Jurassic Park: The Game

Most people on the planet older than 20 years old will be able to hum out the tune to Jurassic Park on cue — fact! They will also be able to reenact at least one of the scenes, whether its shaking jelly on a spoon, pretending to get electrocuted, or coyly stating “clever girl…” before dramatizing a Velociraptor shredding their guts up.

Jurassic Park is a landmark in film to most cinema goers on the planet, so needless to say it’s already had its fair share of video games to tie in with it. In this latest incarnation from Telltale Games, a new strand of storytelling is unleashed as we return to Isla Nublar and its prehistoric inhabitants.

Set in and around the original Jurassic Park movie, the plot of Jurassic Park: The Game jumps straight into the action as events on Dino Island are already kicking off. Initially you are introduced to Dr Jerry Harding (you know, the veterinarian  guy who was helping investigate Triceratops poo with Laura Dern in the movie) and his daughter who has come to visit. Despite feeling a bit familiar to Jeff Goldblum’s plot in The Lost World, the dynamic of the scenario does something to add tension between the characters in action situations; you’ve got to try and save your daughter from becoming T-Rex food after all, right? I mean, remember what happened to that chained up goat? Bad times!

Next you have a Spanish speaking mercenary, kind of like that gun-wielding, bandana-wearing chick from Aliens. My point is that despite mildly interesting traits, the characters don’t necessarily feel original, sound original, or particularly fit into the Jurassic Park scenario. It merely feels like a pic ‘n’ mix of cinema stereotypes crammed onto a dangerous island off Central America.

For the sake of nostalgia, the first couple of chapters in Episode 1 (this is a typical Telltale Episodic adventure after all!) bring you back to familiar surroundings. Firstly, we have the case of ‘What the hell happened to Dennis Nedry’s shaving foam can of dinosaur embryos after he got spat on by those flappy necked critters’, adventures between a Triceratops and its lunch, and a trip to the visitors center after the T-Rex missed out on having Sam Neill and co for lunch.

Unfortunately it doesn’t take long before what should be an exciting return to a tropical death trap turns into a frustrating and confusing series of clicks and manic tapping. It’s obvious from the outset that this game has been designed to feel more like Heavy Rain than something from a more classical point and click adventure that the Telltale Games team normally specialize in. The the lack of a character inventory does a lot of damage to the enjoyment factor for this very reason as there really isn’t anything more than  ‘click here to keep the story playing’ to the controls.

Forget scavenging for survival and escape, as Jurassic Park feels more like an interactive movie than an actual game. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but the big difference here is that games such as Heavy Rain were centered more around suspense and investigation rather than running away from prehistoric monsters. As a result the gameplay feels incredibly limiting as you mindlessly click your way through a storyline that doesn’t quite fit in anyway, without any real input or interaction, which is pretty much the point of playing a game!

On the flip-side, you are then faced with the games quick time events which are beyond frustrating. The concept of having timely direction button presses to outsmart dinosaur attacks should at least offer you some hope of completing them. The gold, silver and bronze scoring scheme for levels starts to take a hit during these sequences as the time frame for keying in directions, even for a fairly skilled button tapper like myself, is a bit too optimistic. Needless to say my patience for these sections drained as quickly as my death count rose and I soon lost any interest in my ‘score’ after being eaten one too many times for a reason that didn’t really feel like my fault.

The really good feature of this game was the camera switch on levels. By selecting the islands different security camera angles as available views on the environment, you are able to quickly move from one area and character to another without having to navigate your character around obstacles to get there. This would really cut down the time in between sections of solving puzzles, if there were any real puzzles to solve in the first place, but at least its a feature that didn’t wind me up like the others and felt like a well integrated part of the design.







One response to “Jurassic Park: The Game”

  1. Mark P avatar

    Such a shame to hear this getting fairly average reviews. Was really starting to look forward to it. 🙁

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