reviews\ Oct 14, 2001 at 8:00 pm

Planet of the Apes - PC - Review

“What is that?”

“Something’s coming. Run! Run!”

Astronauts, on a deep space mission, are stranded on an ‘alien’ world in a hostile environment. Too late to avoid capture, they realize the danger. Now, led by one human, mankind must raise itself from the foul mess it has created and reclaim the planet.

That is the premise. UbiSoft’s Planet of the Apes monkeys around with a third-person role-playing game, but in spite of decent fight graphics and a solid audio track, this PC release manages only minimal intrigue, and game play that stagnates in the dark corridors that play out as the game’s map board.

The action and hot key structure of this game is awkward. Rather than give game players some sort of comfort zone in terms of controllers, Planet of the Apes strays away from them and instead reallocates controls to other keys.

For example, if in a combat situation, tap A to lock on the target, then repeatedly hit the Alt key until either you or your simian opponent is defeated. Arrow keys help you navigate Ulysses (the astronaut which you will control) through the game, but in order to use the action key, you have to be in exactly the right location.

The intro begins with Ulysses waking up in a cell, deep in the caves. This is a medical center where humans are dissected and generally toyed with. As you may imagine, the guards are mandrills and gorillas. An ape slips Ulysses a key and note. The note says to go to the medical lab, and the key releases Ulysses from his cell. In order to snag either one, your character has to be in the right position. No straying to one side or the other. This is a procedure that takes some getting used to.

In spite of the control elements, Planet tries to offer an action-packed story. In some ways it succeeds. The game is filled with combat, and some puzzles. And while the fight elements are well rendered (simply lock on a target, move side to side, back and forth and tap the Alt key to attack), the puzzles are a little simplistic.

This is a polygonal-rendered game in the vein of Rune (Gathering of Developers), with corridors that fade into black to indicate a dead end, and animation that seems stiff at times. And after a while, the game boards all seem alike, whether traversing the underground tunnels or the subways. There is also some video breakup if you decide to forego the cutscene into and get straight into the game.

The sound track of this game is quite good. It reverberates with a pulsating music track and solid effects. The vocal characterizations seem a little stiff.

If you were expecting a game that mirrored the original Charlton Heston film, or even the recent remake of it, you will be disappointed. This Planet is – at its simplest – a foray through ‘dungeons.’

Rated for Teens due to violence, this Planet was probably released with the best of intentions, but doesn’t really toe the mark in terms of a solid RPG with great replayability.


Install: Easy
The game requires more than 600 megs of hard-drive space, but does install quickly.

Gameplay: 6.5
This program has save points – meaning that you can only save your progress after completing a level. If you get killed midway through the level, you will have to start all over.

Graphics: 7
In higher resolution, the game has smoothly textured graphics. The animation seems a little stiff and uniform (meaning one monkey will ape the movement of another almost to the point of being the same creature with just a little different look), and the corridors all start to look the same after a while.

Sound: 7.5
The game features a solid sound track. The vocal characterizations – what there are of them – are a little stiff, but otherwise this is a highlight of the program.

Difficulty: 6.5
Simple puzzles and predictable fights, the AI doesn’t seem particularly high or adaptive in this program.

Concept: 6
This program tries to give a new spin to the original movie and its remake, but fails to deliver the thrills of either one.

Multiplayer: N/A

Overall: 6.5
The fight scenes are well rendered, the environments (when you first begin) are solid, and the sound track is well done. For the experienced fan of RPGs, this won’t live up to expectations, but for novices in the genre, this might prove a non-threatening outing.

Above Average

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