Review: Jurassic Park: The Game

[Reviewer's Note: As this game's strong suit is its story, I may talk about the plot in a general sense, but I tried to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. I normally try to do this for most of my reviews, but as I really enjoyed discovering the story on my own, I didn't want to ruin that experience for you, the reader. Enjoy!]

Telltale Games has started an interesting trend. Remember Back to the Future: The Game? It brought the classic gameplay from their point-and-click adventure games to a franchise everyone knows about. Recently, Telltale touched another franchise from my childhood and created Jurassic Park: The Game. I’m not the biggest Jurassic Park fan; I loved the first one, that’s about it. But I can tell you that this now sits atop the throne for my favorite fiction from the series.

Set off the coast of Costa Rica, on the island of Isla Nublar, you start your four part adventure in an action sequence. Running from dinosaurs is something you will do often, and these “action sequences”, as I call them, are a series of quick-time events (QTE’s). Designed in a clever manner to mimic what is going on, you’ll do various button pressing and analog stick manipulation. Unlike the little bit of Back to the Future: The Game that I played, this game isn’t just a series of puzzles and dialog options. The scenes bring the Jurassic flavor to the field, and some really get the blood pumping and keep you on the edge of your seat. Every encounter with dinosaurs I had was intense, and enjoyable.

Quickly, let me add I usually don’t like QTE’s, as I think they break the flow of most games. On the flip side of things, I also loved Heavy Rain and what it did with QTE’s. Jurassic Park: The Game is much like Heavy Rain in that sense, as it adds a sense of tension, and the way the QTE’s flow are both well thought out and well placed.

After your first run-in with the cold-blooded creatures of the island, you’ll start to meet the rest of the cast. A collective crew once assembled, you’ll learn more about them all during the progression of the game. While the voice-acting is nothing that grabs your attention, the dialogue is at least mostly well-written. A few times, I scratched my head at certain dialogue options, but they were few and far between.

The pacing of this package is what I really loved about the game. Split into four episodes, each has its own cliffhanger. It makes you want to play more, and the peaks and valleys of the game are spaced out in a manner that you can sit down and finish an entire episode in a sitting. Time-wise, they average around an hour and a half, so you can treat it as a movie night with interactive qualities. Normally, when I played, my wife had to stop whatever she was doing because Jurassic Park: The Game had her attention.

As is a standard for Telltale Games, you’ll come to what I consider “puzzle” or “dialogue” sequences. These usually happen after a brush with danger and allow you to calm down a little. Most are very easy to go through; I only had problems with one. It was probably me personally just not getting it, and it broke the whole flow I had going during that episode. Most are quick, and they make you think JUST enough to be considered a puzzle. Like I said, these calm the storm just a tad before throwing you to the dinosaurs again. These are also where the character development comes in, as you learn more about the people you are following.

Now, pretty much everything has been positive up until now. So I suppose it’s time to shed light on the negative parts of Jurassic Park: The Game. First and foremost, the technical issues are HORRIBLE (at least on PS3). I can stand framerate dips. Sure, I’ll point out if it doesn’t run smooth in a review, but I can enjoy a game with them. To a degree. The pauses, hiccups, and skips in this game are terrible. You can’t make it through one short scene without something lagging. Some of the pauses froze the screen for upwards of 10 seconds. While those were rare and extreme, when they happened I was scared my PS3 froze. I missed quite a few QTE’s due to this, as well, so making a flawless run would have taken me multiple times. Sadly, it ruined my involvement in the game during some portions.

And my only other complaint about this game is that dialogue options have no consequence. Maybe Heavy Rain spoiled me with it’s “evolving gameplay”, and I realize it’s harder to write branching paths, but it would have been nice to have seen certain characters just explode in a rage when they are irritated and kill you for poking at them. The dialogue is there. You know NOT to try it, but you do anyways. They get more aggravated, but nothing comes of it. A few of the trophies revolve around clearing dialogue sequences perfectly, but that’s the only reward you get.  Having a consequence would have been a nice touch. [Note: This did not actually effect my score.]

Priced at $30 for the whole bundle, the story is very, very much worth it if you are a Jurassic Park fan. With high action moments and a plot that thickens and throws a curve ball every once in a while, it could even entertain someone not familiar with the dinosaur-ridden series. But looking at the horrendous technicalities, it can be hard to enjoy at times.

Pros:

  • lots of action
  • developing characters are enjoyable, and colorful in personality
  • the story just gets better and better
  • a T-Rex
Cons:
  • serious framerate issues, pauses, freezes
Score: 3*/5

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Author: Don Parsons View all posts by
Starting out as a founding member of Gamingcore Podcast, Don ventured on to start Gameciety; which began as a podcast, and ended as a blog. Don now handles Vagary.tv's PR work, is part of the reviews staff and has various other little projects he does for the site.