If you’ve ever wanted to see a T-rex duke it out with a triceratops while you quick time event to avoid tails, teeth, horns and claws, then look no further than Jurassic Park the Game! This is an interactive experience where you solve puzzles, talk to characters and participate in the Olympics of quick time events. There are a few things you should know walking into Jurassic Park the Game and the first is this is a story experience without any of the characters from the movies. The game manages to include the music, logos and dinosaur roars that all go a long way to making it feel like a true movie tie in.
The major sticking point on recommending the game is its flurry of quick time events. Circle right stick, push up on the left stick, button mash A, press X at the correct time and so on. The quick time events are the game of the game and where the challenge lies. Failing too many or in some cases one results in a death scene. These scenes are all quick and put you right back in the action from your last frequent auto save at the cost of a gold, silver or bronze medal depending how long it takes you.
The story takes place directly after the first movie. The island has been evacuated except for a few stragglers. The two in particular the story is wrapped around are Gerry the Jurassic Park vet, his teenage, shop lifting daughter Jess. Jurassic Park the Game is more about character motivation. What drives the characters and what lengths are they going to go to get there. Dr. Lauren’s motivation is dinosaurs. Nima’s motivation is getting dinosaur embryos off the island smuggled in a Barbasol can. Mercenaries are sent in and something goes wrong leaving two survivors, Billy and Oscar who are motivated to get the people off the island.
All the characters are “good people,” they’re just motivated different. Over six hours you get to see drives change in a dangerous setting, some even exchange motivations. People find out secrets, drama ensues and escalates as any movie or game should. Characters will turn on one another.
The real stars of any Jurassic Park are the dinosaurs and the few dinosaurs from the movies are back. You’ll find a giant tyrannosaurus rex, pack hunting raptors, pterodactyls that can take out a helicopter, venom spitting dilophosaurus and even an angered triceratops. The dinosaurs all look like they did in the movies, which is a plus. Each one is deadly and will murder your characters when you fail. There is a real sense of dread here, knowing that you need to act fast and follow whatever random prompts you need to in order to survive. I think it does a better job of dread than most horror games.
Everything is scripted and the game is better for it. Rather than dodging one way or another, the scene will have a character leap box from box, tumble into a cage, get lifted up by a tyrannosaurus head who will then drop it, you’ll tumble out and get forced to climb a fence while the rex charges behind you. When you get out of danger, you’ll get into danger. Riding a roller coaster at gunpoint turns into a dinosaur fight against a pride of Herrerasaurus and a different struggle as the track breaks. Its exhilarating to play even if you have no real control.
Oh but there are a few new dinosaurs in the mix to liven things up over the course of the game’s six hours. Troodons lurk in the sewers and while they’re explained as a venomous biting dinosaur, they might as well be a small raptor. I suppose its in there for a shocking moment when they find what they made a nest out of. For your pool swimming pleasure there’s a giant Tylosaurus that is described as a crocodile head with an eel’s body.
The game is broken into four episodes and between running for you life, there are a few puzzles in each episode. These puzzles are little diversions that will give your brain a workout. For the most part there is no punishment or danger for failing them. Some such as getting a needle to a wounded Lima while evading a tyrannosaurus have dire consequences if you take too long. Others like failing to get the correct information when reading a schematic can lead to failure as well. There is nothing too complex, but it may take a few tries to get it right.
To keep things fresh and interesting, you get to see more of the island than the visitor’s center and Nedry’s crashed jeep. There is an underwater dome, a lighthouse, an amusement park and perhaps the most uninteresting of all… tunnels. The entire third episode is in tunnels being hunted.
During the game’s downtime you can have characters interact with one another. Nima can convince Billy to do something in various ways. Its nothing that will deviate the story in one direction or another, but its a way to get achievements. Most of the time conversations are like puzzles. What will lead you to the next part of the game? Other times you need to move to different areas and interact with people as you examine things.
When I say scenes, you have such little control over your character, you bring up a scene menu rather than exploring an entire area. Each scene is a static area that you can examine various things, but you never walk around, your character just does it. It feels like a streamlined point-and-click adventure. No time is wasted, but you still pan the screen around looking for things to examine. You will never need a book of matches from episode 1 all the way in episode 4. Nothing is cryptic and everything makes sense puzzle wise.
As for frills to keep you in game, there are more than a dozen journal entries, achievements and gold trophies to get from quick time events. Outside of that, the real frill to keep you here is seeing just how many ways a dinosaur can eat a person when you fail. Someone had to animate these and there are so many for different circumstances. Failing here, failing one step further there, its all different, but its nothing to keep you here. At least deaths are entertaining in a horrific sort of way. You can replay any scene including the final choice of one thing over another.
Let’s go to the fun part of the game though and that’s pointing out questionable choices made by characters. Dr. Lauren refuses to leave without her research so you, part of an elite mercenary squad must move boxes for her. Jess goes off alone to have a cigarette in a tunnel where raptors are lurking. Have raptors but no guns? No problem. I have a knife. Its a big knife. I’m still uncertain why the only working phone would be in an underwater bubble. How would a veterinarian be unaware there was a Tylosaurus on the island? Its like hiding a train in a body of water that had to be man made. Why is there no controller support in the menu?
Its a toss up to recommend Jurassic Park the Game. I like it, even with the quick time fest that it is. Watching the action was thrilling as any other game that I’ve played. The story is good and something even Michael Crichton could agree with as you stick a bunch of strangers in an isolated environment and watch the drama unfold.