Late to the Party: Jurassic Park: The Game

jurassic park the game.jpg

Available on: PC (Reviewed), PS3, Xbox 360

Developed by: Telltale Games

Published by: Telltale Games

Directed by: Daniel Herrera, Marco Brezzo, Andrew Langley, Nick Herman

 

I’m a sucker for anything with dinosaurs in it. My unchecked passion has gotten me in trouble before, wooing me into buying Orion: Prelude and seeing Jurassic Park 3 in theaters. Other times, it allows me to take a risk and discover something wonderful, or at least enjoyable. In the case of Jurassic Park: The Game, I found a worthy sequel to Jurassic Park that was just as fun and flawed as the original movie, though in different ways.

The game starts on the main island on the same day the main characters from the movie arrive. We meet several characters in different areas, kind of giving the game two openings.

Two of the characters we meet early on are a dinosaur veterinarian (as in a person who is a veterinarian and takes care of dinosaurs, not a dinosaur that is also a veterinarian), which the most awesome sounding of all occupations including nuclear physicist and professional crocodile friend), and his teenaged-rebel-but-ends-up-not-being-a-stereotypical-rebel-teenager daughter. Things start to go wrong as, on the way back to the boat to leave the island, Dennis Nedry’s acts of sabotage start releasing dinosaurs. This was a fantastic touch, allowing the game to waste no time in explaining how the dino-sized dump makes contact with the fan.

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I made a similar face when I first saw the graphics and some of the animations. However, I soon got used to them and started to enjoy them… most of them.

The main plot focuses on making it off the island without getting stuck in a dinosaur’s teeth, and to do this you must solve puzzles and correctly execute quick time events as you progress. The story and characters are the best part of this game, so I don’t want to reveal anything and lessen your experience.

There are around six main characters over the course of the game, though saying you mainly play as any of them is a bit of a stretch. Depending on who is most predominate in the shot determines who you control. As you control each character, you have a set number of things you can interact with on the screen. It was difficult to get into the spirit of the game with such limited control, but after an hour, that hesitation dissipated and I fell into the rhythm of the game.

The only time you have more control than that is when you’re trying to solve a puzzle, which I must admit, I was a huge fan of. Nearly every puzzle was interesting. They added new parts of the park and posed logistical problems that were surprising but made sense. While it doesn’t have the “Velociraptor will remember that” style notifications The Walking Dead did, choices you make and different objectives you fail or succeed at can help or hinder you later in the game. While not every choice ended in death or would cause noticeable problems later, enough had noticeable effects that made me wonder which ones really did matter in the long run.

Action scenes are nothing more than a string of quick time events. However, the content of those scenes and my connection to the characters made those quick time events really enjoyable.

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Herding dinosaurs: more fun than it sounds.

The first Jurassic Park film is fun, but it is by no means perfect. It is full of plot holes, silly moments, and outcomes that make no sense when your brain stops focusing on all of the dino-awesomeness. Like the movie, the game seems to hope its own awesomeness is enough to overshadow its flaws. I noticed glitches like characters lifting off and flying around the screen, teleporting, and subtly skating away from another character as if they farted and didn’t want to be within hitting range when the other person smelled it. There were also choppy or missing music and sound effect cuts, cutscenes that repeated themselves, and a few unforgivingly amateur animations. A few times, I died, reloaded, and appeared after the failed quick time event only to immediately die again. It did fix itself after the second death each time, thankfully.

There were also a few nods to the original film that were as subtle as a brachiosaurus with fireworks firing off its neck. As cute as they were meant to be, they were ultimately groan-inducing and tone-breaking.

Let’s talk about nice things again. Telltale Studios has done something few other game developers have managed to do: make a child character that isn’t annoying. I thought it might have been a fluke with Clementine from The Walking Dead, but Jess, the aforementioned teenaged daughter with the most boss-ass dad in the franchise, is well-rounded, properly comical, and sympathetic. She plays on some of the bratty, teenaged daughter tropes, but those are minor character points that do not detour from her more favorable qualities. She has positive ideas and traits to contribute to the group, and while she is not the most fleshed out, she is interesting.

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The game uses very cinematic camera choices to sell the feeling of the original movie. Sometimes this is nice, sometimes it makes me wonder why they made a game.

The game is meant to play more like an interactive movie than a traditional game. For that reason, I would have preferred to see this game as something other than a game. With a tighter story and tying up of a few loose ends that never get tied up shaved off, it could have been a great script for a movie that, story-wise, was an even better sequel than Jurassic World. Alternatively, with some time spent on expanding on those same loose ends, it could have been a great script for the first half of a Jurassic Park television show. Ultimately, the game mechanics kind of lessened the experience.

For every problem, it had something else that pulled me back in. For every glitch, there was a moment that made me laugh or cringe in a good way. For every poor animation, there was a tense moment that truly made my rectum tighten.

Even with its problems and the fact that I would have rather experienced the story as a Netflix series, I still enjoyed the game. If you see it on sale and you have an open six hours to beat it, I’d recommend giving it a play.

I punched a raptor in the face, threw a pack of cigarettes into a dinosaur’s mouth, and watched my father die so horrifically it defied the laws of physics.

7/10 would laugh at my own death again.

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