Bad game? No. Good game? Not so much.
Well, Donald’s back, out of the shadows as it were, and he looks nothing like the blathering duck that was recently featured in the unwarrantedly popular Kingdom Hearts. When I first caught word that I’d be reviewing this game, I instinctually said to myself “great, another Donald Duck game”. I am still having nightmares about the dreaded Donald Duck: Goin’ Quackers videogame that I reviewed a few months back. The wound is still fresh. Nevertheless, in the spirit of neutrality, I decided to buckle down and figure out whether Disney’s PK: Out of the Shadows was any good. And surprisingly, it is. It’s not that bad at all actually, tastes like chicken. It isn’t that great, mind you, but it is a definite step up from the last Disney game to feature Donald Duck as the central character.
PK starts out with a cinematic that portrays Donald working as a security guard, watching the various cameras strewn throughout the building in the monitor room. At the same time, the earth is being taken over by a war-like alien-race known as the Evronians. This is where a floating head, that is the manifestation of pure super-computer A.I., visits Donald and grants him the power of a super-hero. Confused yet? This floating head is known simply as “One”, and throughout the game he will grant Donald with a bevy of special maneuvers to help him rid the world of the evil Evronians. With Donald transformed into PK (Platyrhynchos Kineticus, loosely translated into “duck of energy”), the Evronians best watch their collective asses, this duck is out for blood.
The stages in Out of the Shadows are laid out in a straightforward platforming fashion not unlike games such as Crash Bandicoot or even Donald Duck: Goin’ Quackers, but they tend to be more closed-in and intelligently designed. The camera will switch perspectives based on the location of your character, and most of the time it does a pretty good job of focusing in on the action. But the inability to manually rotate the perspective can be frustrating in situations where you must move toward the camera, or when you have to wait for the perspective to align with the direction you need to move when timing is critical.
The developers saw fit to include a combat-system wherein you can target enemies by holding the R2 button and fire by hitting the square button. Kind of like a Zelda-lite style of combat. While locked on to a baddie, your maneuverability is limited to jumping and strafing, and this simple formula is more than adequate for dealing with PK’s enemies since the A.I. consists mainly of haphazardly targeted shots that can be easily dodged. There is a bit of strategy involved in some battles however. For instance, some bad-guys won’t go down until you’ve first shot them with a supercharged blast in order to destroy their energy-shield, and then take them out with normal blasts while they are vulnerable.
Visually, PK: Out of the Shadows does a commendable job of utilizing the cel-shaded approach. In fact, graphically, the closest comparison would be Sly Cooper, without the attention to detail or gorgeous atmospheres that is. The in-game animation is relatively fluid with smooth transition between actions, even when Donald is just standing idly around he’ll realistic keep his body moving in a non-repetitive fashion. Draw-in issue are occasionally present in circumstances where enemies are moderately far away, though this doesn’t turn out to be that much of a problem. Those expecting a memorable auditory experience should look elsewhere, every facet of PK’s aurality is, at best, mediocre. The fast-paced techno-ey soundtrack doesn’t seem fitting at all, and the generic sound effects of guns blasting or the destruction of blow-up-able objects are lacking in the quality department. The audio/visual presentation is not necessarily bad at all, it just isn’t very noteworthy – at all.
With other, more entertaining platforming titles currently on the market (read: Sly Cooper, Ratchet & Clank, Heck, even Maximo), there really isn’t a big incentive to lay down half a C-note for PK: Out of the Shadows. However, for the younger audience, particularly those who are fans of Donald Duck and don’t appreciate a challenge, this may be just the thing the doctor ordered. So in conclusion: rent, don’t buy, unless you are a pre-pubescent gamer who enjoys the Donald Duck personality so much that you dressed up as him for Halloween.