Peter Jackson's King Kong
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|Peter Jackson's King Kong|
|Release||Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo DS & Xbox 360
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, first-person shooter|
Peter Jackson's King Kong is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft, based on the 2005 film King Kong. The game was created in collaboration between the film's director, Peter Jackson, and game designer, Michel Ancel.
The game allows players to play as both Jack Driscoll and King Kong. The King Kong segment are played from a third-person perspective, while human levels are played from a first-person perspective. The game de-emphasizes the role of a heads-up display, with the developers explaining that this conceivably would help players to further immersed into the game.
It was released on PC and sixth generation platforms and a Nintendo DS version on November 21, 2005, while it was released on November 22, 2005 on the Xbox 360 as a launch title, as well as a Game Boy Advance version titled Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World, also a PlayStation Portable version was released December 20, 2005. All film cast members reprise their roles. Upon release, the game received critical acclaim, with critics praising the game's immersive environments. However, the DS version was panned due to the bugs featured in these versions. And the PSP version received mix reception due to the shorter length and parts cut out from the console and PC versions.
Human levels are controlled from a first person perspective. The game de-emphasizes the role of a heads-up display: it lacks a life bar, aiming reticule, and ammunition readout (the ammo readout and aiming reticule can be turned on and off at the player's will, but will be disabled by default.), further adding to the challenge and encouraging the player to find alternate weapons and techniques.
Interspersed with human adventure are levels in which the player controls Kong himself, traversing Skull Island's unique geography, battling various giant monsters while defending Ann. The Kong levels take place in a third person view, as the player directs Kong to punch, grab and use objects/corpses as weapons. He can also bite, climb, charge, hurl enemies and even pound his chest to go into fury mode. When Kong is sent into fury mode, the sky becomes tinted with a golden hue and Kong becomes more powerful and less vulnerable to attack. Many of the Kong sequences fulfill the role of boss fights, as the giant ape is able to effectively battle the gigantic creatures that Jack's weapons cannot harm.
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In 1933, film director Carl Denham (Jack Black), has gotten hold of a mysterious map, which reveals the secret location of a large island known as Skull Island, a place located in the far reaches of the Indian Ocean (correctly the Pacific Ocean in the game). Carl hires playwright Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) to write his script and plucks a starving, out-of-work actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) to play the part of leading lady and a tramp steamer called the Venture to take them to the island. The ship, controlled by Captain Englehorn (Thomas Kretschmann) arrives at the island on October 12, 1933. But due to the stormy seas and huge rocks, it can't get close enough to land so the crew orders the captain to send three lifeboats containing the cast, crew and a few sailors to the island and he does. However, the lifeboat containing Jack, Carl, Ann, Hayes (Evan Parke), and Briggs gets hit by a chunk of rock which falls from a large stone structure, tossing the party out into the sea.
Jack is horrified to find out that one of the sailors, Briggs is dead and the lifeboat completely wrecked. Hayes shoots out a distress signal, informing everyone that if Englehorn sees it, he'll come looking for them via the ship's plane. The group head upwards to a cave entrance leading into a dark, flooded cave. After fighting off several giant crabs with their 9mm Luger P08 pistols, they head towards the exit and move out onto a rocky outcrop, to the left there is a rocky slope leading down to a stony beach. Carl suggest shooting some test shots for his movie, he asks Ann to scream and her classic damsel-in-distress style wailing is answered by a loud roar. The director and his men are suddenly attacked by huge crabs that crawl out from the shore, rifles raised, the men shoot the miniature tanks down, but a huge bellow erupts from the water. A 30-foot crab emerges from the murk and knocks over a wooden platform supported by wooden beams which is standing next to the slope. After much man-made commotion the creature is defeated, and they move on through a gigantic wooden door. Jack has the option of swapping his Luger for a Winchester Model 1897 pump-action shotgun.
The party progress forward, meeting up with the second lifeboat containing Preston (Colin Hanks), Jimmy (Jamie Bell) and Lumpy (Andy Serkis), although it cannot land because of the strong current of the sea. The team continue traversing the island, battling with many vicious creatures, and are eventually forced to split up. Jack crosses a wooden bridge, but after he crosses it, it breaks. Ann insists on going with him and climbs up to the cliff above Jack. After a huge battle with Megapedes and Scorpiopedes through a seemingly abandoned village, Jack and Ann are captured by the island Natives. Jack gets to use a Mauser Gewehr 98 sniper rifle, but loses it.
When Jack wakes up tied to a stake, he can only watch as Ann is taken by Kong, a 25-foot (7.6 m) gorilla during a native sacrifice. Carl eventually rescues Jack and the two give chase. During the dangerous journey through the jungle, they have an encounter with Venatosaurus who are feasting on a dead Ferrucutus. Jack and Carl reunite with Hayes after defeating a pack of Skull Island raptors. Soon after, they meet up with Preston, Lumpy, Jimmy and Baxter, who are crossing a bridge, but they are attacked by a Vastatosaurus Rex. Lumpy is torn apart, Jimmy and Baxter fall down into the crevasse, but Preston got to the other side. Jack is separated from Carl and Hayes, who tell him to continue look for Ann. Jack eventually finds Ann, but she is kidnapped by a Terapusmordax. Kong comes to the rescue and saves Ann. Jack continues on into the canyon, where he sees a migrating herd of Brontosaurus, and also battles Megapedes and Scorpio-Pedes. A V-Rex attacks the sauropods and Jack meets up with Carl and Hayes, and continue on their path. In the jungle, they come across Jimmy, who is being attacked by Skull Island raptors. They eventually meet up on a raft, where Jimmy tells the group that everyone is dead. After escaping the Skull Islanders the team are pursued by two V-Rexes. Kong comes to the rescue and kills them. As the teams continue their journey, they enter a swamp, and fight against strange-looking Swampcrawlers. After leaving the swamp, Kong interrupts their log crossing and tips them into a huge ravine. Carl's camera is broken and he gives up, heading downstream towards the Venture. Jack, Jimmy and Hayes continue their pursuit of Ann. Jack gets to use the last weapon, a .45 caliber Thompson submachine gun with a 50-round drum clip.
Jack eventually saves Ann from a V-Rex, and the party continue the adventure to find a long stretch of water of which the seaplane can land on. After fighting off some Venatosaurus and a juvenile V-Rex in a cave, and leaving a swamp, they finally come across a long stretch of water. Captain Englehorn, in his seaplane, lands on the water. However, he takes flight as a V-Rex follows them into a large area cluttered with ancient stone ruins. The monster breaks through the barricade and begins smashing down their shelter. Ann signals for Kong to come. Eventually, Kong comes to save them while Jack shoots some Terapusmordax to distract the carnivore. As Hayes tries to stop the fight, opening fire on Kong, the V-Rex charges at Kong and inadvertently steps on Hayes, injuring him. Jack and Jimmy stand over Hayes, who tells Jimmy before he dies to get back to the ship. Jack and Jimmy fight many raptors and head back to the stretch of water and find the seaplane. Jimmy climbs in (there is only one passenger seat) and Jack climbs up into the mountains to save Ann.
Jack discovers Kong's lair and kills two juvenile V-Rex and the Skin-Birds roosting above the entrance. He rescues Ann while Kong fights several cave serpents. After leaving the jungle, Jack and Ann arrive at The Wall, Ann is captured by the natives once again until Kong comes to get her. He saves her then heads for the shore. Kong gets gassed by sailors once he reaches the shore. He eventually passes out and is taken to New York City, where he is put on display on Broadway. Kong isn't held captive for long and wanders New York in search of Ann. He eventually finds her and, after destroying many army trucks and making a tip of Manhattan, he takes her up the Empire State Building. He tries to destroy a swarm of biplanes but is eventually shot down. Carl stands beside Kong's body and says "It wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty that killed the Beast."
The alternate ending occurs if the player defeats enough biplanes as Kong, and then destroys the army's searchlights, Kong will climb down the Empire State Building and a cut scene will play of Kong roaring on the top of his homeland, having been safely returned. To unlock the alternate ending, players must complete the entire game and then go back and play through various maps and earn a total of 250,000 points. It can also be accessed by using the cheat codes.
The Xbox 360 release featured improved graphics and audio over the sixth generation console releases. The PC version, known as the "Gamer's Edition", (originally only available with select graphics cards and later offered on game download services) also included these improved features.
The "Special Edition" version of the game was available for a limited time. Along with the two standard game discs, included are: A bonus disc, containing concept art and a screensaver; and a making-of disc, containing a featurette with Peter Jackson. There was an error in the printing of the discs and the disc labelled "Making of" was actually the "Bonus" disc and vice versa. The signature edition also comes with a Topps trading card of King Kong, a code for a downloadable ringtone, and a cover signed by Peter Jackson.
Symptomatic of early seventh generation console games, the Xbox 360 version was only correctly set up for HDTV, leaving the image on standard-definition TVs very dark and unsatisfactory for gameplay. As a result, Ubisoft recommended fans buy the Xbox version until a fix for the problem was produced. The patch was eventually released. The Xbox version is not backwards compatible with the Xbox 360.
The PC version is also known to utilize the StarForce copy protection system, which may cause unforeseen difficulties for players, especially those using Microsoft Windows 7. No patch has been released by the publisher to remedy this problem. The digitally distributed version is DRM Free.
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The PC and console versions received critical acclaim. However, the Nintendo DS version was widely panned by reviewers because of bugs and glitches, poor level design and enemy AI. The DS version was listed in the 'Flat-Out Worst Game' list of GameSpot's Best & Worst of 2005. The PSP version received mixed reception, mainly for a shorter length, as well as cut down features from the main console versions.
Non-video game publications gave the game generally positive reviews as well. The New York Times gave it a favorable review and stated, "The sense of immersion is increased by the game's first-person perspective and an absence of on-screen clutter. There is no health gauge blocking your view; if a dinosaur bites you, your vision blurs, indicating that one more bite will kill you." The A.V. Club gave it a B+ and called it "an instant classic." The Sydney Morning Herald gave it three-and-a-half stars out of five and said of the game, "With a rather abrupt final sequence it does seem to rush to its climax, but despite its brevity, this is an unforgettable trip through the realm of Kong." Detroit Free Press gave the Xbox 360 version three stars out of four and called it "A decent effort. And if you're a gamer who likes movies, this one's got all the cinematic feel and production value of a big-budget film." Maxim, however, gave the PSP version a score of four out of ten and stated that "while the PSP version adds a two-player Co-op mode, it also has wonkier controls than its console cousin, which weren't great to begin with."
King Kong received Spike TV Awards for Best Action Game, Best Video Game Based on a Movie, and Best Leading Male Performance (Jack Black as Carl Denham). The game was humorously awarded the 'Most Long-Winded Game Title' in the "Dubious Honors" category of GameSpot's 'Best of 2005'. It was included on Game Informer's "Top 50 Games of 2005" list and it was placed #10 on the "Top 10 Heroes of 2005" list.
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