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.