There was a little game from Ubisoft’s Montpellier team back in 2003 called Beyond Good & Evil. It was excellent but thanks to no marketing and an avalanche of new games, only a few people bought it. Luckily one of those few was a guy called Peter Jackson, who just happened to be working on a little trilogy of films called Lord of the Rings at the time, and had also had his fingers burnt by EA on the adaptations of those movies. This perfect storm of events has led here, with Jackson personally selecting the BG&E team to develop the game version of his upcoming King Kong remake, and what a game it is. I played the Xbox version for a good while today, and I’ll probably be grabbing the Xbox 360 version when that comes out.
Taking inspiration from the likes of the Half-Life series and Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, the game is essentially a first-person shooter that never leaves the perspective of your character, in this case Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody’s character), but takes it further by having absolutely no HUD. That means no aiming reticule, no health bar, no ammo meter, no interaction icons, no nothing. You get some prompts to tell you the controls at the beginning, but that’s it. You need to judge aim yourself, you know you’re near death when the screen starts turning red, and you can make Driscoll say how many clips or shells of ammo he has whenever you need to know. Not that you’ll have a lot of ammo, as most of the time you’ll want to rely on spears and bones that you find laying around, saving your guns for the big enemies that you’ll find occasionally. A flaming spear is usually just as good as a few bullets anyway.
Graphically King Kong is stunning, even on the vanilla Xbox. It’s atmospheric and sharp, and everything is detailed yet still manages to run at a very solid framerate. All of the previews are saying that the 360 version looks a lot better, so logic dictates that it should be something gorgeous to look at. I was impressed with the Xbox version’s graphics and certainly had no complaints about it, so this one will be worth admiring.
Overall from what I played this could go up there with the likes of GoldenEye as one of the great movie-to-game adaptations, and should hopefully give Ubisoft Montpellier some much deserved exposure and money. They should only sell King Kong in a bundle with BG&E or something.