Jurassic Park: The Game
Some nasty bugs derail the first episode of Telltale's dinosaur adventure.
[Editor's Note: This review covers the first and only available episode, The Intruder.]
Jurassic Park: The Game is the best worst game we've played. There's plenty to love about Telltale's first venture into the dinosaur populated Isla Nublar, enough to keep players coming back for future episodes, but a series of damaging performance issues mar an otherwise solid effort.
Let's start with the good. Although the first episode, The Intruder, lasts little over an hour, the story kept us hooked the whole way through. The narrative takes place around the same time as the Jurassic Park movie, as new characters go in search of Dennis Nedry's shaving cream can, the one containing dinosaur embryos.
This side plot eventually intersects with the park's veterinarian and his daughter. What ensue are well-written scenes with solid voice acting to boot. We wound up caring for these people, even as one's life was in danger.
On top of that, the game features clips from the classic Jurassic Park soundtrack, as well as authentic audio, particularly the chilling T-Rex roar; you hear that right away at the title screen.
There are also objects and locations pulled from the movie, including the visitor center and the familiar tramcars that take tourists throughout the park. Those bring back fond memories of sitting in movie theaters in 1993, in awe of Steven Spielberg's interpretation of Michael Crichton's novel.
From this point, the game quickly descends into one huge mound of Triceratops poop. Jurassic Park has more in common with Sony's Heavy Rain, in the sense that you complete various Quick Time Events to trigger different actions and locate clues. One tasks you with rubbing the screen back and forth, while another forces you to press, hold and drag an icon in a specific direction.
Most of it seems unnatural, as Telltale makes little attempt at syncing the characters' actions to the controls.
What really kills Jurassic Park, though, are those aforementioned hiccups. The game has a tendency to not only stutter, but briefly freeze, making it nearly impossible to obtain gold ranks per mission, as things have a nasty habit of going haywire right before you interact with a scene. The Quick Time Event pops up, the game freezes and you're unable to react, thus receiving bronze or, if you're lucky, silver.
Now on the positive side, the app never crashed or threw the iPad 2 out of whack. This sort of sloppy work, though, is unacceptable.
Meanwhile, and on a lesser note, the Mass Effect style conversation tree system has little to no effect on the gameplay. It's merely in place to learn more about the characters' backgrounds and motives.
This, combined with barely two hours of play, make Episode One's $6.99 asking price hard to swallow for even the most voracious of carnivores. To avoid disaster, Telltale must issue an update immediately and make sure these problems don't afflict future episodes. Otherwise, Jurassic Park: The Game will be one colossal bust 65 million years (OK, significantly less) in the making.
Review code provided by Telltale.
Please remember that Jurassic Park: The Game is iPad 2 only.
Requirements: Compatible with iPad 2 Wi-Fi and iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G. Requires iOS 4.2 or later.
What's Hot: Satisfying story, some intense situations, enjoyable clue finding, excellent music, impressive voice acting.
What's Not: The occasional freeze, too much stuttering, conversation tree does little to affect play, roughly two hours long, $6.99, iPad 2 only.