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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 08:11 GMT 09:11 UK
Gamers ape man and beast in Kong
Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website, in Los Angeles

People queuing to see the game at the E3 games expo
Gamers queued to learn more about the beast of a game
Fans of King Kong will be able to play both as the giant gorilla and the hero, Jack Driscoll, in the game of the forthcoming Peter Jackson film.

Details of the title were revealed at last week's E3 games expo in LA.

A preview of the game showed how it could be played from both a first-person and third-person perspective.

The game is due to be released across all platforms in November, a month ahead of the film.

Jackson's vision

The production on the King Kong game started at around the same time as work began on the remake of the 1933 classic.

According to game makers Ubisoft, Peter Jackson has been heavily involved in the look and feel of the title.

Director Peter Jackson with the Ubisoft team
Peter Jackson wanted us to go beyond the movie, because in the game you can do things yourself
Michel Ancel, Ubisoft
"Peter Jackson is a gamer and he already had an idea about the game," said Michel Ancel, who is leading the production team at Ubisoft.

"He wanted us to play both as King Kong and on the human side as Jack Driscoll, the adventurer," Mr Ancel told the BBC news website.

"When you play, you have these two points of view. Both characters are trained to survive. The environment is very hostile so they have common goals, which is surviving."

Common aspects

The Oscar-winning director has helped to shape the game, working with the Ubisoft developers in New Zealand and in Los Angeles.

Dinosaur screenshot from King Kong
Humans in the game are under threat from all sides
The film and game share much in common. The game uses all the artistic materials created for the movie, including some creatures created by Weta Studios that did not make it into the film.

The movie's scriptwriter has also worked on the dialogue in the game.

Both set off from the same starting point, and the big set-pieces in the movie are replicated in the game.

"We used the main biggest scenes as milestones and we are in the same overall shape," explained Mr Ancel. "But we have our own scenes in the game."

"Peter Jackson wanted us to go beyond the movie, because in the game you can do things yourself."

A matter of scale

A preview of the game was shown behind closed doors at the E3 show.

It showed the game through the eyes of Jack Driscoll, fighting off dinosaurs with spears, a pistol and a machine-gun.

In contrast to most first-person shooters, there were no health indicators on screen. Instead, damage to Driscoll was shown by red-tinted, distorted visuals.

The gameplay later switched to a cinematic third-person perspective, with the player taking on the role of Kong and doing battle with the dinosaurs.

King Kong original beast from the 1933 classic
The 1933 classic King Kong classic is being remade by Peter Jackson
"The biggest challenge is that you have got two games in one, combining the first-person and third-person point of view," said Mr Ancel. "We had to make those two things stick together."

"One big challenge was the difference of scale. It was very hard to put across the perception that Kong is very big and Jack is very small, but the world is still the same."

One way the Ubisoft team have tried to do this is by the movements of the main characters. While Driscoll is fast on his feet, Kong is far slower and lumbering.

The game is due to go on sale for all current game consoles, as well as for the PC in November.

A version is also being created for the GameBoy Advance and the Nintendo DS.


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