Planet Of The Apes: Last Frontier

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There’s no deny­ing the tech­ni­cal bril­liance be­hind the re­booted Planet Of The Apes movies, and with The Imag­i­nar­ium – the com­pany that pro­vided the mo­tion cap­ture tech­nol­ogy for the films – on board, Last Frontier is just as com­mit­ted to eye-pop­ping vis­ual fi­delity as its source ma­te­rial.

To de­scribe this stun­ning vir­tual spinoff as a game isn’t en­tirely ac­cu­rate, your lim­ited in­put makes the term ‘in­ter­ac­tive movie’ a more fit­ting de­scrip­tion. player par­tic­i­pa­tion rarely ex­tends be­yond flick­ing the thumb­stick left or right to com­mit to a choice, and when it does, it merely in­volves a sin­gle but­ton press that al­lows your char­ac­ter to per­form sit­u­a­tion-spe­cific ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing ac­tion se­quences. out­side of that, Last Frontier is sim­ply one long cutscene.

The ac­tion takes place be­tween the sec­ond and third films, but in­tri­cate knowl­edge of their events is un­nec­es­sary as this tells its own story in­volv­ing a break­away band of apes strug­gling for sur­vival in the rocky Moun­tains. rev­el­ling in the same moral am­bi­gu­ity as its sil­ver screen coun­ter­part, the nar­ra­tive con­cerns the un­easy in­ter­ac­tion be­tween these in­tel­li­gent pri­mates and a small group of hu­mans who are des­per­ate to pre­serve their dwin­dling race. you wit­ness the events and make choices on both sides of the con­flict, the aware­ness that nei­ther side is en­tirely right­eous or cor­rupt adds lay­ers to the de­li­cious de­ci­sion-mak­ing com­plex­ity.

Com­plex, that is, un­til you re­alise that you’re es­sen­tially guided down the same path re­gard­less of what choices you make, with the only im­pact­ful de­ci­sions oc­cur­ring to­wards the end of the game. Take a stance that goes against where the nar­ra­tive wants to go and you’ll rou­tinely be over­ruled, ei­ther by an­other char­ac­ter or sim­ply the game it­self, lead­ing to the same sit­u­a­tion re­gard­less of your choices. For in­stance, de­cide against ape hunt­ing in favour of fo­cus­ing on pro­tect­ing the town and you’ll be out­voted, or choose not to toss a rock at a flee­ing hu­man and you’ll tackle him any­way, ex­pos­ing your so-called free­dom as lit­tle more than a veiled il­lu­sion.

It also con­stantly fun­nels you down the path to­wards peace be­tween the two sides, ef­fec­tively mak­ing you go out of your way to wit­ness any­thing out­side of an idyl­lic con­clu­sion. Un­like in a Tell­tale game, there are no sur­prises or red her­rings here; ev­ery choice is sur­pris­ingly shal­low, un­fold­ing with­out any unan­tic­i­pated de­vel­op­ments or out­comes.

While the story is well pre­sented, Last Frontier lacks the ex­quis­ite emo­tional im­pact of the movies and fails to add any­thing overly sig­nif­i­cant or worth­while to the fran­chise. Hav­ing the means to sway events, form al­le­giances or ad­vance fac­tions in such a morally grey set­ting is an ex­cit­ing en­deav­our, but when the lay­ers are peeled back, the lim­ited scope of its ex­e­cu­tion be­comes starkly ap­par­ent and ul­ti­mately makes this a dis­ap­point­ing case of style over sub­stance.

Above: Play­ers take con­trol of the ape Bryn. As the mid­dle child of the tribe’s leader, he strug­gles be­tween ad­her­ing to his fa­ther’s de­mands to keep the tribe safe, and fol­low­ing his reck­less older brother who’s set on dom­i­nance over the hu­mans.

night TRAP: 25th AN­NIVER­SARY Edi­tion

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