Game Reviews

Jurassic Park: The Game 1 HD

Star onStar onStar halfStar offStar off
Jurassic Park: The Game 1 HD

When you first load Telltale's Jurassic Park, you're instantly whisked 20 years down memory lane. Back to the more innocent 1990s, when The Simpsons was still on BBC 2, everyone knew the lyrics to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and web pages took seven years to open.

The game kicks on that hose of memory-lane nostalgia juice straight away, with the classic logo that adorned so many pencil cases and pogs, and the swelling orchestral score that, to a small subset of Generation Yers, is more iconic than Darth Vader's entrance theme.

Once the game gets going you're sent tumbling farther down memory lane. Another ten years go by and you're now trapped in a 1980s arcade. This was a time when laser disc games like Dragon's Lair and Space Ace gobbled 50p pieces for their awe-inspiring visuals, despite being a little light on the gameplay.

What do you call a blind dinosaur?

You see, much of Jurassic Park relies on similar quick-time events and button-mashing. A thrilling cut-scene plays beyond your control - where heroes narrowly avoid the toothy maw of an extinct lizard - and every now and again a command flashes up on the screen for you to follow.

You'll have to swipe left or bash your iPad in with an index finger or scratch a deep burrow into your touchscreen when commanded, so that your character can outrun a stampeding triceratops or shakily load a tranquiliser dart into a rifle.

These events are often exciting, and frequently very tense. Having a dilophosaurus nipping at your heels will make you tap your device until the screen breaks, and knowing that messing up an interaction could mean life or death will have your pulse running.

A Do-you-think-he-saurus

Fluff up and you could face a momentary setback (and lose out on meaningless gold and silver medals), or have the blood of a 14-year-old girl on your hands, and have to start the entire scene again.

And, for what it's worth, watching a prepubescent scamp being eaten alive by an angry tyrannosaurus rex (three times in a row, if you're rubbish like me) can be a little harrowing - it's not exactly the PG fun of Spielberg's original trilogy.

But, ultimately, they're still Dragon's Lair-style events. It's half-hearted, glued-on game design, letting you accomplish incredible feats like following basic orders and paying attention.

What do you call a blind dinosaur's dog?

In the downtime, Jurassic Park slinks back into something that more closely resembles the puzzle-solving template that's been so efficiently deployed in every one of Telltale's past adventures. You'll have to scour environments for clues and solve basic puzzles.

The controls are a little clunky and its obvious that PS3 adventure Heavy Rain has had a huge influence on the game. But the main issue is that these scenarios are almost offensively easy, and they're over in a heartbeat. No sooner are you exploring the surroundings than you're going toe-to-toe with another angry triceratops.

Whether you're solving basic puzzles or ducking beneath a dinosaur's tail, it's all in service of the storyline. And it pretty much works, delivering action-packed fights between dinosaurs, more tense moments of horror, and even some convincing emotional beats - a welcome deviation from Telltale's usual comedy.

It feels like Jurassic Park. Perhaps closer to its source material than any of the point-and-click studio's previous adventures. The presentation is top-notch, too (though performance can be rough, even though it's exclusive to iPad 2. Make sure you reset your tablet before playing to make it run smoother), with a strong atmosphere, great voice acting, and gorgeously rendered dinos.

A Do-you-think-he-saurus Rex

But, satisfying movie fans with believable dialogue and making the odd nod to the past only counts for so much. Jurassic Park is barely a video game - it's more akin to an interactive movie or the flimsy Laser Disc curios from arcades of yore.

And at around an hour or two of gameplay for your £5, Jurassic Park's thrills don't come cheap. You could probably get more enjoyment for your money by simply watching the first movie on DVD while letting your thumbs fiddle with an Xbox 360 controller. You'll have about the same impact on proceedings, too.

It's good to see Telltale finally toss away the same puzzle-solving template that's been used in every one of its games since Bone. But Jurassic Park's action scenes are just too flimsy to enjoy, and its puzzle sections are too simple and infrequent to hold up the rest of the game.

Jurassic Park might have been 65 million years in the making, but it deserved a few more months in the oven.

Jurassic Park: The Game 1 HD

It successfully taps the nostalgic vein of the '90s' best trilogy, but in action Jurassic Park is barely a video game. Following commands to keep a movie running smoothly just doesn't cut it these days