It takes plenty of guts to try to create a brand new game based on the film Jurassic Park. The movie has seen several game installments that never lived up to the quality of the film, but TellTale Games decided that there was still something left to be gained from exploring the wilds of Isla Nublar. But after the game seemed to be quickly approaching completion, the developer announced that they were postponing the release to deliver a polished game. Now that TellTale has given us a look at Jurassic Park at this year’s E3, we have an idea of just how unique an experience the game will offer.
It’s never good to hear that a game won’t be making its scheduled release, but when a developer that’s been around as long as the creators of Sam & Max says they need more time, it’s likely that the decision wasn’t made lightly.
And it’s not as if the company is taking time off, with both a game version of The Walking Dead being developed alongside Back to the Future, and a reboot of King’s Quest still on its way.
But Crichton and Spielberg fans don’t have to worry that Jurassic Park isn’t being given its due attention, since the gameplay shown behind closed doors at E3 2011 was much more advanced than what we’ve previously seen. It’s fair to say that the high-intensity action of the JP franchise doesn’t automatically fit with TellTale’s generally more lighthearted games.
That criticism was justified according to the developers, as they themselves explained that this game has meant they had to stretch themselves a great deal more than normal, but their intentions are coming from the right place. According to the developers, the goal of the team is to take players back to those original films in the series with their five-part episodic series. The traditional point-and-click adventure gameplay alone can’t do that, so some significant changes have been made.
The first look at Jurassic Park gameplay seemed to offer somewhat of a hybrid between the cinematic delivery and button prompts of Heavy Rain with the more cartoonish style of other TellTale properties. We got a chance to sit down and watch a different section of gameplay played by TellTale’s Joe Pinney, introducing two new characters.
The plot of the game takes place during and following the events of the first movie, with special attention paid to the unresolved plot threads of the film, in this instance the lost canister of dinosaur embryos being carried by InGen’s Dennis Nedry. The E3 demo followed two of the mysterious figures he was secretly working for as they ventured into the island to find him.
The plot is clearly going to be covering plenty of new areas within the island and fiction of the series itself, so we’ll stick to the gameplay. To think of the game as similar to Heavy Rain is a bit misleading, as it doesn’t offer quite the same amount of freedom in navigating environments. Nor does it require as extensive an inventory system as other TellTale titles, in fact, Pinney explained that there will be absolutely no inventory system to speak of, rather situation-specific items that can be used immediately.
And that was the general impression from the gameplay shown. The player was given the task of investigating the scene of Nedry’s jeep accident near the end of the first film, but in many unexpected ways. While many games that ask players to investigate – think L.A. Noire – lay out a scene for the player to explore at their own pace, Jurassic Park provides a less intimidating experience by blending puzzles with cinematic vignettes.
If a player isn’t interested in painstakingly examining a scene, they can instantly flip between the preset scenes that will be triggered throughout, further eliminating any need to explore.
At various points in the scene, new conversations will be triggered using a conversation wheel to provide a range of responses. Don’t think of any Mass Effect-sized branching stories though, since most choices seen eventually led to the same outcome. In this case a showdown between the main characters and a pack of dilophosaurs. A series of QTE’s were then used to escape the situation, or lead to a wide variety of deaths.
Everything about Jurassic Park seems to be geared not to those looking for difficult puzzles or intense and stressful gameplay, but to fans of the movies looking for more time in the fictional world. As the developers explained, the reason that the team jumped at the chance to produce a game in Jurassic Park‘s fiction was to take a deeper look at how the island fell apart so quickly, and answer the questions that they as fans ask themselves. How did the dinosaurs get out? How did they interact with eachother at first? What parts of the island did viewers never get to see?
Along the way players will run into Tyrannosaurs, Velociraptors, Triceratops and a mysterious nocturnal stalker that will be a character of increasing importance throughout the game’s episodic release. This dinosaur doesn’t attack its prey to kill them, but rather bites them, and waits for its poisonous saliva to bring on fever, hallucinations, and eventually death. Given that several characters within certain scenes will be playable, expect those symptoms to offer some interesting gameplay.
An unfinished rollercoaster and marine exhibit, as well as underground service tunnels were teased as game environments so fans looking to further explore the world of the movies won’t be disappointed. And while the game certainly seemed less challenging than the previous details may have implied, the amount of hints and shortcuts that don’t necessarily have to be used could offer a bit more difficulty.
We’ll have to wait and see just what variety of gameplay will be offered in the game, but so far Jurassic Park seems less geared towards those looking for a unique game experience, and more to those who liked the action and tone of the original film.
We’ll keep you up to date on anymore looks at gameplay of Jurassic Park, until it’s released for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 this fall.