INTRO: I've got a big soft spot in my heart for
Jurassic Park. I'm hot off of a trip to Orlando's Universal Studios
Islands of Adventure, where I got to come face to face with the vicious
T-Rex (plus I got to catch Weird Al, singer of "Jurassic Park" in
person!). On top of that, the Blu-Ray set just came out, capturing the
film in high definition glory- and it still looks great. I'm not going
to mention the other two films.
I was thrilled to hear that Telltale games had stepped up to the plate, and developed a new game based on those wacky dinosaurs. I really loved that film when I was a kid, and eagerly anticipated this new video game recreation, since this was the team that recently helmed the mostly excellent (and most importantly, not terrible) Back to the Future game. It was made with love, so I have been holding out hope.
Read on to find out if love and hope are enough to make a great game!
Picking up right where the flick left off in a way, the dinosaur
embryos are being targeted by a research company called BioSyn, and
they get attacked when they travel to Isla Nublar by some dinos. Nima,
The sole survivor hooks up with the park's vet and his young daughter
and they're trying to get the F out of Bedrock. It's disappointing that
this is a story devoid of almost all of the characters from the film,
and to be honest the story isn't overly gripping. I mean, the
characters are pretty likable, and there's no doubt that there are some
story pieces that get tied up from the film itself, but it's the tone
that I struggeld with.
I think that the main reason that I wasn't really riveted by Jurassic Park is because the creators strangely decided to make the game far goofier in nature than the flicks were (or at least, the original). I won't spoil all of the moments, but there's dinosaurs doing some stupid things in this game. They display some cartoony tendencies and take some silly pratfalls. The whole thing is too wacky, and not nearly tense enough.
In terms of the way the game plays, it admittedly apes (dinos?) the style that Heavy Rain brought- a very context sensitive style. Of course, it doesn't work nearly as well as it did in Heavy Rain. This reliance on quicktime events is dull and repetitive to say the least; and sometimes you actually wish you had more control to do simple gestures like moving around and the like. It reminded me too much of Dragon's Lair- I never felt like I had enough control. The game tries to mix in really basic puzzle aspects, but they aren't enough to bring any meat to the game.
So you're directing people around while trying to avoid being eaten by dinosaurs. The game is just so slowly paced when there's no dinosaur action going on, that it almost gets tedious. There are some decent dialogue interractions here and there but it isn't enough. The whole thing feels like you're playing a movie in a way, but doesn't give you a very 'open world' sense. You do what you have to do, then you enter a quicktime cutscene, press buttons in the right order and then watch a cinematic unfold. It just doesn't feel very interactive, although the button presses are well timed, in most cases.
At the end of the day, I can't say what I would have done to make this a different experience. I felt that the gameplay was just too stuffy and canned and although there are some undoubtedly cool moments, I felt like I was watching the game moreso than really playing it. If you LOVE Jurassic Park, it's definitely still worth a play, just to revisit the world. Sure, it's a bit too tongue in cheek but there are some memorable moments and cool dinosaur setpieces. I guess I just felt like it wasn't quite enough.
Graphics here are serviceable, but not up to par with today's
standards. First of all, in a game so bound to dialogue, there
shouldn't be so many bugs. The mouths don't move like they should with
the words and are out of sync all the time. Even when it's working,
Jurassic Park feels like a last-generation game. It looks alright, but
this is not really anything to write home about.
Hearing the original theme again is always super exciting, and the music works fairly well in the game. Voice acting is also pretty good, but I experienced a lot of audio sync issues, and the soundtrack seemed to stop and start at will. Not a great sign, as it felt unfinished.
I'm glad that this game exists, but it doesn't fare as well as Back
to the Future did. It has some decent moments but they aren't enough,
and when you have dinosaurs riding in a roller coaster, I feel you've
lost a bit of the original intent of the source material. If it gets
cheap or you're a fanatic, pick it up. If not, don't pay full price.
Final Score: 6/10