Jurassic Park is a classic film, and when Telltale Games announced that their partnership with Universal would bring about a series made on the timeless Jurassic Park, and Back to the Future franchises, fans around jumped for joy. Knowing who Telltale Games are will ready you for what the game is going to be, do not pick up Jurassic Park: The Game expecting Dino Crisis, or Turok, in fact wipe all previous Jurassic Park games from your mind, and get ready for an enthralling and entertaining addition to the Jurassic Park films.
If there’s one game of recent that Jurassic Park is going to be compared to, it’s Heavy Rain. Jurassic Park: The Game is by all means an interactive movie, and even more so than Heavy Rain, think of it more like Dragon's Lair. There is no free exploration in the game, and instead of controlling a character, you move from screen to screen with a combination of mouse clicks and camera control with story added inbetween. This system whilst easy to pick is a little alien, as you never really control a defined character, in one episode you may 'control' up to five different people enforcing the more interactive movie feel of the game.
What makes Jurassic Park unique to other games released by Telltale, excluding the fact that the game plays more like an interactive movie than an adventure game, is that the series has been released as a full game, so no need to wait for your monthly fix! As a regular Telltale game follower, it is very strange to be able to play the whole series all in one, and the deal is sweetened with the beautiful streaming from episode to episode.
As usual, Telltale Games add their usual spice to the game with their own unique characters, Gerry and Jess Harding make up the pair of regular people caught up in the plight, you’ve then got Nima; the enigmatic foreigner alongside D-caf, Oscar and Billy Yoder the InGen mercenary squad, tasked with rescuing the survivors from Isla Nublar. To throw a bit of spice into the mix, there is also Dr Sorkin; the doctor who was stubborn enough to stay on the island despite the storm warnings, due to her dedication to her dinosaurs. You may already be forming plotlines in your head, and you probably won't be far off, the story, whilst engaging, much like an extension to a film, is not in any way the defining point of the game.
To add some variety there are several different quick time events to get your heart thumping, from simple reactionary button presses, following a reticule with your mouse, sequential button presses, and far more nerve-wracking timed sequences; brilliant at enforcing a bit of sudden tension! The quick time events feel right at home in Jurassic Park, and it adequately brings a bit of life to the usually monotonous adventure genre. Of course even the mention of Quick Time Events will turn many gamers away, it can be seen as lazy game design, but to be fair it makes a far more inviting game, and a few of the episodes were watched by an audience happily as the plot moved forwards without a hitch thanks to the pace brought forth by the QTE.
Much like Heavy Rain, the real fun of Jurassic Park comes through in taking wrong turns; you always want to know what would have happened if you hadn't of shot Nathaniel Williams or taken the Doctor's drink, well the story isn’t so flexible in Jurassic Park, however you will be able to fail at almost every point for a spot of humour thanks to the Death Toll.
The Death Toll tracks your demise as you play through episode-to-episode, and with what must be over 100 different deaths, Telltale really went to town! Whether its death by Tyrannosaurus Rex or clumsiness as you fall down a ravine, each sequence has been put together for the best effect, and at times you may find yourself just deciding not to carry out the quick time events so that you can see what happens if you don’t duck when a Triceratops’ tail comes swinging at you.
As Telltale games go, there are very few puzzles in this series, and other than a standard logic puzzle, brushing up on your Spanish, and using your powers of deduction and elimination you’ll find little else to stimulate your brain. The brunt of the game is comprised of the fast-paced Quick Time Events, so the puzzles are a nice breather between, however this does make the pace rather erratic, and puzzle fans will be a disappointed.
Each episode is made up of 12 scenarios that can drastically vary in length depending on whether it is made up of a simple QTE sequence, or a 10-20 minute exploration or a regular adventure game conversation. Throughout the 48 scenarios of the series you will come face-to-face with death, meet some very uncertain characters, and fall subject to a fair amount of double-cross and drama.
Now Jurassic Park has always been more about the dinosaurs than the people in some fans’ eyes, Telltale have responded to this with a collection of classic dinosaurs that you will have encountered previously in the film series; with herbivores like the Triceratops and Parasaurolophus, of course a park full of plant eating dinosaurs would not be very interesting to gamers, so they’ve also thrown in the classic Dilophosaurus, Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus Rex alongside a few lesser known creatures. However the surprise that Telltale have been keeping up their sleeve is the inclusion of two new dinosaurs never before seen in a Jurassic Park film; the aquatic Mosasaur, and the deadly Troodon.
Of course the fans love dinosaurs, but none so much as the Tyrannosaurs Rex, and to account for this; there is a T-Rex in every episode, just so you remember that you are in Jurassic Park! To be fair, there isn’t a cooler dinosaur than the T-Rex, but its repeated appearance did seem a little condescending, and it is a shame that there is not a larger variety of dinos present. However there is nothing like the roar of a T-Rex to get your fingers onto your keyboard at the ready!
The character models are a far cry from any Telltale game you may have played; gone are the incredibly cartoony features and they have been replaced with models that are more human, more realistic, and extremely emotive, making Jurassic Park one of the most visually impressive Telltale Games to date. Hopefully, we'll be seeing the same style in their upcoming Walking Dead series.
A rather strange addition to the game is the medal system; with each completed scenario you are awarded a gold, silver or bronze medal depending on your ability and success, a gold medal being the mark of a scenario completed with no mistakes. Whilst the medals make a good purpose for achievements and trophies, it doesn’t lend itself to the interactive movie style of the game, and seems a little out of place.
Jurassic Park: The Game is a fantastic addition to the Jurassic Park franchise, although some may have wanted an adventure game, the interactive movie style suits the fast pace of the game brilliantly, it’s just a shame that we did not see more of the park.
Jurassic Park: The Game is available now for just $29.99, that’s about £19 for the full 4 episode season that you can download in full; you can get your hands on the game via the Telltale Website, Steam, and the PSN. Unfortunately we Europeans will not have access to the game on the Xbox Live Arcade Marketplace just yet, and we’ll have to wait til next year.