With the current-gen consoles (PS2, Xbox, GameCube), many game publishers make a base version of their game and “port” it so it works on the other consoles. When the Xbox 360 launched, only two companies tried their hand at releasing next-gen versions of their games at the same time as their current-gen counterparts. The first of those companies, Activision, released Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland (review) and Gun (review), both of which were only marginally better than their current-gen counterparts. The second company, Ubisoft, tried to capitalize on the mania surrounding Peter Jackson’s King Kong motion picture, releasing probably the longest-named videogame ever created: Peter Jackson’s King Kong The Official Game of the Movie.
As you read in our review of the current-gen version (read it here), the long-named game didn’t have the same magic as its source material. King Kong the movie made you long for a peaceful resolution. King Kong the game made you long for a new environment and less-linear gameplay. Yet would the next-generation Xbox 360 allow for more diverse content? Would it provide a more open-ended adventure? Would it make the AI dinosaurs even more brutal and random?
In a word, “no.” For all intents and purposes, you could read our review of the current-gen game and be reading our thoughts about the Xbox 360 version. In fact, we suggest you do read that review, because the gameplay is identical, and we’re going to cut this review short because it would essentially be a copy-and-paste job. The graphics have been noticeably improved, particularly as the weather kicks up on Skull Island, but the step up isn’t quite as dramatic as we’d normally expect from Ubisoft. Likewise, the sound effects and ambient noises make the experience seem even more immersive on the Xbox 360, but when you’re walking through what feels like the same level over and over again, you forget that the sounds are marginally different from one location to the next.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the Xbox 360 version, though, is the fact that the environments still take a while to load before each level. Considering the power of the hardware and the linearity of the game, not to mention the environments’ repetitive textures, we expected Ubisoft to be able to stream content during the later stages of each level, thereby eliminating loading screens. No such luck.
As it turns out, Peter Jackson’s King Kong on the Xbox 360 is next-generation in graphics and price alone. For a game developed by the team that created Beyond Good & Evil (review), our expectations were much, much higher. And for Ubisoft’s first effort on a next-generation system, we expected much, much more.
- Gameplay: 7.5
- The action is still repetitive, and although it’s still fun to play as Kong, it’s also still nothing too spectacular.
- Graphics: 8
- Ohh, look! The darkness and blandness we noted in the current-gen game is now high-resolution darkness and blandness.
- Sound: 8.2
- The voice acting is still simple, but the environmental sounds actually speed-up the ol’ heartbeat.
- Replay: 6
- As in the current-gen version, playing as Kong might compel you for an extra level or two, but that’s about it.
- Overall: 7.8
- Let’s say this again: Tedious gameplay kills the coolness of the “wow” moments and brings it all down to an average level.