Jeremy enjoys gaming when not helping manage the college he graduated from.
Jurassic Park: The Game
First, Jurassic Park existed as a Michael Crichton novel, then as an award-winning film franchise. Now, Telltale Games brings us an episodic adventure game set during and after the events of the first movie.
On paper, the idea sounds great. You get to relive the majesty and mayhem of the first film in a different part of the park with a fresh set of characters, seeing both new and old locations. Along the way, you must make choices for your characters, solve puzzles to progress, and survive battles by succeeding in quick-time events. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well.. sort of.
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Here's some of what the game does right:
- Incorporates original John Williams music
- Multiple characters offer different perspectives
- Dinosaurs are well-animated
- Blends action with predators and calmer moments with the peaceful dinosaurs
I enjoy the premise of the game. Going back to the roots of Jurassic Park but focusing on a different part of the island was a fantastic idea and leads to several nostalgic moments. The sections where you're escaping from dinosaurs are tense, and you get to witness a classic battle between a t-rex and a triceratops. Quick-time events tend to divide players, but I enjoy them because they help keep you involved during the action scenes.
Choosing your responses to various situations is always fun and it helps players really connect with their character; however, that brings us to some of the issues with this game...
Whelp, here's a rundown of the game's problems:
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- Your choices don't matter
- Mediocre graphics
- Haphazard dialogue
- Several sound glitches
- Puzzle sections slow down the pace
When I say choices don't matter, I mean the game literally won't let you make the "wrong" choices. At first, the game pretends to offer multiple approaches to situations by letting you select from four choices when confronted with a problem. However, you'll quickly realize that only one actually advances the game, while the others simply result in characters saying "try again" until you pick the right option.
Instead of having significant impact on the plot of the game, like in Heavy Rain or Until Dawn, you're really just a spectator being tricked into thinking you're choosing what the characters do, and most players will see through that charade.
Graphically, the game isn't anything special. The dinosaurs look pretty good, but everything else could pass for a PlayStation 2 game. Several sound glitches also detract from the experience. To make things worse, I typically enjoy puzzles, but the ones here were more slow than actually challenging, and it seemed that they were designed to artificially lengthen the game more than anything else.
Finally, the protagonists just aren't as interesting as you'd hope. Some are passable, like kind-hearted Dr. Harding, but most lack depth. Heck, the first two people you encounter are thieves trying to steal dinosaur embryos—you'll almost want them to get eaten. In addition to the character disappointments, there's also a lot of spotty dialogue ("Hang on to your butts!"). The game just doesn't draw you in like a story-based game should.
This game gets just enough right that I don't want to call it a "bad" game, but don't expect it to match the thrills of seeing the first movie on the silver screen. If you love Jurassic Park and just want to revisit the original set, meet some dinosaurs, and have an adventure, there's some joy to be had here. But for every fun moment or fond memory the game instilled, there were as many dull sections to be found.
The game pretends to offer you choices, but don't be fooled. Your characters will eventually do what the game wants them to, and can only die when it says so (mess up a QTE, and you simply rewind a few seconds for another attempt).
The game had potential, and it delivered on some counts, but I wouldn't mind if the creators made a fresh attempt at improving it. Especially now that Telltale Games has clearly perfected their decision-based gaming recipe with gaming adventures like the The Walking Dead.
© 2017 Jeremy Gill