Review – Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier
Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier is a cinematic “choose your own adventure” set in the new Planet of the Apes cinematic universe. You will be making decisions for both the Apes and Humans. Set one year after the events of the excellent Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the game shows how the actions of Koba have impacted other Apes. The story is pretty far removed from Caesar’s, following a completely different tribe, so just like the previously reviewed Crisis on the Planet of the Apes VR, don’t expect returning characters from the big screen.
You will be deciding the actions of two distinct characters. As the Apes, you will be following Bryn as he decides with his brother what’s best for his tribe. You will also control the actions of a town’s new mayor called Jess.
Much like the Dawn and War movies, the game will not only have a human-ape conflict, but internal conflicts within these two factions. Bryn may clash with has older brother Tola, who is out for Human blood: it’s up to you if you want to follow his path or try and steer him to a more peaceful solution. As Jess you have to make the best decisions for the town whilst dealing with the potential ape threat and a few drifters.
As expected, the apes absolutely steal the show with top-notch performance capture. A similar amount of care that was put into the movies was clearly also put in here, as the level of detail on display is simply amazing. The voices, subtle facial animations and body language are fully on display. The conflict between Bryn and Tola were easily some of Last Frontiers’ best moments.
While the Ape story is downright brilliant, the human side of the story does suffer a little bit. It’s not that it’s bad, far from it, it’s just not entirely interesting, especially when comparing it to Bryn’s dilemmas. The voice acting is pretty good here as well with some really believable performances. The main character herself is passable and a few of the other side characters are good enough as well, but there are a few that are just boring and plain forgettable.
Last Frontier requires very little input from the player, only when making a dialogue choice or performing actions during the games set pieces. The game will pause so you can make dialogue decisions, removing all sense of urgency to let you think about what you want to do. “Illusion of choice” is something you will be thinking of a lot when playing Last Frontier. Multiple times during my first playthrough I objected to something heavily only for such action to have little to no impact in the overall story. There are some choices that have big impact, but these are obvious and saved for the last two chapters.
Clocking in at around four hours, there’s not a lot of meat to the game. There are three possible endings which are mostly based on final act choices, so it’s easy enough to see all of them in a short time span. There’s also very minor variations to each of these depending on your relationships at the end of your playthrough: while not entirely amazing, it’s still a nice enough touch.
Visually, Last Frontier is a treat. Almost every frame is amazing to look at, packed with a lot of detail. As mentioned before, the apes look stunning with so much detail put into their expressions, just like the game’s cinematic source material. This doesn’t mean everything’s perfect, as there are a handful of assets and environmental elements that don’t look nowhere near as good as the humans or apes, making them stand out a lot, and not in a good way. There are some more serious technical problems which can really impact the experience, namely frame drops and stuttering when transitioning between shots (especially after making action choices). A mixture of quicker cuts and stuttering can lead to confusion as to what’s happening.
Last Frontier works incredibly well as a movie, but as a game it’s really hard to recommend to anyone but fans of the new apes trilogy.
Packed with detail, Last Froniter is a joy to look at, but the stuttering and occasional bad animation can have a big impact.
The idea of a choice-based Planet of the Apes game is enticing, but the execution misses the mark.
Great sound design all round with some well done vocal performances.
Fun Factor: 6.5
An entertaining addition to the Apes series, but not much else. Only recommended to fans of the franchise.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC.
A copy of Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier was provided by the publisher.