Reader Review: Jurassic Park: The Game

It's a cinema classic, but how does the mayhem and carnage of Jurassic Park translate to a video game? Kotaku reader Powalen took one for the team and ventured into the park that no one else wants to visit.

Jurassic Park: The Game

I have to say, I'm quite a big fan of Jurassic Park. I was overjoyed when I heard Telltale Games had the license, but as more details were revealed, it was looking disappointing. It may not have lived up to some expectations, but I still walked away feeling like it wasn't the mass extinction it was made out to be.

What I Liked

"Spared no expense" -- What stood out to me most in this game was the plot. In fact, I would be completely OK with them modifying the script for a live-action Jurassic Park 4. I won't go into spoilers, but basically the game attempts to tie up all of the loose ends from the first film (you know, the best one). It revolves around a group of six or so characters all brought together during the park disaster. The main three include: Nima Cruz, a mercenary sent to retrieve a certain item lost during the first film, Gerry Harding, a park veterinarian who gets left behind after the initial evacuation and his daughter, Jess Harding. Each of the characters (including the others, who I won't spoil) have their own motivations and hidden agendas, which makes for some great storytelling.

"It's a UNIX system. I know this!" -- The attention to detail in this game is wonderful. It really shows that the folks at Telltale did their research, from the big things like the faithfully recreated sets from the first movie to small things like film-accurate power boxes (including pumping the primer handle four times to get a charge, of all things). Telltale then expanded the in-game park to include new dinosaurs, attractions and visitor areas that aren't seen in the film/novel. Thankfully, they all seem plausible to have existed and help create the idea of a larger park than just the car tour shown in the film.

"Hold on to your butts" -- The biggest criticism most people have with this game is the gameplay; specifically, the Quick-time events (QTE) that make up the action sequences. I was inclined to agree; however once I started playing I found I didn't mind them. The problem I have with QTE in other games is that I never expect them. In this game, you always do. I'm not saying that the QTE are superior to traditional control (they're not), but in an interactive movie (which this game basically is), they kind of work. The other two aspects of the gameplay are the exploration and conversation. Exploration involves moving the camera around a scene in a point-and-click search for information (with the occasional puzzle to solve) and Conversation involves the standard 'choose your response' talking. The interesting thing with this game is that you can switch control between multiple characters within some scenes (including an argument that you control both sides of), which I think is cool and gives an insight into each characters thoughts/surroundings.

What I Didn’t Like

"Don't get cheap on me, Dodgson" -- I'll be frank; the graphics in this game aren't very good. The animations can be quite stiff and the shadows especially are very poor in parts. I realise that this is Telltale's style, but when a character gets mauled by a dinosaur you expect to see a bit more than them simply being picked up and shaken. The dinosaurs themselves look quite nice considering the art style and the animation definitely picks up during quicktime event scenes, but I don't think that really makes up for the rest.

"(Not so) Clever girl" -- This is always a problem with this style of game: the player needs time to work out a puzzle, but the characters are in a life-or-death situation involving Velociraptors patiently waiting for you to make your move. Some scenes are timed to create a feeling of urgency, but ultimately you really need to suspend disbelief in order to stop thinking "that little girl could not dodge and then outrun that T-Rex".

"When you gotta go, you gotta go" -- One last criticism is that the game is fairly short. I finished it over a weekend (probably something like 6-8 hours of game time, depending on how much detail you go into in each scene). I would have liked it to be longer, but ultimately I'm glad they didn't try to pad out the script with useless dialogue.

What I Thought

Overall, my impression of Jurassic Park: The Game was good, but very different to what I first imagined. A lot of people seem to be dismissing it because of its 'interactive movie' style and poor graphics/animation, but if you're willing to get past that you'll find a great story that complements the first film near perfectly, with some likable characters and a certain Telltale charm. A good 'game' for fans of Jurassic Park, but sadly not much to enjoy for those who aren't familiar with or don't like the franchise.


Comments

    Thanks Powalen, I have been considering this but it has been hard to filter the feedback out there.
    A good informative review, which if I choose to spend my cash I have a clearer idea of what I'm getting. Previous it was "this game is terribad" or "awesome game" with very little detail or explanation

    The fact that you would be happy for this to be the story for the next JP movie gives me hope this isn't as bad as I thought.

    The bottom pic reminds me of this wonderful JP moment: (watch it till the end)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT8ZEU7ox7I

      The dino's need feathers: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/09/dinosaur-feathers-amber/

        Ooh, very cool. That first video also got a good chuckle out of me. xD

    Nice write up, Polawen. I used to love Telltale, but now almost everything they create leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Avoided Jurassic Park and have no interest in their upcoming stuff, alas.

      Yeah, I feel exactly the same way.

      Their controls are clunky and getting worse, the games have often been buggy and the writing kind of middle-of-the-road.

      Actually, I think that's my problem with everything they do. It's all just kind of mediocre. Not bad enough to get angry about (well, aside from controls) but never good enough for me to keep buying their games.

    Thanks heaps for the review. Good to see that Telltale kept the great story. I can deffinantly look past poor visuals for a great plot. I think I will have to give this one a crack.

    Thanks to this review, this game has moved back into my 'pick up when I have money for a cheap game' pile :)

    Really, give it a try.
    I didn't mind the story, but to reiterate the entire world's sentiment, QTEs are a pretty terrible mechanic when relied upon solely.
    Adding insult, I found that in some parts you could literally not touch the game, and it would keep going. So, your character might be running, the game might tell you to spam Right to run.... but if you don't, the character still runs, and reaches safety, without your input.
    That is a huge no-no in my book.

      Yeah, I can see where you're coming from and it is a bit silly that in those particular parts the QTE are more for getting a good score rather than actually effecting how the scene turns out (as opposed to the scenes that have bad outcomes if you fail the QTE).

      I still ended up trying as hard as I could though. xD

    I'll pass on this game, but that was a well written review.

    Nice job

    This the snes classic?

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