|Genre: Adventure & RPG|
|Min OS X: 10.6|
Mac OS X: 10.6 |†CPU: 2.0 GHz Intel | RAM: 2 GB | HD Space: 2 GB | Graphics:†ATI or NVidia card w/256 MB RAM | Additional: Not recommended for Mac Minis or early-generation MacBooks
IntroductionOK, letís get this out of the way first: despite its name, Jurassic Park: The Game (JP) from Telltale Games is not really a game. As other reviewers on other sites have pointed out, itís really more of an interactive movie. Itís not an FPT, RTS, RPG or any other gaming acronym; itís an interactive movie. You donít get to run around chasing or hunting dinosaurs or independently exploring the island. You DO get to help characters in the movie do these things. Clear? Good, then we can move on. It seemed important to say that because many people objecting to the game (and yes, weíre going to call it a game in this review because this is a game review site) donít seem to understand that.
Set during the later events of the first movie, JP follows several characters in a number of interweaving plot lines to create a new story which emerges from the events of the original movie. This is an interesting and in many ways fun and successful twist on gamifying a movie. While your role is not as immersive as in a more traditional game, you do get to spend your time helping the characters evade dinosaurs, explore the island, and mostly attempt to survive and escape. How successful does this game pull off this feat? Read on to find out.
While normally Iíd just shove everything about gameplay into one long section, I think it will be clearer to divide it into a couple of sections. The mechanics of gameplay are pretty simple and straightforward. You are walked through these in an introductory scenario. At various times in the game things pop up on the screen requiring your action. Often this involves pressing the arrow keys in various combinations with varying amounts of time to do this. Other actions include: pressing a single arrow key repeatedly within a certain amount of time; pressing an arrow key at just the right time; using the mouse to guide and keep a smaller circle within a larger circle; using the arrow keys and clicking to explore environments; and clicking on different conversation options. As far as what you do, thatís pretty much it, and if it sounds like it can get a little boring, frankly at times it can. While the game creators clearly made an effort to mix things up, it often feels like you are made to do things simply for the sake of doing things, not because itís really necessary.
The way the game itself works is a little weird and annoying. You essentially have one saved game you play through. As you finish scenarios you can go back and replay them if you want to try for a higher score, but doing so deletes your saved game. Furthermore, if you play an individual scenario, the game stops when you finish that scenario. The only way to play the game continuously is to load the game when it opens and keep playing, or restart a whole episode from the beginning. This was a bit frustrating for me when I had to do that once, though I did get through it much faster the second time. There are no saved game slots, no way to check out an earlier scenario and then go back to your game; if you start something besides the autosaved game, you lose your progress and have to restart the episode to get back to where you were.
Plot & Characters
As an interactive movie, the quality and success of the game, just like any movie, depends largely on the plot and characters, and here I have to give the creators credit. Theyíve come up with a nice scenario (which I will do my best not to give away much of) based on events in the first movie. Basically it involves the eggs Nedry was trying to steal in the movie and various characters trying to get off the island, but the writers do a nice job of integrating various elements into this basic plot. I tended to find myself drawn back to the game not for the gameplay but to see what was going to happen next.
Care has also been taken to create pretty well-rounded characters. While it may seem so at first, none of the people in the game are one dimensional, and you learn more about them as the game progresses. Again, I donít want to give too much away, but donít jump to conclusions about charactersí motivations or who the good and bad guys (and girls) are. You can tell from the plot, characters and script that the creators of the game took this seriously and knew they were making a movie in game form and not a game with a few movie elements thrown in. This also is clear in the closing credits which read more like a movie than a typical game.
Putting It All Together
So youíve got interesting characters, a good plot and fairly simple game mechanics, now how does it all work for the player? The game is divided into four episodes each with several scenarios. You automatically move from scenario to scenario and episode to episode as you succeed in the various missions. Episodes and some scenarios start with the plot being laid out and then as you go through scenarios at different time you have to perform some of the actions laid out above. There are action sequences that involve mostly the arrow keys, conversations that can move the plot in different directions depending on your choices, and puzzles to solve that can involve a combination of picking the correct conversations, moving between characters and using objects in the environment.
You start sequences at gold level, and as you miss certain actions or die (and you will die) you move down through silver and bronze. Supposedly the game makes things easier as you miss actions, but I often found the opposite to be true and found this mechanic a little confusing; sometimes missing an arrow press would kill you right off, sometimes just make things a little more difficult. After you make it through a scenario youíll get a message telling you itís complete and what level you finished at and the game moves on to the next scenario.
Generally speaking you go back and forth between times of watching the action on screen, action scenes, dialog sequences, and puzzles; these are mixed up and presented in different ways so you donít exactly feel like youíre repeating yourself, but none of the puzzles were particularly difficult and as mentioned above some of the action sequences felt a bit forced. I also wasnít sure that any of the decisions I made in conversations and actions made any difference in the outcome; some sequences I did have to repeat indicated that it didnít.