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Jurassic Park: The Game

Michael December 15, 2011 PC, Reviews 1 Comment

Overview

The first Jurassic Park film was a defining moment of my childhood. I was seven years old, and my tiny child mind could hardly comprehend what I was witnessing on-screen. I loved dinosaurs as a kid, and watching a tale of a remote island filled with these prehistoric creatures was fascinating. Sadly, the Jurassic Park video games have not been handled with as much care as the original film. They were fast cash-in attempts that I could never enjoy for more than an hour without getting aggravated with how bad they were.

When Telltale announced they were working on a Jurassic Park game, as well as other famous properties, I was excited but optimistic that they would provide me with the ideal Jurassic Park game I’ve always wanted. They’ve made claims that it would resemble Heavy Rain, a game I quite enjoyed yet wasn’t sold that a high intensity saga like Jurassic Park would translate well to a point-and-click style game focused around quick-time events. And it didn’t. There are moments in Jurassic Park: The Game that seemed appropriate for this genre, but it mostly came down to me pushing the same button to watch an outcome of a story I didn’t care for.

Gameplay

Jurassic Park: The Game does not venture far from the fiction told from the movie. You are set on the remote island of Isla Nublar that houses this park of cloned dinosaurs. There are essentially two main stories happening at the same time that begin to intertwine once the game gets going. You have a dad, Gerry Harding, who is showing his daughter Jess what this park is all about. At this point, you get an idea of how this game will play as the daughter is scanning the area for dinosaurs. You control the camera on an image and click on all the clues, which conveniently have little magnifying glass logos over top of them. You click them to watch the dialog play out until you’ve seen them all, in which the adventure progresses. This makes up about half of what you do in the game, with the other half being quick-time events.

The other narrative focuses on a group of thieves breaking into the park after a Barbasol can filled with dinosaur embryos, in which they plan on selling for millions of dollars. Plot points happen, they introduce a few new characters, but it becomes another me-too adventure of how to escape this island, in which all the films became. One of my major gripes is the story itself is a drag to play through, especially since I only really cared for the dad and daughter, but even they became a repetitive mess of a stereotypical dad and teenage daughter relationship.

The other characters I would like to watch being eaten by dinosaurs, and actually, I allowed this to happen. The best this game has is the death scenes, watching these morally terrible people being eaten alive by a T-Rex is good and all, but a Teen rating means the black screen comes up quicker than what you would hope for. It’s a shame I couldn’t connect more with these characters, but they all wound up being more annoying than having any sympathy with. And yes, unlike Heavy Rain, you fail a QTE and it’s game over, no pushing forward without that character. I wish they could have allowed me to push on, but it would be a really short game due to the 7-8 characters Jurassic Park has.

I’m not going to say this game is hard, because it’s not set up in a way to be challenging, but expect to fail many times. These QTE events are short and you need to have thunderbolt fingers to nail them all on the first attempt. So prepare yourself to fail and play through the same sections multiple times. I bring this up because it completely breaks the game for me. In a typical game, things go awry and we are forced to replay sections. No big deal, unless you are only a story game in which you see the same scene being played over and over. Think about watching Jurassic Park the movie and every ten minutes the movie rewinds itself thirty seconds. It also breaks the immersion when a scene is unfolding and pauses for you to input your command, which is generally just you hitting one button. It’s almost like they were forced to do this to make it feel more “gamey” and not just a long boring tale.

Not to keep hammering on the story, but they do put you in some ridiculous scenarios. Now I understand we are talking about an island filled with cloned dinosaurs, but how about we put them on a roller coaster ride? This is not a joke either. You also get to play hide-and-seek with a T-Rex. What about the fact that you only really see about four or five different species of dinosaurs. A lot of decisions made with Jurassic Park made me come to a conclusion that this style of genre was not meant for a full featured dinosaur game.

Graphics

Not much of a factor with this game. The dinosaurs look nice but with a tale that rarely peaks with excitement, the visuals seem really drab. Also, the setting really doesn’t change much besides going into a few desolate buildings that contain nothing of interest; you mostly are out in the woods. I didn’t notice much pop-in or texture issues, so the game has that at least.

Fun Factor

I think I’ve stressed the point that you don’t really do much in Jurassic Park: The Game. Once the action ramps up, it can be fun at times trying to get a perfect score hitting all the right buttons, but the game loses momentum when you screw up and have to start over again. Some moments, one wrong press can send you to the retry screen, but for the most part you can screw up a few times before it’s over. Watching your character get eaten by a dinosaur is kind of exhilarating, but that’s not the point this game was trying to come across with.

Overall

I think Jurassic Park is a game that can be skipped. A couple of great moments with the T-Rex cannot help this 6-8 hour long treacherous journey through Isla Nublar. Fans of the first film have been beaten enough with movies and games that haven’t gotten close to the grandness of Jurassic Park, and I am still on the search for that very product. Only the truly hardcore fans should play Jurassic Park: The Game if you must feel the need to gather all stories within this universe, otherwise pick another Telltale game to play through.

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