Disney's PK: Out of the Shadows Review

Unless playing poorly made games is your pastime, avoiding this game is highly suggested.

Disney's PK: Out of the Shadows is the latest game from Ubi Soft to feature Disney's chronically cranky character Donald Duck. This cel-shaded third-person shooter is completely substandard in nearly every aspect and therefore is impossible to recommend, even to the young audience that the game is targeted toward. The end product is a game that feels somewhat incomplete and thrown together at the last minute. Unless you're a fan of an unpleasant gaming experience, it's probably best to avoid this game, as there are simply many better games available that are more worth your time.

Donald Duck, sleeping on the job.
Donald Duck, sleeping on the job.

The game begins when Donald Duck falls asleep at his security guard job and dreams about becoming a superhero. He is then transported to the future and is transformed into a platyrhynchos kineticus, or "energized duck," by a being known only as "One," who charges Donald with saving the world from a race of aliens. He is given a spiffy new outfit and, unfittingly, a new voice, completely unlike what you would associate with Donald Duck. It's somewhat telling of the experience you'll have with the actual game.

Upon taking control of the game, you'll find it very similar to just about any other third-person shooter on the market, although the difficulty has been turned down considerably in order to accommodate younger players. Throughout each of the game's levels, you'll blast aliens, collect tokens to open locked doors, and rescue kidnapped scientists. You control Donald, or PK, with the left analog stick, while jumping and shooting are mapped to the face buttons on the controller. The right shoulder button handles targeting, and targets can also be switched by pressing left or right on the other analog stick. It's an easy control scheme to get the hang of; however, playing the game is much more of a chore, due to the clunky implementation of these controls. The game has a lock-on targeting feature that seems to work intermittently. Jumping to avoid a shot will, in most cases, break the lock on your enemy, forcing you to target the enemy all over again. In other cases, the game will target something entirely different from what you intended to aim at. When this happens, you're usually turned around 180 degrees, and the enemy is free to blast you while you're trying to come to grips with what exactly happened. Equally sporadic is the game's camera--you have virtually no control over it, and it seems to always pick a completely undesirable viewing angle. Given that many of the levels are based indoors and feature numerous twists and turns, the bad camera makes traversing your way through the game much more of a chore than it need be. In short, the game is completely lacking in the basic building blocks of a solid-playing game.

If you can get past the weak controls and spotty camera, you're left with a game that plays very simply. To get through to the end of the game, all you'll need to do is collect tokens, shoot enemies, obtain the required power-ups to get you past certain long jumps, and rescue enough scientists to save the planet. Taking care of enemies is easy enough, since they usually stand in one place and shoot in your general direction. You can easily dispatch them by locking on to them and dodging their slow-moving shots. Even the most novice of gamers should have no problem with this aspect of the game. The rescue portion of the game, on the other hand, is a little more difficult. When PK enters certain rooms, a timer will start counting down, letting you know you're in an area that contains hostages. You're given a few precious seconds to find them, which in most cases simply isn't enough time. Many of the prisoners are hidden in obscure areas, and you don't have any way to really know where they may be hiding. Run out of time, and you can still finish the level, but you'll probably have to play through it again in order to rescue the required number of scientists to complete your mission. It's like adding insult to injury, forcing you to play through the poorly designed and repetitive levels multiple times.

Disney's PK is flawed on many levels.
Disney's PK is flawed on many levels.

Visually, this game simply isn't that impressive. It's colorful and futuristic, much like you would expect from a game based on a cartoon hero, but it just doesn't stand up to other games on the market. The textures within the game are bland and repeated profusely, resulting in everything looking pretty similar. Your character and the enemies you encounter are rendered using a minimal number of polygons and thus look very blocky. This is somewhat covered up by the use of cel shading, but the effect isn't even used uniformly throughout the game. Animation is kept to a fair minimum too. As a result, the game not only plays bad, but it looks bad too. Given the record set so far, you can't expect much out of the audio either, unless you're a fan of ultrarepetitive and generic techno, which really doesn't fit in with the rest of the game. The various sound effects used throughout the game aren't even noteworthy; they're merely there to get the job done.

Ultimately, Disney's PK: Out of the Shadows is a game that would have ended up being much better if more effort had been put into the overall design, but as it stands, it seems to have been thrown together just to be a product on the shelf. There are many other games in this genre that you'd be better off spending your time with. Unless playing poorly made games is your pastime, avoiding this game is highly suggested.

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Disney's PK: Out of the Shadows More Info

  • First Released Nov 1, 2002
    • GameCube
    • PlayStation 2
    Unless playing poorly made games is your pastime, avoiding this game is highly suggested.
    Average Rating116 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Published by:
    Platformer, 3D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.