Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Peter Jackson's King Kong. An out-and-out rollercoaster ride in film and - more specifically in this case - game form. A piece of masterfully executed entertainment, designed to spin you round, flip you over and leave your broken, bruised and physically exhausted body drenched in a thick, steamy sheen of fun sweat. A non-stop action blast that forces you to run for your life from Prehistoric monsters, fight cannibals armed with nothing more advanced than sharpened animal bones and beat your hairy chest as the largest simian ever to walk the Earth. And yes, if you haven't guessed already, we rather enjoyed it.
Needless to say, in the interest of safety we ask that you sit down, fasten your seat belts and ensure you keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times. Things are about to get very hairy indeed...
Okay, seriously, who better to take us on such a ride than Peter "Lord of the Rings" Jackson, a man best known for creating some of the most jaw-dropping cinematic experiences on record? Never has the rollercoaster analogy been more appropriate. King Kong is a game that buffets you from one adrenaline rush to the next, a virtual free-fall of fun that'll have the tears streaming from your eyes as you hurtle forwards, powerless to do anything but sit there and shriek. Like the old carnival shout goes, "Open your knees and feel the breeze: scream if you wanna go faster!"
The plot, for those of you completely unfamiliar with the whole King Kong shebang, is pure monster movie fluff. It's the 1930s, and filmmaker Carl Denham needs a big-screen hit badly. In desperation he and his scriptwriter Jack Driscoll, along with leading lady Ann Darrow, charter a ship to mysterious Skull Island in the hope that the previously unexplored island will prove a fitting location for his next big picture. Unfortunately, Skull Island turns out to be a rain-lashed jungle populated by giant insects, dinosaurs, a freakish tribe of natives and, of course, one oversized gorilla with a serious attitude problem. Cue the immaculately choreographed kidnap of scream-happy Ann by the locals as a sacrifice to giant ape Kong, leaving you, as hero Jack, to rush across the jungle and rescue her from her big hairy captor.
So it's an action game, then, and a first-person one at that. But it isn't just a first-person shooter. As much as it might appear that way, most of your time spent as Jack is spent running from the lethal monsters that populate Skull Island. That, and simply being astounded by the brilliant atmosphere and setpieces of the game. Like the first time you see Kong for instance, his huge form appearing from the mist to scoop the bound and chained Ann away from you. Or watching Carl get swept up by giant flying reptiles (followed by a desperate scramble to rescue him). Not forgetting the awesome sequence that has Jack desperately fighting off a pack of predators while dodging the giant moving legs of a passing herd of brontosauruses.
Find one of the incredibly scarce ammo dumps dotted about the island though, and you get to let rip with an assortment of period rifles and machine guns. And when the ammo runs out - and it will, frequently - there are plenty of native spears lying around. And fire - and therein lies one of King Kong's nicest touches. It's not just about shooting monsters in the head: you have to be more thoughtful than that, luring them away with bait, or setting fire to bush-clogged escape routes. What's more, the further it goes, the more convoluted it gets, with some levels forcing you through several steps just to shift a flame from one end of a valley to another.