E3 2011: Jurassic Park Hands-On
There’s surprisingly little coverage of Telltale’s attempt at the massive Jurassic Park franchise, and it’s not hard to see why. After the company delayed the game for a considerable gameplay overhaul, many expressed doubt that Telltale would ever be able to capture the same thrills and excitement introduced by the original film. Luckily that isn’t the case at all; Jurassic Park is looking to be a perfect embodiment of what made the movie so great.
Jurassic Park takes place smack dab in the middle of the events of the first film, right about the point where all hell breaks loose in the vacation facility. The game follows two groups of two characters: the park’s official veterinarian and her daughter, and two people searching for Dennis Nedry and his freshly stolen wares, which just so happened to have a tracking device on them.
The demo took place at the location where Nedry crashed his car into a tree and proceeded to simultaneously drop the Barbasol can and get taken out by a dilophosaurus. The small group of two, a hardened female bounty hunter of sorts and her stuffed shirt handler, are checking out the scene of the crime, and eventually figure out what happened to Nedry, only to get ambushed by an entire herd of dilophosaurs.
As Jurassic Park is an adventure game entirely dependent on atmosphere and suspense, it’s a bit difficult to explain its effectiveness, but the entire level succeeded immensely. Items in a scene that can be investigated are mapped to specific buttons, allowing someone not familiar with point-and-click games to not worry about missing any clues. Additionally, Telltale innovates on juggling multiple scenes in a level by employing a picture-in-picture mode of sorts, where you’ll be able to glance at all of the other possible scenes before investigating further.
That might sound bland as hell, and in all honesty, if it were anyone but Telltale, it may have been. Even though there’s an ample use of quick time events, they manage to use a fantastic script and impeccable choice in music to keep the player engrossed. And when the dinosaurs finally attack, it’s a riveting experience that is anything but boring. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a quick time event sequence that was as compelling and unnerving as the dilophosaur chase scene in this demo.
It’s made even more impressive by the fact that the graphics of the level we played left something to be desired. The scenes and dinosaurs were well animated, but the people were just terrible. They looked and animated like leather Muppets, and their mouths weren’t even in sync with the conversation.
Still, that’s just about the only niggle I had with Jurassic Park. The gameplay was solid, and almost certainly provides the sense of wonderment and terror that the movie introduced to millions and millions of fans worldwide. I hope it maintains that steam throughout the game when it releases on all consoles later this fall.