Reviewed: November 26, 2011
Released: November 15, 2011
Jurassic Park: The Game isn't a very good game. That said, that's perfectly alright, because its title is something of a misnomer. Jurassic Park: The Game is actually a better movie than any of the cinematic sequels to the original 1993 film, with fascinating character-driven plot, exciting encounters with dinosaurs, tense cliffhangers, and everything else that you'd expect from an adventure set in Jurassic Park.|
A direct follow-up to the plot of the first movie, the storyline centers around the Barbasol can full of dinosaur embryos that Dennis Nedry attempted to smuggle off the island. When Nima, a Costa Rican mercenary, is sent to recover them in the midst of the storm that lets the dinosaurs free, it sets off a series of events that brings her together with Gerry and Jessi, a park veterinarian and his precocious teenage daughter, a pair of mercenaries sent to rescue the survivors, and Dr. Sorkin, a geneticist who feels responsible for the welfare of the island's dinosaurs. While the characters' opposing agendas pull them in different directions, they have to rely on each other for escape and survival.
As a movie in disguise, the plot essentially follows the same path regardless of what you do, but at the very least, unlike other interactive movies like Heavy Rain, it doesn't pretend otherwise. The game's simple puzzles and dialogues between characters focus mostly on pushing you between crisis events, where the heroes have to defend themselves against dinosaurs and find a way to escape before it's too late.
The gameplay is fairly simple, and is more reminiscent of an iOS game than anything. You look around for hotspots, investigate them, and interact in various ways, or else you talk to yourself, or other characters, all in a way very reminiscent of touchscreen controls. While the action scenes are memorable, despite being extended quick-time events, and the lack of a single focal character results in some really fascinating scenes, such as the argument between Gerry and Dr. Sorkin over the rights of dinosaurs and the effect they could have on the ecosystem if allowed to go free where the player plays both sides, the simple controls and limited interactivity really push it toward the realm of being only barely a game.
Unfortunately, the Telltale Engine stats to show its age, and I can't imagine that being developed for PC, consoles, and iPad 2 did any favors to the graphical fidelity of the first two. While the dinosaurs are beautiful and indoor scenes are amazing, outdoor scenes tend to have a strange flatness to them, and the humans sometimes drift into the uncanny valley. At the very least, the movie's directorial style and sound direction is preserved, and the game's style manages to overcome the technical issues most of the time.
It's hard to rate Jurassic Park: The Game as an actual game. While it's a terrific movie, when it's sold for PC at $30 for an experience only slightly more interactive than watching the original movie on DVD, it's a pretty terrible game. It'd be worth chipping in together with friends and gathering around to play it together, since it's a genuinely wonderful experience, but alone, it's incredibly hard to justify.