For anyone who grew up loving dinosaurs, the Jurassic Park movies were pretty much a dream come true. Dinosaurs in the modern world with the ability to observe them in nature? With Jurassic Park: The Game, Telltale has aimed to capture this magic in video game form.
Do they succeed? Well, in this case, it all depends on a player’s love (or hatred) of quick time events.
Jurassic Park: The Game follows a pretty archetypal family doing very archetypal things. The story plays it safe at the beginning, with the typical fractured daughter/father relationship that we’ve seen plenty of times before. Luckily, some witty writing and good, but not top tier, voice acting makes up for the cliches – still, Jurassic Park: The Game‘s narrative doesn’t venture anywhere near the intrigue captured on film.
That isn’t to say the story is bad. While the characters can be annoying but are mostly likeable, the plot is cliched but still interesting at points – and is more than enough to keep the player invested. There are also mentions of ethics and a few other sub-plots to give the story a bit more heft – and, for the most part it works, as the plot is probably one of the better side-canon Jurassic Park story arcs. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay may frustrate some gamers.
Simply put, Jurassic Park: The Game has more quick time events than Heavy Rain. The gameplay is entirely based on QTE’s and for the most part players have little to no control over the characters aside from pressing the right button(s) at the right time. Depending on a player’s preferences, the reliance on quick time events could be either a plus or a negative. The mechanic allows Telltale to focus on the narrative and deliver some quality storytelling as well as make close-call situations especially exhilarating. However, at the same time, it does remove a lot of control from the experience – and is sure to frustrate players who die time and time again because they pressed the wrong button. Needless to say, for anyone who loathes quick time events, it’s unlikely that Jurassic Park: The Game is set to deliver a satisfying or enjoyable experience.
Telltale breaks up the emphasis on quick time events with a number of puzzle sections and, surprisingly, the puzzles are a high point for the game – as they find a good balance between remaining simple enough to solve but still challenging so that players won’t nail most of them on the first try. Anyone hoping for more open world exploration in these segments will be disappointed since gamers still won’t have full control over the playable characters – in these sections, all they can do is switch perspectives and look around the environment to solve the puzzle at hand.
The emphasis on story is unfortunately hindered by a choppy game, especially during action heavy sequences. The problem is compounded by intrusive loading screens – which become even more apparent during the game’s third episode. Ultimately, tech hiccups could be slightly forgivable if they didn’t directly affect the onscreen action – specifically causing issues with the dialogue. At certain times the game will slow down so much that dialogue is skipped or no longer in sync with a character’s mouth or, even worse, cause missed inputs for the in-action quick time events. Players who can’t keep up with the subtitles will miss story content as well as instructions that can make for a frustrating play experience but the impact on QTE gameplay is indefensible – since the game’s slowdown undermines moments where precision and timing are key.
For Jurassic Park fans, these issues are probably forgivable. There’s still a nostalgia-fueled joy that comes form hearing a T-Rex roar or watching a baby Triceratops eat. Jurassic Park: The Game isn’t a terrible game but it is hindered by a few large flaws. The heavy focus on quick time events could have been forgivable if the game didn’t suffer from game-breaking framerate problems – but, until TellTale releases a fix for the game, a lot of players will no doubt feel as though the game is working against their enjoyment at times. For die-hard fans of the Jurassic Park films, there’s enough enjoyment in TellTale’s game for another trip back to Isla Nubar (if only for the nostalgia involved) but, unfortunately, non-fans aren’t likely to find enough compelling gameplay in Jurassic Park: The Game to warrant a purchase at this time.
Jurassic Park: The Game is available now on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC/Mac.
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