Also available on: PS3, Xbox 360, iPad
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Considering there hasn't been a notable addition to the Jurassic Park series in any medium for at least a decade, it's hard to believe it maintains an incredibly vast fanbase. Its dedicated followers have waited an eternity for a fourth entry in the dinosaur film franchise, and although there are no signs of it emerging from development hell just yet, they now have the next best thing.
Jurassic Park: The Game is the latest adventure offering from Telltale Games. The studio has already proven it's more than capable of handling a film licence with the faithful Back to the Future: The Game, and its pedigree in the genre cannot be questioned. On paper it's a dream match, and while the source material is handled with the utmost respect, trivial gameplay limits its appeal to all but the diehards.
Like most titles in Telltale's catalogue, Jurassic Park: The Game is a story-driven experience. In many ways, it has more in common with watching a movie than it does playing a video game.
The plot takes place around the events of the first movie, and finally ties up that loose end involving Dennis Nedry's shaving canister. Our protagonists are a female mercenary named Nima Cruz, sent to Isla Nublar to retrieve those lost embryos, and dinosaur doctor Gerry Harding, who battles to get his daughter to safety when things go awry.
The focal point switches between both leads during the early stages, but you'll play as multiple characters throughout the game, and the transitions are often abrupt. Familiar faces from the movie make cameo appearances, and then of course there are the dinosaurs.
While the storyline is an intriguing fan-pleaser, the characters aren't particularly memorable. Cruz bears all the stereotypes of your fiery Latino, while Harding comes across as a stock good guy. Jurassic Park's colourful cast of eccentrics is part of what made the film a classic, and the game could certainly have benefited from some of its dynamic.
Anyone expecting another traditional adventure from Telltale may be in for a shock. Gameplay is divided into puzzle-solving segments and quick-time set pieces. The latter gives the game the feel of a modern take on the Dragon's Lair formula. You're required to hit the appropriate button when prompted within a strict time limit or a short clip showing your untimely death will be triggered.
Frustratingly, the responsiveness isn't all it could have been, so the best strategy is to sacrifice yourself a couple of times to memorise which prompts are coming up. The player isn't punished in a particularly harsh way. Dying simply means replaying the segment over again, and being assigned a bronze or silver medal, rather than gold.
Back to the Future: The Game suffered from trivial puzzles, and Jurassic Park has much the same problem. The majority of your time tackling these sections involves scanning the area until a point of interest is earmarked for you to click on. This is often enough to progress the story, though some conundrums have multiple-choice dialogue solutions, and others are logic-based.
In a significant departure from traditional adventure fare, there is no inventory. Presumably the developers' intention was to replace item-based problems with action-driven gameplay, but we can't help but feel that the inclusion of an inventory may have given the game that extra challenge it sorely needs.
The biggest problem with Jurassic Park: The Game is that it doesn't feel interactive enough. In both puzzle and action segments the player's role is to respond to prompts that trigger the next cutscene. It seems that Telltale's intention was to create something with the feel of a movie, and there are no doubt sections of the fanbase that will applaud this cinematic approach.
At the very least, it's a faithful take on its source material. The story it weaves around the events of the film serves to enrich the franchise and deliver a satisfactory payoff with the unresolved plot threads.
Jurassic Park: The Game certainly sounds the part, with the inclusion of John Williams's unforgettable score and authentic dinosaur sound effects, and it looks the part in some respects.
The dinos themselves are well rendered, although it seems that most of the budget was invested in creating them, because the game is otherwise unspectacular. The animation can be ropey, and the environments bare. Voice acting is competent, but does nothing to elevate the characters beyond stereotypical and forgettable.
In summary, Jurassic Park: The Game has its selling points if you're a fan of the series. The storyline fits into the bigger picture nicely and Telltale has handled the licence well. Unfortunately, its simplistic puzzles and action segments mean that it's unlikely to find favour among the adventure demographic.
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