Jurassic Park: The Game Review

It’s hard to believe that the movie Jurassic Park came out almost 20 years ago. Back before maturity fully set in, Jurassic Park was hands down my favorite movie ever. I must have seen it in theaters eight times at least. This isn’t terribly surprising: I was a kid, it was a movie about dinosaurs, and it had a character named Malcolm in it! It wasn’t even a fair fight. I loved it so much that I read the book, bought the toys, and even did a skit about it at my elementary school’s talent show. All that being said, I was really surprised to hear they were making another Jurassic Park game. The shock turned joy as the screen shots of the dinosaurs looked great. So I allowed myself to get a little pumped and downloaded it. This would be my first mistake.

The story actually takes place at the same time as the movie, although you never interact with any of the characters from the film. You play as multiple characters as they try to survive Jurassic Park during the time Dennis Nedry sent the park to Hell. On paper, this idea is as sound as any for the plot, but the execution is very poor. The characters are cliché and bland.  You have characters like the powerful mercenary, the fatale trying to save a loved one, and the father protecting his misfit kid. Unfortunately, I never managed to get a strong connection with any of them. It seemed very phoned in from top to bottom, and that’s an unfortunate theme.

The Game looks more like Jurassic Park: The Cartoon, which is fine. The world and environment are average. It’s not going to win any awards or anything, but it’s average at best. I will give them credit as they managed dinosaurs, props, and the island itself well enough. However, the humans look a little cartoonish to me, and it took away from the experience.

Graphically, Jurassic Park is pretty flat. I admit, the dinosaurs are great, and look spot on. I even remember smiling when I heard the familiar whoot of the Dilophosaurus. However everything else, especially given the bad animations, looks subpar at best. It feels more like a computer game than a PS3 game.

There are a bunch of tech problems that hound Jurassic Park as well. The animations are a bit stiff, resulting in characters losing a lot of realism. Often times the animations are just a character’s lips moving and eyes blinking. The voice acting often times will fail, too, with animations resulting in characters looking like ventriloquists’ dummies. I even had the sound drop out a few times here and there. The soundtrack, with the exception of the movie’s original score, is forgettable.

The ultimate failure is the gameplay, or lack there of. The screen shots that I saw a few months ago made me think this was an action game, but I see my mistake. This is the same studio that made the Back to the Future game awhile back. However, this makes Back to the Future look like Uncharted in terms of action gameplay.

Jurassic Park should have been called Quick Time Events II: The Quickening because that’s what it is — one huge quick time event. I understand why they felt the need to leave JP:TG with basic graphics, as I was spending most of my time looking for button prompts. This has always been one of my issues with QTEs — there is always something cool going on that I miss because I’m looking for button prompts. This is the case with here too, as I end up missing dinosaur battles, suspenseful chases, and near deaths.  It ends up killing whatever suspense or excitement Telltale Games was aiming for.

Gameplay is repetition at its worst. I’m going to tell you how it plays from start to finish. You inspect an area until a little magnifying glass appears, and you press the button shown. Sometimes this starts an action event, and you press prompts to escape. You then wash, rinse, and repeat till until you’re finished.

At odd points, they’ll insert a puzzle for you to figure out as well. Don’t get too excited, since the puzzles are bad and are easy to figure out. Despite being 4 episodes long, Jurassic Park is pretty quick. You can finish an episode in its entirety in an hour and a half, so it’s roughly 6 total hours in length. You’re given a score after each level, which decreases each time you die. The only reason you’d have to go back is for a better score. Trust me though, you’re not going to care to come back after you beat it.

After playing it, I have to say it was a mistake for Telltale to take on the Jurassic Park franchise. While some effort was made, this isn’t worth the $29.99 price tag. You want to relieve the experience of Jurassic Park? Rent the movie. You’ll be a lot happier than with this.