size of caravans.


The monkey sections switch perspective to let you see Kong, taking on a kind of platform game feel and mixing in a ton of fighting action for the dinosaur scraps. Kong can flip from side to side as he scales the walls of huge canyons, and spin through the air as he leaps from tree trunk to tree trunk. For a big thing, he's in incredibly good shape. He's also manoeuvrable, with a sidestep to get him out of trouble, leaps to tee up twin-fisted aerial attacks, and a selection of grabs to manoeuvre enemy beasts into better attack positions. He also has finishing moves, some exceptionally violent attacks for downing a T-Rex for good.

And Kong's biggest strength? Why, that'll be his heart, thanks to the whole Kong/Ann/Jack love triangle thing that's going on. To begin with, poor Ann is terrified of Kong, taking any opportunity she can to run away when he puts her down to fight something. Eventually she realises he's a deformed beast with a heart of gold, though, and actually starts to seek him out when she gets into trouble.

  1 2