‘Security systems have failed and the creatures of the park roam free. Now, a rogue corporation will stop at nothing to acquire the dinosaur embryos stolen and lost by Dennis Nedry. Experience a brand new adventure set during the events of the first Jurassic Park movie and see new areas and dinosaurs in this landmark adventure 65 million years in the making!‘
The Jurassic Park movies are a mixed bag. The original movie captured the imagination of an entire generation (and still holds up today), but the sequels were an excellent demonstration of diminishing returns. They were still fun, but some of the magic had gone. When I heard that Telltale Games (of Sam and Max fame) were taking a shot at making a game set around the original film, I was cautiously optimistic. Movie tie-in games have a pretty poor track record, but Telltale weren’t setting out to make your typical action game, it could go either way.
Thankfully, Jurassic Park: The Game is by no means a shoddy tie-in; the developers are obviously big fans of the franchise and their attention to detail makes the game feel like a true part of the series. While the game certainly doesn’t match up to Telltale’s most famous franchise Sam and Max, it’s a fun game that will keep you interested throughout. Given Telltale’s history, I expected this to be another point-and-click game, but it actually plays more along the lines of Heavy Rain. While point-and-click elements are still present, the majority of the game is controlled with a series of Quick-Time Events. The responsiveness of the controls varied greatly throughout the game; there are sections that play through without any problems followed by awkward sections that require the player to memorise a sequence of buttons rather than respond to the on-screen prompts. This is a big problem in this style of game, the entire experience depends on how smoothly the player can get through the QTE’s to the next story moment. It shouldn’t be easy, but it shouldn’t require superhuman response times either. After a number of deaths, the game will make sequences easier, but there doesn’t seem to be any hard and fast rule for this helping hand.
One nice side-effect of repeatedly dying is the chance to see the many death animations that the developers have put into the game. This might sound a bit odd at first, but it quickly becomes apparent that a great deal of effort has been put into making a lot of amusing and gruesome deaths for each of the characters. It takes some of the sting out of dying and I’ll admit to sometimes failing a sequence deliberately just so I could see how my character would die. This is the sort of random fun that is such a hallmark of the Sam and Max series and it’s nice to see that influence in Jurassic Park.
There are some characters that I would love to see eaten permanently, particularly the unbearably precocious 15-year-old girl who seems remarkably unconcerned at the story’s horrific events. I really hate this sort of character, it’s just bad writing. There are plenty of ways to make a teenage character both realistic (relatively speaking) and useful to the plot, but so many writers take the easy way out and go for the boy/girl wonder type of character. Luckily, the other characters are fairly interesting and there are some great moments and relationships that develop throughout the game. I was genuinely interested in these characters as alliances shifted and dark motivations were revealed while their party was inevitably whittled down by the dinosaurs, but there were enough awkward moments to keep me from really caring whether or not they would make it off the island.
The story in general is a hit-and-miss affair. While there are the aforementioned good character moments, there are also a large number of absolutely ridiculous moments where the park’s dinosaurs are reduced to the level of comic relief as they chase down their seemingly superhuman prey. One of the core themes of the Jurassic Park movies was how insignificant the human characters are to the dinosaurs; any one of them could kill a human with no more thought than stepping on an ant. Why then, do we have half the cast of this game outrunning T-Rex’s and Velociraptors at every turn? It’s a blatant attempt to add suspense to the game, but it only serves to pull the player out of the story.
Hit-and-miss is the best way to describe Jurassic Park: The Game. When the controls are working well and the story is firing on all cylinders, this game is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, through most of the game it’s only one or the other. While it certainly isn’t a game I would be rushing out to play again, it was a fun way to spend an afternoon. If you’re a fan of the franchise, it’s worth checking out; but I’d advise waiting for the inevitable Steam sale.
What I Liked – Felt true to the movies. Great death sequences. Some good story and character moments.
What I Didn’t Like – Annoying characters. Frustrating controls. Ridiculous story moments.
Rating – 3 out of 5 (Average)