A videogame inspired by Jurassic Park? Surely you jest! There have been close to a dozen videogames manufactured since the original big screen adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel first premiered in 1993, all of which seem to have gone the way of the dodo since then — or, the dinosaur, if you prefer. And, while fans of the franchise sit around and wait to see if the near-legendary fourth film will ever get made, Telltale Games has developed Jurassic Park: The Game. Like several other Telltale games made in recent years, the title is an episodic one — and is presented in four chapters.
We begin with “Episode 1: The Intruder,” which takes us back to that fateful night from the first movie when the dinosaurs escaped. As you may recall (look, watch the damn movie if you don’t remember!), the traitorous Dennis Nedry (played by Wayne Knight in the film) stored several dino embryos inside a Barbasol container with a secret compartment (which was product placement at its finest). In “The Intruder,” Nedry’s cohorts arrive on Isla Nublar to meet up with him and retrieve it. Alas, they don’t know he’s lying dead in his jeep, and that the valuable shaving cream can is buried in mud.
The cohorts in question are a sleazy jerk named Miles and a young Latina smuggler, Nima. Needless to say, only Nima makes it through the night — with the canister — but is bitten by a passing critter, to wit she passes out. Luckily for her, park veterinarian Gerry Harding runs into her on the road (literally), and he and his daughter Jess take her to safety. Well, the safety part of that takes a bit: they Gerry and Jess have to make it through the night first (while their new, unwanted, uninvited crook of a guest sleeps and convulses), surviving several visits from a very hungry T-Rex.
Episode 1 ends with a now-conscious Nima repaying the kindness her rescuers bestowed upon her by pulling out a gun, implying that they won’t make it to Episode 2. However, once the average player gets through “The Intruder,” they might not want to hang around for the next chapter. Put simply, Jurassic Park: The Game isn’t “65 Million Years in the Making” like its filmic predecessor. Had this have been a regular animated sequel to Jurassic Park, it would probably be a pretty fun flick (it certainly would have been more entertaining than The Lost World: Jurassic Park!).
But it’s not a movie, it’s a game. Well, kind of. Jurassic Park: The Game has the look and feel of an animated Choose Your Own Adventure book, with most of the gameplay options added after the fact. There isn’t much interaction to be had here: you simply push a button when you’re prompted to and sit back and watch the story unfold the rest of the time. Should whichever character you’re playing die (easy to do, given how random the controls seem — you can go back and try again, just as if you were going back to the last page you were on before you met your untimely demise.
Speaking of characters, the facial expressions on the game’s individuals are a hoot; exhibiting eyes wider than silver dollars in fear amidst relaxed conversations, and lethargic appearances as prehistoric creatures from another existence threaten to end their own. Apart from that, the animation is pretty grand, and the voices — provided by such professionals as Jon Curry and Nika Futterman — are top notch. The game even recycles the timeless music of John Williams as part of its soundtrack. Alas, good graphics, fine voices, and marvelous music aren’t enough to carry the weight of the rest of this episode.
Will Episode 2 fare any better in my book? Wait and see.
Jurassic Park: The Game, Episode 1 – “The Intruder” is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence. This game can also be found on: PC, Xbox 360, iPad, Macintosh.