Review: Jurassic Park – The Game
Life will find a way. Whether you are referring to the constant biological urge all living things on the planet share to not only survive but to produce the next generation or the constant desire to milk a popular franchise for all it is worth, this statement rings true. Jurassic Park is one of those franchises, even today there is still talk of a fourth film in the series, despite the second and especially third being largely panned by critics and many audience members alike. As such, when Telltale announced that they would be bringing Jurassic Park back, both in general and to video games, there was certainly plenty of questions to go around, the most pressing of course being whether or not most gamers would endorse it.
The result is a rather interesting and mixed experience. In typical Telltale fashion, Jurassic Park – The Game is an episodic adventure that is primarily made up of quick-time events. One part game, one part movie, Jurassic Park – The Game is hard to really pin down, and as a result at times produces a dichotomy of merits and flaws at the exact same time. Much like the fictional park, it often seems like Telltale was so busy seeing if they could make a Jurassic Park game, they didn’t stop to ask if they should.
In fairness, that may be a bit harsh, and mostly an opportunity to sneak in another one-liner from the original film. There certainly is truth to the split nature of the game though. As a sequel to the original film, Jurassic Park – The Game blows away either of the actual cinematic sequels. Focusing on a cast of characters on the original island and taking place (in part) during the same time frame as the original film, the main story arc revolves around Nedry’s lost canister of dinosaur embryos and several other employees left behind during the storm. Without giving too much away, the story and cast of characters really manages to capture the spirit of the original film. Like the original film there is a kid who manages to prove themselves more than capable, an average Joe turned hero, someone who lets greed get in the way and of course a T-Rex that manages to be a sort of anti-hero who turns up at all the right (or wrong) times. The first episode kind of drags on, but after that the story moves along quickly with all the characters finally coming together; all of which is carried along by a solid voice cast. In many ways this is the sequel the original film deserved but never received.
Most of the main dinosaurs make an appearance, from Dilophosaurus to T-Rex, with appearances by a couple new dinosaurs (or ones we simply didn’t see in the original film). We also get to see some classic locations (such as the Visitor Center immediately after the epic battle between the T-Rex and a couple Velociraptors), as well as some new locations in the park like the marine exhibit. Ultimately, Jurassic Park – The Game features far more of the park than the original film, and manages to make it all feel like part of the same experience. For the most part the dinosaurs all look like their film counterparts, even if overall visually the game is a little lack-luster. You won’t be wowed by the game’s graphics (as is often the case with Telltale’s games), but they shouldn’t annoy you either. The fantastic creature sounds of the original film are used as well, helping to complete the experience.
As for the game itself; for those with a bad short-term memory the game is almost entirely a series of quick-time events. Press “A” when the screen says to, or be violently eaten alive. Pretty simple, and at times it can be somewhat difficult to score a 100%, of course that really doesn’t matter though (except for a fair share of achievements). This is where the game becomes difficult to measure. Attempting to maintain a cinematic experience, there isn’t much to the game. While there are a few “puzzles” thought the game, most of them simply involve doing something in the right rotation or finding the right object to interact with. Outside of trying to get 100% on each level, there isn’t much of a challenge to the game and gamers will primarily find themselves just watching a Jurassic Park movie that they have to interact with at times. Some of the same aspects that make the movie side of the game great (the character driven story line) also leads to plenty of times where for several minutes the only interaction you really have is deciding what line of dialogue to say next. The excitement is overwhelming.
Quite frankly the game side of Jurassic Park – The Game is more often than not boring. This is the cost of providing a better cinematic experience. Opposite that, some of the moments that offer a more enjoyable (or at least interesting) gaming experience are also the moments that feel the most at odds with the story/cinematic side. Hence why this game is sort of split in two. The balance between both sides of the coin is rarely struck, and often one suffers for the sake of the other. This is why it is so difficult to sum up Jurassic Park – The Game.
On one hand you have the best Jurassic Park cinematic experience since the first film. A really enjoyable story through a familiar universe that offers something completely new yet really manages to capture the spirit of the first film. On the other hand, this great cinematic experience is buried within a three-hour quick time event that wears thin very quickly. You’ll find yourself wanting to finish Jurassic Park – The Game (and probably even taking a moment to see the alternate ending), but it won’t be on account of the fun you are having playing the game but rather the enjoyment had from the story. For fans of the original film, Jurassic Park – The Game is a “must have” experience, but it in no way warrants the $40 price tag the game launched with. It is better to think of this as a movie as opposed to a game, and pay (or rent) accordingly.
Final Rating: 6.5/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Time to completion: 790/1000
Price Bought at: $15
Current Price: $39.99 (Amazon)
Recommend Purchase Price: $15 or less.
Why you should buy it: Best Jurassic Park movie since the first and you liked the first.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: Quick-time events fill you with murderous rage.