Top positive review
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The Nature of Monkey is irrepressible!!
on 9 October 2010
This started out as a concept for an animated movie created using the unreal graphics engine, but ended up being an interactive gaming experience. The reason this info is important to the prospective buyer, is that the story, and the FMV cut scenes that tell it, are clearly the focus of the project. Andy Serkis provides the likeness, voice, and motion capture for the lead character, and once again proves himself to be the premier actor for being able to convey emotion through the CGI medium.
The story is a very clever and well adapted version of 'Journey to the West' (anyone over 30 years old may know this story from 'Monkey', or 'Monkey Magic' the popular dubbed chinese show of the late 70's), and the quality of the script and story mean that the use of Alex Garland's name is not just for hype, he has clearly spent some time and effort bringing a quality seldom seen in these elements of a video game.
The gameplay is, at first glance, and from the demo level, very much a god of war derivative, but as the game expands, it quickly becomes apparent that this comparison is not accurate. The game it most resembles in game play is the reboot of 'Prince of Persia' that was released a couple of years ago. You control an athletic physical character, who has to help a largely AI female character through physical obstacles, whilst she in turn, uses her special abilities to help your character solve various puzzles/traps and fight certain big bosses. There are even similar energy orbs to collect in order to unlock and purchase upgraded weapons/abilities. The gameplay and combat is, by its nature, very forgiving - you cannot fall off structures, you dont really have to time or aim jumps/leaps very specificaly, and combat is basic 2 button combo's that create a flash range of animations on screen. This will mean that for a lot of 'hardcore' gamers, this will feel too easy and linear, which is probably a fair argument, but again, this game is more concerned in telling its story and showing you the future-earth that the team have created, and as such, the gaming remains fun, and pitched just right to maintain the games cinematic flow.
Whilst I am of a forgiving nature towards this game's quirks, I do wish that there had been more work done to polish the camera control, as the angles it tracks can be terrible, and controlling it with the analogue stick can be jerky and unresponsive, and I would have liked the platforming elements to have been more skill dependant, so its far from perfect or refined in some respects.
But it is something to be judged as a whole, and that whole is something more than a game. It is a beautiful, engaging and utterly charming interactive adventure through a unique and exciting world. The boldness of vision, Imagery and quality of storytelling is to be applauded and enjoyed, and the gameplay is solid, if not earth-shattering. I love it, and think it would take a real killjoy not to find it a great way to spend a weekend's gaming.