One of the most iconic scenes in a movie in a recent history is the T-Rex scene in Jurassic Park. The electricity is out, it’s raining and you begin to wonder what is going to happen next. Then, there’s a subtle thump off in the distance, and the two children notice the cup of water is shaking slightly. After a moment of tense build-up, the T-Rex bursts onto the scene with a might roar. That scene was definitely extremely well done and set the tone for the rest of the movie. Unfortunately, Telltale Games newest release based on the movie does not do a great job of capturing that suspense, and ultimately the experience falls a little flat due to poor controls, strange pacing, and overall presentation issues.
Telltale Games are known for their episodic series of adventure games like Sam and Max, Tales of Monkey Island, and Back to the Future, but they take a different turn with this game. Concentrating more on a contextual interface similar to Heavy Rain with loads of quick time events, Jurassic Park The Game tries to be a little more action-oriented instead of story driven. While this sounds like a good idea for building suspense, the actual implementation feels a little off. During some events you are barely given any time to notice which button you need to push, let alone if you need to tap or hold down the key in question. So, you will spend most of your time just memorizing patterns during sequences than actually reacting to the prompts you are given. Which can be considered par for the course when playing these types of games, but as a player you can’t help but feel as if the way the game is presented is more of a cause for mistakes than not being able to react fast enough.
The overall presentation does not do much to help the game’s case either. The graphics of the Player models seem to float on surfaces while walking and generally seem almost robotic in their motions. This is especially jarring when the game is attempting to create suspense with a character’s deliberate turn towards a camera or looking over their shoulder. A typical scene that should be creating tension and suspense now unfolds awkwardly in an almost comedic parody. And finally, there is a remarkable lack of actual sound effects aside from the music and dialogue. Sure, there are the occasional action sounds, but overall the sound is surprisingly absent and gives the game an almost unfinished quality.
If there is one thing that is the saving grace of this game it is that the story is an interesting take on events happening on the island aside from the adventures of Dr. Alan Grant and his group. The oft-forgotten question about the fate of the Barbasol can full of dino DNA is answered here, and actually does make for an engaging premise to the game. And when everything in the game comes together, this can be a very rewarding and exciting experience. It is unfortunate that there are so many technical issues that muddy the experience.
Overall, this four episode romp through Isla Nublar is more a test of patience than actual enjoyment and nostalgia. Frequent technical issues, an unwielding interface, and an overall lack of polish make what could be a great look back into a frustrating and lackluster performance. While longtime fans of the movie may be able to look past these issues to find an interesting story, it is hard to recommend this game to anyone aside from the most devout followers of the series. Even at thirty dollars, there are plenty of other games to invest your time and money into this holiday season, and Jurassic Park is not one of them.
A copy of Jurassic Park for the PC was provided to us for this review from Telltale Games.