Jurassic Park: The Game review

  • Unique gameplay
  • Fan service
  • Being eaten by dinosaurs
  • When the game freezes
  • On-rails design
  • Horrible sound mixing

Above: The king of the dinosaurs shows up a lot, and he's always hungry

Jurassic Park: The Game is unlike anything we’ve ever played before. Calling it “Heavy Rain with dinosaurs” is a disservice to both it and Heavy Rain – despite relying on quick time events, it’s actually pretty far from Heavy Rain. A closer approximation would be “Heavy Rain and Dragon’s Lair with dinosaurs,” but even that is oversimplifying things. Instead, imagine this: you’re the director of a Jurassic Park film, and you’re in control of all of the actors and actresses. They’ll move when you tell them to and say what you want them to, but it’s never going to go too far off the script, and you’re never in complete control. You’re just directing whoever needs to be directed for that scene to move forward, even if it means jumping between three to four different characters at any given time.

Oh, and the dinosaurs? They’re also a part of the movie, but they’re not going to follow your orders, so you need to get your actors to act around them, or else, they’ll be eaten, crushed, dismembered, or disposed of in other brutal ways. Failure means you blew the scene – cut! Set it up again, start over. Everyone back in your places. Action.

Above: Raptors are still clever, and still technically girls

Jurassic Park’s events run parallel to those of the first film, starting soon after Dennis Nedry’s unfortunate run-in with the dilophosaurus. While he’s out of the picture before the game begins, his can of Barbasol, loaded with dinosaur embryos, plays a major role in the game. The people he was driving to in order to drop off the can? They’re playable characters, coming to look for their MIA baby dinosaurs, as are the InGen mercenaries sent to escort survivors off the island, the staff nutritionist, and his 14-year old daughter. The characters are generally likable and the story – while far from stellar – is still enjoyable, especially for fans of the film. Some of the loose ends from the first movie are tied up and Telltale did a good job at making it feel like an extension of the film.

The unique gameplay actually makes sense considering the source material. When danger isn’t immediate the pace is slowed, and we’re allowed to explore our (pre-determined) environments to solve some puzzles and talk to the different characters. It’s extremely limited, but it never feels too constrained – we shouldn’t be wandering too far away from the scene until the game wants us to, since there might be dinosaurs lurking about. When lizards do show up, the gameplay changes to a series of quick-time events for the getaway. Mistakes can either lower your score or end with your character dangling out of the mouth of a T-Rex depending on the specific instance.

Above: Check out the action you can expect from the game

Success means you’re treated to a thrilling, cinematic cutscene that you were responsible for. Failure means being treated to a satisfying death animation. It’s really win-win. While you’re not technically pressing forward to run or pressing X to swing a weapon whenever you want, it still feels like you’re taking part in the situations, which is all that really matters. It’s never all that amazing, but for Jurassic Park fans it’s about as good as we could have hoped for. It’s just a shame that the game can’t hold itself together well enough to maintain the illusion for long.

The cinematic façade is torn asunder whenever the game’s engine bends and breaks. Characters’ mouths fell out of sync with the dialog often, and in a few cases the mouths simply stopped moving altogether. The entire game locked up a few times, too, requiring us to reload at the most recent checkpoint. These instances were isolated when compared to audio mixing issues and pops, which constantly (and we mean constantly) took us out of the experience. These problems wouldn’t typically damage our enjoyment that much, but when the gameplay amounts to an interactive movie every presentation folly cuts infinitely deeper.

Above: Occasional puzzles break up the action-packed escape segments

If everything would have worked as well as it could have, Jurassic Park: The Game would have been a successful experiment into creating a new type of cinematic game. It’s not trying to be Uncharted, because Jurassic Park shouldn’t be Uncharted. It’s also not trying to be Heavy Rain, or anything else. It’s trying to be Jurassic Park, and we’re happy to see it try. We just wish it would have made sure all of its bits and bytes were in order before it showed up at our door, because it’s hard to see the forest through these glitchy, buggy trees.

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, PS3
Published by: Telltale Games
Developed by: Telltale Games

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  • Druupwnz - November 22, 2011 2:53 p.m.

    I feel like this could've been done really well as a first-person view puzzle game, like Mirror's Edge but without all the parkour. That may have allowed for an interactive experience with really tense escape scenes AND a nice way to get to exploring and solving puzzles. Regardless, maybe I'll look into this when it gets patched.
  • TricksterJ - November 22, 2011 9:53 a.m.

    Do wanna check this out
  • Mezolitik - November 22, 2011 8:50 a.m.

    Hmm, I might give this one a miss. I'm still exhausted from the QTE Krauser fight in Resident Evil 4. That was great though. Dinosaurs seem to be a rare commodity in video games, so it's nice to see T-Rex out for a wander. A sandbox JP would be excellent - and pretty much the opposite of this game.
  • mothbanquet - November 22, 2011 7:59 a.m.

    Skyrim has shown us that large, beautiful, believable worlds are possible, and that huge lizards can be rendered (and subsequently killed) in a wonderfully realistic way. That is what Jurassic Park needs - and deserves.
  • Shinn - November 22, 2011 2:36 a.m.

    Not a bad score for such an inexpensive game.
  • HamsterGutz - November 21, 2011 11:42 p.m.

    A 6? Not quite the tens that the devs gave it on metacritic :P
  • onetimebuster - November 21, 2011 11:10 p.m.

    That raptors head looks way to big.
  • KidKatana - November 22, 2011 1:25 a.m.

    Ha that was the first thing I thought! I know it's a perspective shot but the proportions still look off, it looks like it's been Photoshopped in rather than rendered in a game engine...
  • RedOutlive10 - November 21, 2011 9:14 p.m.

    QTEs are an aberration in gaming. Who had the idea to make you watch things happening by a timed button press? It goes against the interactive nature of the media, just feels artificial. Point and click games suffer of this lack of freedom already, making a game based on QTEs is just a step backward.
  • FemJesse - November 22, 2011 1:10 p.m.

    As much as I dislike QTE's I cannot stand idly by when someone shits on Don Bluth and Dragon's Lair. Even though it was technically a 20 something minute cartoon, the game was more than innovative for it's time. QTE is the very origin of modern interactive media. It boils it down to the most raw simplicity. I press the button X happens. Real-time, though more common, is the obscurity... Appreciative gamers will understand the role Dragon's Lair had in not only inventingn Quick Time Events, but also broadening what quality of graphics should be expected and what is to be considered a game.
  • Travia220 - November 21, 2011 8:38 p.m.

    Jurassic Parks problem is it tried to do with Heavy rain did. Made a game that's just all QTE's with no sustenance. Heavy Rain sucked for an Adventure game and so does Jurassic Park. Just go back to the old formula of point, click, discover and solving puzzles. Not mashing buttons as quick as possible, put an indepth story. Both Heavy Rain and this game fail miserably because their stories were mediocre and just one big QTE. Although I'm sure GamesRadar gave Heavy Rain an amazing review.
  • phoenix_wings - November 22, 2011 12:21 p.m.

    You really don't like Heavy Rain, do you? Jurassic Park and Heavy Rain are not similar titles. At least in Heavy Rain you can control where your character walks and actually get them from point A to point B. Substance...not sustenance.
  • HaVoK308 - November 21, 2011 8:33 p.m.

    Telltale should learn to make an actual "Game".
  • DualWieldingIsNotFeasible - November 21, 2011 7:49 p.m.

    I'd love to see a more exploration-heavy game based on JP. Or, hell, just set on a random island full of dinosaurs. Something along the lines of the King Kong game that was a launch title for the 360. Maybe I'll give this a try if they get a patch out, but there are way too many games vying for my time right now to make room for something this buggy.
  • GAYMER - November 21, 2011 7:21 p.m.

    Hold on to your butts.
  • NotBraze - November 21, 2011 6:55 p.m.

    Does Telltale have plans to patch this? I was really curious to check this out, but I'm not going to bother if it's really as buggy as you say.
  • Moondoggie1157 - November 21, 2011 6:39 p.m.

    Well, I wasn't expecting a great score, but from what I have seen and heard, a 6 seems reasonable. I would like to see a Jurassic Park sandbox game though, a decent one.
  • codystovall - November 21, 2011 6:35 p.m.

    Mr. DNA will be disappointed.

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