Review by Robbie Kennedy
"A movie quality game, that is well worth sticking with."
At the outset of this review, I wish to alert readers to the type of game this is. The game primarily consists of Quick Time Events (henceforth referred to as QTE's). For those who don't know, those are what happens in a cutscene if a button comes up on the screen asking you to press it. The classic example is the boulder scene in Resident Evil 4. If you do not like QTE's, then this game may not be for you. I also wish to mention that there will be one or two spoilers for the 1993 Jurassic Park film, but these spoilers were given in the trailers for this game, and indeed form the basis of the major plot of the game. If you do not wish to have the film spoiled, please click the back button now.
With that small disclaimer out of the way, let the review begin. Jurassic Park: The Game, released in November of 2011, by Telltale Games, is for want of a better term, an interactive movie. This game echoes many of TTG's previous releases, in that it is an episodic game and it consists of four episodes. The core gameplay is the same across each of the episodes and they follow on from each other and as such the game will be reviewed as a whole rather than episodically. There will be four main areas reviewed, and these are Story, Gameplay, Graphics and Sound.
Jurassic Park: The Game is a continuation of the 1993 Spielberg hit. I myself was very interested in the game, since I grew up with the film series, and still enjoy the original film to this very day. The basic premise of the game seeks to tie up one of the loose ends of the film What happened to the Barbasol Can of Dinosaur Embryo's that Neddrie had? Right at the outset of the game, you see the can, in the hands of a mysterious female called Nima. We are also introduced to the characters of Dr. Gerry Harding (Jurassic Park's chief veterinarian, seen in the film, but the developers chose to use a younger model for him in the game) and his estranged fourteen year old daughter, Jess. As the game continues, we meet some other characters, including Dr. Laura Sorkin, Billy Yoder, and Oscar. These characters are all on the island, and have to evacuate, but if it were that simple, the game wouldn't last very long.
The game has a relatively small cast of human characters, but the story is very captivating, and whilst playing, you don't want to put the game down. As you would expect from a Jurassic Park title, there are plenty of dinosaurs in this game that feature in the story, including a few new species. There are also plenty of nods to both the film, and the novel, throughout the game. The story in this game can be what you make of it to put it simply. You can rush through and that is perfectly fine, you will understand the premise of the game, or you can take the time to ask different questions in the game, explore different areas and thus you will get a fuller understanding. In terms of endings, there are two endings a Bad Ending and a Good Ending, and there is a point where you lock the choice though that is obvious enough. Overall, the story is very enjoyable, and there are more twists and turns in it than The Bone Shaker Rollercoaster at Jurassic Park, and you may find yourself getting emotionally attached to many of the characters.
There are four chapters to this game, as mentioned above. Within each of these though are sequences, and the sequences may be thought of as paragraphs within the book. The game saves at certain points throughout sequence, so you should never lose any progress. Each of the chapters is thrilling, with plenty happening in each sequence to keep it going. Each chapter last roughly an hour and a half, making the game just over 6 hours in length. Whilst that may seem short by today's standards, the game is like an interactive film, and the content more than makes up for it, making every minute enjoyable.
In short, the story is thrilling and keeps you going, and so it is awarded 10/10.
As mentioned in the disclaimer, the core gameplay element is QTE's. These are somewhat intuitive. For my playthrough, I used a 360 controller, as the developers had stated that the game was designed with a gamepad in mind. The QTE's can be rapid at times, and slow at others. For example, if the story called for you to creep, you would, on the 360 controller, press B when a circle lands on the B on the Screen, then an X when a circle lands on the X on screen. Similarly, you may have to rapidly hammer a button, or perhaps hold it down. If you fail, there are plenty of death scenes in this game. Not all failure leads to a death though. One of the features that adds replayability is the medal system. At the start of each sequence, you have a Gold T-Rex Medal. If you fail any of the sequences, that medal slowly gets downgraded, and so replayability is encouraged (via the Steam Ranking System) to get Gold on each sequence.
The other gameplay element is investigation mode. In this mode, to use a film term, you examine sets. So for example, you can examine the area around Neddrie's crashed car, as you attempt to find the Barbasol Can. You may have to interact with certain things on each set in order to progress in that example, work out how to get the lights on in the car so that you can investigate a larger area. This is a very satisfying mode, as you get to explore some of the major locations from the film, including The Visitor Centre post T-Rex attack.
Finally, the two modes are mixed together at a few points, calling upon you to be doing the QTE whilst looking around.
In short, the gameplay is fun and entertaining. However, one of the problems I had with the Gamepad was that if the battery pack on my controller was knocked, the controller would cut out, and the game would not pause automatically as it does with many other games. As such, I died on several occasions due to the batteries cutting out. With that in mind, the gameplay gets a slightly lower score than it would had there been a system in place to prevent this. An 8/10 is still very respectable for gameplay.
The graphics in this game are simply astounding. Each character is beautifully animated, and look very realistic. The sets are also very stunning, and the models for the dinosaurs are patterned after the movies. Indeed, many of the dinosaurs look just like they did in the movie. The death sequences also deserve a mention, as there are plenty of sequences. One of these was seen in the trailer, and it was of Gerry getting impaled by a Stegosaurus that was headbutting a T-Rex. The sequences are animated beautifully. The story sequences and animation are also pretty, but are let down somewhat by some sync problems between the voices and the mouths. The Graphics are awarded a 9/10.
There are different types of sound in this game. Each shall be looked at in a paragraph.
The voices in this game are, overall, very good. Telltale Expense got a range of real actors (and some voice actors) to do the voices in the game, and it shows. It sounds just like a Hollywood Film, and that is to the games benefit, as there is a lot of dialogue in the game. The only problem however with the voices is that sometimes, there can be distortion with the voices, and this should have been picked up on.
The ambient sounds are fascinating, as you can hear dinosaur's moving about in the distance at several points, and waves going about in the far distance.
The sound effects are also worthy of mention. Dinosaur sounds can be classed as SFX, and the T-Rex roar was taken straight from the movie but improved for the game. In a similar manner, many of the dinosaur sounds were taken from the movie, to make you feel like you were going right through a movie.
The sound in this game is very impressive and merits an 8/10, as it is good but has some shortfalls.
The game is a very impressive one, especially if you are a fan of the Jurassic Park series. The game continues on from the first movie, and has several parts connected to the movie throughout. The graphics and sound are for the most part movie quality and this helps you immerse yourself. The gameplay is good if you don't mind QTE's, as the story is of such a good quality, they are worth bearing.
Graphics - 9/10
Overall 35/40, or 8/10 (roughly).
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/13/12
Game Release: Jurassic Park: The Game (US, 11/15/11)
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