PK: Out of the Shadows – PlayStation 2
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: November 1st, 2002 (NA)
Nerd Rating: 2/10
Not too long ago I went through a phase where I decided to go back and revisit some of the PS2 games I remembered from my childhood. I scrolled through my selection, playing some games, loving some, liking some, and even disliking some. But none, I felt more loathing or hating towards, than PK Out of The Shadows. I decided to play the game without looking at any reviews, and at first glance, it looked as though it was going to be playable. I had played the Gone Quackers title of the Donald Duck “series” before, and it was quite decent, so I had decent expectations for this game. I mean, come on! Donald Duck, one of our funniest childhood heroes was a freaking superhero who has to save the planet from aliens! I mean, there is at least some opportunity for some environment and some humor there. One bad thing, however, was that I couldn’t remember playing the game at all. What was this PK: Out of the Shadows and how the hell did it get on my shelf?
PK: Out of the Shadows was a PlayStation 2 game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft itself in 2002. Many buyers of the game likely assumed that this game was actually a standalone deal and had no real source material, other than the Disney characters in it. This is actually incorrect. The PK character in the game (Donald dressed as a Batman-esque superhero) is actually based off of Paperinik (or Duck Avenger in the U.S) from a comic book of the same name. An Italian creation, the comic book focused on Donald being a caped, vigilante sort of super hero and had him bring justice to the city of Duckburg. The story and environment of these comics very much resembled the workings of Batman, and it was a bit of a parody of sorts. While reading some myself, I can actually recommend the comics. They have decent humor, good action bits, and are overall very enjoyable to read! So then, how could Ubisoft Montreal screw up a decent comic via a video game? Very easily apparently.
First of all, you sadly won’t be fighting any crime in Duckburg, and there is no real enveloping story to it either. Literally, Donald falls asleep, dreams about people making fun of him, and wishes he could become a superhero. He wakes up and it happens. Literally, I am not joking. And the worst part of it is, this is NOT how it happens in the comic books, making an absolute mockery out of a still unknown source material to many of the gamers thus far. In the game, a character from the comics (Uno, or, One in this game) gives Donald his suit instead of Donald finding one himself. The whole aspect of Donald being a janitor in a tower during this whole sequence was actually part of the comics, but it didn’t happen until after Donald had his suit in the comics! Uno in the comics was a more minor character, being the A.I of Ducklair Tower, but in this game he is basically your mentor, and tells you how to play the game. He starts off by giving you your suit and…a new voice? I don’t really get why that’s needed here, but, okay? And he tells you that the earth is being invaded and only YOU can stop the aliens trying to do so! So Donald (now called PK for some reason) decides to destroy him some aliens! Well, the story kind of got off to a rushed start, how’s that gameplay though? Surely that’s good!
Actually, no. The gameplay to this game is absolutely monotoneous and greatly boring. This is not a game that gets better the more you play it either, this is not some acquired taste bullshit. No. This game literally is so bad that it gets worse every second you play it. Basically, I’d call the game a 3rd person shooter platformer. I know there were several better ways to describe the genre, but I just like being original, gosh. The point of the game though is to go from point A to Point B while platforming and shooting aliens. That doesn’t sound so bad on paper, but in practice, the gameplay is possibly the most frustrating I’ve ever come across. The camera works as a “make yourself throw up” feature in that it corrects itself in a ridiculous way anytime you pretty much do anything, making the game almost unplayable.
The platforming itself is already pretty frustrating, but when combined with the horrible camera, the game is nearly impossible to even remotely enjoy, as you will assuredly fall several times, and keep having to retry, all while dealing with the stupid camera. Lakitu from Super Mario 64 is shaking his head, because the camera seriously ruins the game right off the bat. Other than that simple fact though, the actual combat isn’t fun. You just lock on to enemies, shoot them, kill them, and move on. Its that simple. Blast them with lasers, rinse and repeat. But somehow, Ubisoft Montreal found a way to make that even more monotonous than it already sounds. Instead of having a smooth lock-on sequence like most decent games, PK Out of the Shadows‘ lock-on feature is very unreliable and literally locks off an enemy anytime you basically want to move to dodge an attack. It is so frustrating and makes getting through the game all the more tedious. One other thing you’ll note is that the combat is very easy, even for a game that was clearly supposed to be marketed toward children. I literally did not die in combat once, but don’t worry, I did, in fact die.
The jumping and camera have this buddy I like to call “purple goo,” and it’s this slime stuff that’s below a lot of the platforms throughout the game. Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this stuff kills you in one touch (I mean one fall in the stuff will show you that), but when you’re attempting to jump and platform through the game, you will fall and miss several platforms due to the camera issues and be forced into the goo. Dying again and again and again and again. And that’s where the game gets its difficulty, from tediousness. In my last review, I mentioned something about “fake difficulty,” and no game represents this concept more than PK: Out of The Shadows. Instead of challenging kids with fun and rewarding gameplay, the game ends up being tedious to the point where it would likely over-challenge kids and piss them off to the point of them wanting to turn off their games and go commit crimes or something kids do other than video games.
The story is terrible, the gameplay is horrendous, and everything else is sub par. PK: Out of the Shadows is a tedious game that recycles enemies, level designs, and gameplay, to make quite a boring experience. There is nothing about this game that is “So bad, its good” either as it is just boring, unfun, and impossible to recommend for anyone besides, perhaps, a collector of Disney items or video games in general. This is a game that was made to sit on a shelf because basically nothing in the game really works. The camera is the worst I have ever used, the combat is dull, overly easy and frustrating, and the entire platforming experience will have even patient Kindergarten teachers punching through a wall. No one would enjoy this game. Not you, not your kids, not Disney enthusiasts… No one. And that is why I have chosen to give PK: Out of The Shadows a Nerd Rating of 2 out of 10.
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