|*Jurassic Park Theme intensifies*
|15 Nov 2011
Diving Back into the Pile of Shame
It's been a long time since I've bought a Telltale game. It probably doesn't help that the company went bankrupt in late 2018 and they haven't really released much since (I'm still waiting on The Wolf Among Us 2 as you know, which featured on our Most Anticipated PC Games list of 2024). Back during their heyday I managed to nab myself the Humble Telltale Bundle 2017 and I've since reviewed many games included in the bundle including Telltale: Texas Hold'em, Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series, Batman - The Telltale Series and Minecraft: Story Mode. What was also included as part of this bundle was Jurassic Park: The Video Game which languished on my Pile of Shame over the next 5-6 years before I finally decided to give it a go, mainly because I was looking for poorly rated games on Metacritic to play (it currently holds a Metascore of 54 in case you're curious). Maybe that's one reason the game is unlisted on Steam?
|No dinosaurs allowed
Follows Right After the Movie
So, what is Jurassic Park: The Game actually about? Well, like the many Telltale adventures that followed their breakthrough game, The Walking Dead, the game eschews the complex puzzle solving of point 'n' click adventures of yesteryear to focus more on action, in-game cinematics and the narrative. The events of this game follow shortly after the original 1993 movie, and you'll take over characters with different agendas but once they realise the island is swarming with dinosaurs on the loose, they are all intent on escaping! Along the way you'll discover familiar locations and characters from the movie (although Dr. Harding was made to look a bit younger for the purposes of this game).
Overall, the plot and characterisation are pretty good in this game. You can generally understand the motivations of each of the main characters as well as their foibles. This is important since you do in fact take turns in playing each of them so if the conversation choices you make don't seem plausible at all, it's going to break the immersion.
There's also a journal that is filled out as you progress through the game and what I like about it is that it tries to explain some of the less believable aspects of the movie such as the way dilophosauruses were portrayed and the fact that raptors are actually the size of turkeys in real life.
|You'll come across many throwbacks to the original movie
Coz I'm Q.T.E., Ruin Your Night
As mentioned earlier, compared to point 'n' click adventures of yesteryear, Jurassic Park: The Game has very limited interaction and involves dragging items, investigating items and talking to characters. While there are occasional moments where you feel like you're solving puzzles in an old adventure game, such as solving the software developer's favourite, the Towers of Hanoi, Telltale eventually made away with these as they continued to pump out more adventures. Oh, and when it comes to conversations, it's interesting how it allows you to choose who to lead conversations meaning more replay value and potentially different consequences depending on who does the talking.
The game really goes overboard with the Quick-Time Events (QTE) though. They're also quite frustrating since in this game there are different tiers of difficulty when it comes to passing the QTE sections. If you fail too many times at a particular tier you get pushed down to an easier tier. While that's not so bad in itself, each tier seems to require different keystrokes meaning as soon as you've practiced enough to overcome a particular combination, you'll be given a new combination to memorise once you get pushed down a tier. There also appears to be more situations where you'll encounter "critical" QTEs, ones where you simply can't fail or else the game ends.
It's interesting playing this game after playing The Walking Dead since I can definitely spot the parallels. Jurassic Park: The Game feels like a proof-of-concept or a prototype for what would eventually become The Walking Dead. Both games are narrative rich survival horror games with a bunch of QTEs, but instead of attempting to escape zombies, you're trying to escape dinosaurs in this game. Out of the two, The Walking Dead is the more refined product which is probably why it won so many Game of the Year Awards in 2012.
|The Towers of Hanoi puzzle comes in many guises
Early Telltale adventures were hit and miss with the graphics and while Jurassic Park: The Game looks much better than their previous offerings, it doesn't look as good as The Walking Dead and the games that followed (mind you, they could cheat with those ones as they employed cel shading to give it a comic book look). The game is over 10 years old though, so you can forgive the 2011 graphics for looking slightly dated howwever I also experienced frequent framerate drops which wasn't expected in a game this old but not entirely surprising considering the Telltale Tool was infamous for this. There were many times I observed animation gaffes as well such as characters disappearing from a spot and appearing at an earlier location if you picked another conversation option again.
Graphics and animation weren't the only issues I experienced, there were problems with the audio too: sound effects would often pop in and out and lips would not sync with the voice samples. The only redeeming thing I can say about the audio is the soundtrack by Jared-Emerson Johnson which sounds exactly like it belongs in a "Jurassic Park" game or movie. It probably doesn't hurt that the original theme gets some airplay too.
|You can actually choose which character should talk instead of being limited to just one
Jurassic Park: The Game was made shortly before The Walking Dead was released and, for better or worse, there are a lot of similarities between these two titles which are both narrative rich, survival horror adventure games. However, Jurassic Park is rougher around the edges, and still contains many bugs as well as graphical and audio issues. What is most annoying about the game is its overabundance of QTEs, which I'm glad became scarcer in the Telltale adventures that followed.
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