King Kong has made its presence felt in all forms of entertainment and with Gameloft’s rendition of the 800lb (plus) gorilla, you’ve also got the game for cell phones. I don’t think I am spoiling the game or movie for anyone if I told you that the action is split between Skull Island’s jungles and New York’s depression era skyscrapers. Likewise, you’ll find yourself in the shoes of Jack Driscoll and pounding your chest as Kong.
Gameloft has made a fine side-scrolling adventure out of these two characters and the varied environments found in the film. Driscoll’s part involves more think work than Kong’s. Although the movie has Driscoll simply running through the jungle from one hazard to the next or swinging on a vine from one place to another, you’ll have to learn how to get around Skull Island by throwing obligatory platform game switches. Driscoll also has a dart shooting blowgun he can use to ambush natives.
Kong, on the other hand, has no weapons to use. Nor does he really need any as he man-handles dinosaurs and police cars using his bare hands. Kong’s levels are definitely more geared toward action. There is a rage meter that you can charge up to execute some combos. The game does not feature overly complex controls as there are hints on throughout the game to remind you.
Visually, Kong is better animated and displayed than Driscoll. This is probably due to the size of the characters. Humans are small and thin but they feature a full range of motion. Kong has plenty of animations, especially in those combo attacks and comes with a ferocious roar. Maybe it’s unfair that Kong is bigger but he looks better and will remind gamers of the console and PC versions of the game from Ubisoft. Gameloft’s artists also use vivid colors to draw some really distinct environments in this mobile King Kong title.
There are no other game modes to speak of for King Kong. The levels are played out linearly. It might be more interesting if the levels were split into two such that you can use Driscoll to pass the level or Kong but the game is not that sophisticated. And I guess there are some things, like the final Empire State building setting that are preordained. Don’t worry, the game is faithful to the movie’s ending but you won’t spend your time fighting a losing battle (aka committing suicide).
All in all, King Kong is a solid movie translation. I would have liked to hear more sound effects and see a branching storyline with interchangeable Kong and Driscoll protagonists (or maybe even unlockable characters) but I understand that the game was developed to be released alongside the movie. King Kong managed to be a launch title for the Xbox 360. Is it going to dominate handsets this Christmas? There are some pretty strong games, including some from Gameloft that will try to wrestle the crown from this king. But if side scrolling adventures are your thing, you’ll find King Kong to be enjoyable like the movie, minus the romance parts at the beginning.