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Jurassic Park game tells an interesting story in an annoying way

Posted by warreni, in game review 10 November 2018 · 916 views

Telltale adventure

Telltale Games's solitary venture into Jurassic Park territory in 2011 is a bit of a departure from its older and newer games. It is a mixture of QTEs and mostly-trivial puzzle elements laden over a skeletal structure of an action narrative. The distinctions between this other Telltale games are twofold: the prevalence of QTEs in general as well as QTEs that require a specific, particularly-timed sequence of keypresses; and the collation of statistics, rankings, and trophies/achievements that are dependent upon obtaining "perfect" scores. Additionally, unlike some other games (like entries in The Walking Dead series), there is less of a constructed sense that dialogue choices and actions cause significant branching in the storyline. I could only see one or two points where this seemed to be true, which suggested to me that, for whatever reason, Telltale wasn't really trying to pull the wool over your eyes on this point (if you're unclear about what I mean, try replaying the last chapter of The Walking Dead, Season Two).

 

Journey back to a time in the franchise when the most dangerous threats resurrected by scientific hubris were tyrannosaurs and velociraptors. Remember that? Jurassic Park: The Game unravels the fate of Dennis Nedry's shaving can o' dinosaurs from the first film through the stories of a staff veterinarian who is trying to keep his daughter safe, a staff geneticist who may be as dangerous as her rival Dr. Wu, the mercenary hired by InGen's unnamed rival to collect the viable embryos, and the rescue team with the checkered past sent by InGen to retrieve its errant personnel. The story of the game, told across four chapters (and really, how much longer could they have stretched what was basically a tale of "get to da choppa"?), is interesting enough and most of the characters are fairly well-realized creations. The game also acknowledges what even friendly critics of the franchise have pointed out since the first film was released, as Dr. Harding wryly notes that most of the park's animals do not belong to the Jurassic Period.

 

That brings me to the QTEs. I'll be the first to stipulate that I'm not the greatest at QTEs, and I never really have been. However, the timing required, which varies from event to event, and the particular sequence, which you often have a matter of seconds (or less) to ascertain from the onscreen prompts before failing, borders on, if it doesn't actually cross like Trump's worst nightmare, the patently unfair. I say this in part because the game is designed, rather than just restarting you at a point before you failed, to score your performance and tally the number of times you fail a specific event or series of events; if the events were all reasonably straightforward or the player could easily restart a sequence without fear of consequences, there wouldn't be much value in this system. And, let's be frank, the game is mostly QTEs. Sure, there are some puzzle sequences, but if I could figure the vast majority of them out without a walkthrough, they're not very hard; there are also the bits of dialogue choices, but they're far from the majority of the time you'll spend with the game.

 

I've only played bits of Telltale's work that's earlier than this game, including some of the early Sam and Max titles and wee bits of Back to the Future and Tales of Monkey Island. This is easily the worst-looking of all of Telltale's games that I have played, and I think this has something to do with the art styles being radically different across many of those series. For Jurassic Park, the company inexplicably went with an "early 3-D shooter"-style for its character models, resulting in crude textures and unrealistic eyes and facial expressions. The dinosaurs fare better than the humans, but this seems like a weird choice in retrospect.

 

Okay, I'm going to spoiler this next bit because there's a serious WTF moment in the game.

Spoiler

 

The sound design for the game is pretty good. The voice acting is well-done and incidental music is appropriate for the tone of various scenes and includes the classic John Williams score. The dinosaur noises are mostly "authentic," in the sense that they appear to be the same ones used in the film, although a few sound suspiciously like big cats recorded at the local zoo.

 

I'm going to have to give this one a somewhat lukewarm recommendation. If you're a big fan of the franchise, it's worth playing through once. If not, it's fairly skippable. Telltale, frankly, did better work before this and has done much better work since. (One fun bit of trivia, though: the game does feature, rather prominently, Troodon, which is a species being introduced in Frontier's upcoming DLC for Jurassic World: Evolution, Secrets of Dr. Wu. In that game, as in this one, the creature will have a venomous bite.)






I remember buying that game and having the QTE where the car drops into the Diloph area.... I walked away then.  Realized it's not for me.  I've never been back to a TT game since.  That may be bias on my part but it's an unfortunate.

I remember buying that game and having the QTE where the car drops into the Diloph area.... I walked away then.  Realized it's not for me.  I've never been back to a TT game since.  That may be bias on my part but it's an unfortunate.

Yes, that was fairly early in the game. It doesn't get better. But Telltale games as a whole do. If you absolutely hate QTEs, well, I don't think they entirely disappear from them from this point forward, but, unless my glasses have gotten rose-tinted on me again (damn Transitions lenses!), they're not nearly as aggravating in later games. 

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