At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date Screenshots
Dave Wickham Xbox Ubisoft Ubisoft Montpellier Unknown November 2005 Here

GME: Peter Jackson's King Kong preview

This preview is based solely on the code available at Games Market Europe.

Peter Jackson's King Kong, to give it its full name, is the game based on the film of the same name, and looks like it could be shaping up to be one of those rarities in the gaming world: a movie-based game that doesn't suck.

King Kong contains two vastly different game types; one in which you are Jack, walking around in a 1st person viewpoint, and one where you are the great Kong himself, roaming through the jungle in third-person. However, the only Kong level we tried was a 2.5D fist-fighting action-based mode between Kong and a T-Rex. Quite how the main two will go together, we don't know; between dying and crashing the Xbox, it was impossible to tell if the different gameplay styles have been seamlessly integrated yet without the continuous story available.

So, to start things off let's concentrate on Jack's gameplay. Initially it looks and feels like a standard first person shooter... at least until you meet your first enemy. At this point I died 10 times, thought "Cor, he's tough", set invincible mode on (which won't be in the final game), then realised that he can't be killed: King Kong doesn't reward you for attempting to kill everything that moves. In amongst major variations from the traditional FPS such as this, more minor quirks that aren't immediately obvious are present - to give one example, the amount of ammunition you have isn't given in exact figures on a HUD; instead Jack will say approximately how much ammo is left when you reload. In fact, even if there were exact numbers, there would be nowhere to put them - King Kong is totally devoid of any HUDs, relying solely on visual and aural cues to inform you of your status, so as to increase the cinematic experience.

The control system in Jack's missions is slightly confusing the first time you start. Instead of the typical manner of treating melee weapons differently to firearms, all weapons operate with a unified control system. Pressing the right trigger by itself engages the melee function of the current weapon (stabbing for a spear, or pistol whip for a gun) in the general direction that you're currently facing - it's not like you need to aim for a close-up. In order to use a ranged attack, the left trigger is held to activate aiming mode, then the right trigger is used to attack (e.g. throwing a spear or firing a firearm). While confusing at first, I quickly found myself getting used to these attack controls, and the unified nature of them means that you don't have to frantically change away from your gun if you run out of bullets.

Kong vs. T-Rex, the 2.5D fighting mode mentioned earlier, involves you playing as Kong attempting to destroy T-Rex in classic arcade-style fighting (albeit without the special moves). Needless to say, without instructions, I was mostly just mashing at buttons (and losing pretty quickly), so I can't really tell you too much more about this game style. Also, as stated, this isn't representative of the main Kong gameplay that will feature heavily, so we can't bring you details on how the main Kong controls feel.

One aspect of King Kong which is hard to miss is its grand scale. The film is filled with creatures of titanic proportions - obviously including Kong himself - and the game is no exception. In Jack's gameplay mode you can be walking through a grassy area, pass through a small passage in a wall of rock, look to your left, and see a trail of giant animals walking past you. It may not sound like much when written in plain text, but the experience is very different in the actual game; it makes you feel much smaller than you actually are. We've not had first-hand experience of this, but when playing as Kong, all of the scenery is scaled down in order to accommodate him, so the giant scale is still represented, just in a different manner.

As long as all goes well with the remaining development, Peter Jackson's King Kong looks like it will easily be fit for the licence.

A video of Dave playing King Kong at Games Market Europe is available (requires the XviD codec). You will need to save this to disk before playing.

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