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Why Peter Jackson went to Ubi

Loves BGE, no fan of EA.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

There's not long to go now till Peter Jackson's King Kong hits our cinemas - and our games consoles, courtesy of good old Ubisoft. But how come EA, which did the Lord of the Rings games, hasn't picked up the honours?

Because Jackson doesn't think much of them, according to an article in the New York Times: "Close associates" are quoted as saying the director "chafed" in his dealings with the publisher during the making of the LotR games.

"Electronic Arts was not interested in input from the filmmaker," Jackson's manager told the newspaper. He went on to say that despite this, the games were later marketed as if he were closely involved.

An EA spokesperson responded by telling the Times that "the access given by Mr Jackson for the game was 'above and beyond expectations'."

That's as may be, but for the King Kong tie-ins Jackson turned instead to Ubisoft and Michel Ancel, director and designer of Beyond Good and Evil - of which Jackson is a huge fan.

Ancel's 30-strong team swelled to 80 for the development of the King Kong titles, which have a budget of more than $20 million. Jackson will take a portion of the game's profits, but they're not saying how much.

The team flew to New Zealand in April of last year to meet Jackson, who told them his plans for the plot and described the way various scenes would appear on screen. They also got to see sketches of Kong's home, Skull Island, drawings of creatures that aren't going to feature in the film - such as giant bats - and of course the monkey himself.

"He showed gestures of Kong and explained how Kong moved," Ancel told the NY Times.

"It was like an interview with Kong himself."

Producer Xavier Poix added: "Peter told us he wanted King Kong to be intuitive to the player; to give him the pleasure to feel the power of Kong. He said, 'Hey, it's a gorilla. Just make him move like a gorilla.'"

Jackson was insistent that "Everything on the screen had to be in that world," according to Poix - so no health meters and the like; instead, the screen goes red each time you're attacked. Jackson also came up with the idea of supplying the player with ammo by having an airplane dropping it from overhead, along with various other concepts which he conveyed to the team via regular email contact throughout the game's development.

It all sounds rather exciting, if you ask us, so roll on release day - November 17 for the PC, PS2, Xbox and Gamecube versions, and December 2 for the Xbox 360. The DS, GBA and PSP titles arrive on December 9.

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