It may have taken more than a few liberties with both the source material (and, you know, scientific fact), but Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was one hell of a movie. It spawned its share of video game spin-offs as most semi-popular movies tend to do, but they were mostly derivative platformers or crappy fighting games (seriously, WTF was up with that one??). 18 years later–seriously, 18 years–we’ve finally gotten a worthwhile interactive media adaptation. Leave it to Telltale to do a franchise proud.
Jurassic Park: The Game is an episodic adventure, much like every other Telltale game released in the last several years. It follows a small group of survivors that were left behind during the events of the film, shifting between their separate stories until they inevitably meet up and do their best to get off the ill-fated Isla Nublar in as few pieces as possible. Players will chat with other characters, solve some puzzles and try not to end up in something’s digestive tract over the course of four episodes that take them all over the park. From the docks to Dennis Nedry’s final resting place and beyond. Several memorable locations from the movie are included, but the bulk of the game takes place in new ones, such as the Bone Shaker roller coaster and the Marine Center.
Telltale has completely re-purposed their engine for this game and it shows. Rather than directing a given character all over the screen, players can pan the camera around to look for clues and interactive elements. Action sequences, on the other hand, are handled by way of a series of quick-time events, with failed actions resulting in a reduced score for the end of the scene or that plus a gruesome death. It all blends together quite smoothly, making for an incredibly cinematic and entertaining experience. Seriously, I just kept moving from one episode to the next until I’d completed it. Took somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 to 10 hours if I’m not mistaken. Of course, the prolonged exposure had a couple of effects on my perception.
First, I came to really enjoy the story and the characters, despite the more-than-occasional wooden dialogue. I wanted to see what happened to them and how it all turned out. I might catch flak for saying this, especially as it seems that a number of people hate this game for some reason, but I thought the story and presentation did the franchise justice. It fit right in with the established universe. I also loved the nods to Spielberg and author Michael Crichton’s total butchering of science with his dinosaur designs in the journal entries that unlocked as I progressed. Little notes about how the Dilophosaurus didn’t have a frill and Velociraptors were never that big, that kind of thing. It made me smile.
Second, I came to realize how hit-or-miss the inputs could be at times. Sometimes it meant missing an action because it didn’t register (i.e. circular motions on the analog sticks). Sometimes it had more to do with the inconsistency of the timing, with some presses requiring much faster reaction time than others. Ultimately it wasn’t a huge deal because I wasn’t going for gold medals and the checkpoints are fairly forgiving, but it’s still annoying. It’s also pretty frustrating when I am trying to get a gold medal.
I suppose I can see how some people might not like Jurassic Park: The Game as much as I have, but I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly. The minor annoyances, like occasional control issues and the jittery framerates during the later action-heavy moments, are vastly outweighed by everything else. As I’ve mentioned before, it does the franchise justice and fits right in with the rest of the Jurassic Park universe. I think it’s fair to say that adventure game fans and of Telltale’s previous titles should definitely check this one out.