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(Disney's) PK: Out of the Shadows

Score: 50%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft Entertainment
Media: GCD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

Except for his appearance in Kingdom Hearts, video games haven't been kind to Donald Duck. While his feathered relatives have gone on to star in fantastic games such as Darkwing Duck and Duck Tales, Donald's outings have been less than spectacular. Unfortunately, video game fame still eludes Donald as even a cool new superhero name and comic book-style adventure can't save him from another average game.

Drawing from the Italian comic book of the same name, PK: Out of the Shadows, the entire game is cel shaded, giving it a comic book feel. This really adds to the game's presentation, but I had mixed feelings about how much I really liked it. Most of what I disliked came from the unbelievably drab color palette used in the game. Everything is extremely dark and, except for the few neat lighting effects, there's an overall depressing feeling to the game. There is also a noticeable lack of diversity. Each mission begins in a different setting, but once you're within the levels, everything looks exactly the same. I also couldn't figure out why some story sequences were done in a neat panel-by-panel style, keeping with the game's cel shaded look, while others were rendered in 3D. It's the little things like these that ruined what could have been a nice presentation.

The background music has a nice beat, and helps to set a good tempo for the game. However, the voice work annoyed me to no end. First of all, there's no way that these are the official Disney voices. Sure they sound like the characters, but they are overdone. However, these little things are forgivable and can easily be looked over. What really got my goat was that they changed Donald's voice. Yeah, this is my Disney fanboy coming out - but Donald without his voice is like Disney World without Space Mountain or Small World. It's just one of those things you expect to always stay the same. It's not even a cool, over-the-top superhero voice!


Donald Duck has got to be one of the most industrious characters ever. Think about it, how many other animated characters have held as many jobs as he has? He's served in nearly every branch of the Armed Forces; he's been a Canadian Mountie, a train engineer, and even a court magician. This time, Donald's work ethic takes him to the fast paced and exciting job of security guard. One night while performing his usual duties, which translates to sleeping, he dreams that a super computer named One offers him the chance to become a superhero. At least he thinks he's dreaming at first...I think. Okay to be honest, I thought the opening movie was way too confusing to follow, so I really had no idea about what was going on half the time. The gist of Donald's adventure is that he becomes the masked hero PK, which stands for the Latin 'Platyrhynchos Kineticus', or 'Duck of Energy' (see, 4 semesters of Latin does come in handy), and has to stop an alien race named the Evronians from taking over the world.

PK: Out of the Shadows plays like your standard platform game, complete with hidden areas, bottomless pits, and endless gangs of the same enemy appearing out of nowhere. One of the real failings of the game is that it explains all the unnecessary things, but glosses over the important stuff. For example, the first time you run across an Evronian soldier, One stops to explain that this big enemy is more powerful than the ones you've been fighting so far. Well, duh! Even the game's younger target audience is going to know that. But, I can't once recall any mention that I had limited time to rescue the scientists in each level, and that when the screen started flashing red it meant they were about to disappear. Of course, the reason you have to rescue the scientists in the first place is it's own mystery.


PK: Out of the Shadows seems to suffer from nearly every pitfall of platform games. Some of the jumps are nearly impossible, and enemies have this tendency to show up in the just the right spot where you can't hit them, but they have a clear shot. As cheap as it is to do that, it's taken to a new level in PK because enemies teleport to these spots. I ran across a few areas, such as a particularly nasty jump area in the third or fourth level, where I would jump to a platform that was empty only to have a soldier appear out of thin air and knock me off the platform. After your third time trying to jump on the same platform, this gets annoying. The enemy AI is terrible. Most of the time enemies just appear, stand in one area, and blast away at you while you dodge and jump around their shots.

These things aside, PK's adventure isn't very long, or very difficult, and can probably be completed in a few frustrating hours.

Game Mechanics:

For the most part, PK: Out of the Shadows plays a lot like another UbiSoft game, Rayman. In fact, the games share so many similarities that I wouldn't be at all surprised if a few lines of Rayman code found their way over to PK. This, of course, isn't a bad thing at all since both games feature very easy to learn control systems.

Most of PK's abilities come from his arm-mounted gadgets, which include lasers, rocket boosters, and a grappling claw-like device. In regards to PK's blaster, one of the more annoying factors is that once you get powerful ammo, there's no way to save it for when you have to deal with tougher enemies. It always felt like a waste when I would pick up the super-shot and would have to waste it on doors or smaller enemies that my normal shot had no problem dealing with.

Overall, PK fails to deliver anything new. Having played most of the newer platformers like Ratchet & Clank and Blinx: The Time Sweeper, PK feels like I'm taking one giant step back into the old NES games. There's very little to keep you interested in the game beyond the first few levels. Give this game to a 5 year-old kid, or an ardent Disney fan who rarely plays games, and they're liable to be content. Hand it to anyone else and, well, I'm sure you know where I'm going with this...

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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