The Apes are back again, but this time in an adventure on the PC that follows the storyline from the Charlton Heston movie of 1968, not the Tim Burton remake of 2001. Your character looks like Heston, and the story sequences feature an unusual amount of dialogue for a video game, a nice touch, but the controls and interface are irritating. The manner in which the screen moves can actually make you sick, and the enjoyment isn't enough to overcome that aspect.
You sport the traditional loincloth, fight hairy apes with clubs, and try to escape their version of civilization. Reaching higher levels earns you guns, but early stages use primitive weapons (fists and clubs). Fighting scenes are somewhat clumsy, as both you and the ape run into each other while punching, with no real maneuvering or strategy, partly because the controls are too sloppy. Nor does acquiring a knife or other advanced weapons change the way you fight.
Story sequences between levels are nicely done, with quite a bit of dialogue between the apes, such as Doctor Zeus arguing with the pro-human doctor about their fate. Some gamers may be irritated by the overly long nature of the cut-scenes and want to get back to the action, but the action is a bit sparse and doesn't require you to fight every step of the way.
Instead of the typical ASDW movement controls, Planet of the Apes utilizes arrow keys, which don't give you precise control, especially since the camera tends to swing around with a nauseating effect as you turn. You jump with the Spacebar and use the Control and Alt keys for crouching and picking up items. Manipulating items and weapons is initially confusing -- once you pick something up, you continue to hold it until you push the Z button to put it in your bag. Selecting a weapon requires pushing the X button, selecting the item, then exiting to the screen. The Z button simply accesses the last item you used in your inventory, and puts it away. To operate switches on walls or door locks requires you to put your weapon away, and making sure your weapon is drawn far in advance before meeting an attacking ape is mandatory, since equipping weapons isn't quick. Thank goodness gamers have opposable thumbs.
The basic plot is to escape from the apes. Usually, a short cinematic scene plays when you enter a room that has an item of some importance, and though there's no audio, you get an idea of where to use the item and its purpose. As a human on the ape world, you have to realize you can't attack every ape you run into. Defeating one isn't too tough, but they slowly eat away at your life and you nearly always take at least one hit. Advancing through levels requires you to work in a more covert manner, finding key cards and other items to access specific doors leading to escape. Taking out weak-fighting doctors is necessary -- otherwise they'll consistently trip a big red button alarm positioned on a nearby wall to summon ape guards as soon as they spot you.
The ape enemies vary in looks and skill, and the game eventually becomes more interesting the further you go, but the designers failed to utilize the source material offered by the movie. The action game would be better served with a format similar to Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 or Tomb Raider, which offer extended play. Simply having the ability to look up, down, and move around in a circle would have made the game less nauseating. Finally, you can't save your progress until you move on to the next level, which forces longer playing sessions than might be desirable. Getting stuck in the environment without being able to take a break by saving is hairy, to say the least.
Graphics: The graphics resemble Tomb Raider without the ability to move the camera to desired angles. Instead, the arrow keys simply move you around 360 degrees on a horizontal plane, and the incessant movement caused by swinging around can make you feel ill.
Sound: Other than the story scenes, there's not much in the way of music or sounds. Apes make noise when aware of your presence and alarms blare when doctors spot you. Most of the game is quiet, though, in deference to the concept that you're sneaking around.
Enjoyment: You never feel threatened and you're usually alone as you search for ways in and out of different areas. The state of the graphics and movement, coupled with the inability to save, makes playing a tiring chore rather than an enjoyable experience.
Replay Value: Upon completion, there's no compelling reason to replay. The story sequences are nice, but not worth jumping through all the hoops of the levels to get to a second time. No multiplayer features are offered.
People who downloaded Planet of the Apes have also downloaded:
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow, Pitfall: The Lost Expedition, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (a.k.a. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone), Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, Lucky Luke: Western Fever, Frank Herbert's Dune, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
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