PSN Review – Jurassic Park: The Game

Jurassic Park is an incredibly iconic franchise, beginning with the Michael Crichton novel which was adapted to the excellent film. After a quiet handful of years, the dinos are back in the newest video game entry, Jurassic Park: The Game. Originally slated to be an episodic game, after some setbacks the entire four episodes have been released at the same time. The question is, is it worth your time? Find out in our review.

The game starts out introducing you to some of the game’s protagonists. The characters are likable, though their models are a bit stiff and it can be tough to make out what emotion they are trying to portray without their voice acting. You have the humble park veterinarian with his distant and trouble-making daughter, a scientist who is perhaps a bit too engrossed in her work and is losing her sense of humanity, a disgruntled native of the island who was displaced from her home when InGen bought up Isla Nubar, and a few gun-ho commandos sent in to rescue the others when things inevitably go awry. Story-wise, Jurassic Park feels right at home and draws on many of the film’s iconic aspects, such as a certain can of shaving cream many of you will no doubt remember instantly.

Really, though, the story is the best part of Jurassic Park: The Game. You can run through each episode of the game in under two hours a piece, which is really a shame because it is entertaining. The problem lies in actually playing the game, however, which consists of nothing more than hundreds of quick time events interspersed with the occasional section of chatting between characters. This isn’t the first game to be so heavily reliant on quick time events – Heavy Rain did it before, and did it very well, while still feeling like a game. But here it almost feels like you’re playing through an interactive linear story. When you fail – and you’ll fail a lot – there are no consequences other than having to retry the same section again, and losing out on achieving a certain medal for completing each section. Some of the death sequences are pretty cool, and it is sort of disturbing to see a kid getting eaten. But when so much of the game is faulty, it’s hard to enjoy what few positives exist in this game.

Graphically, this game is nothing to write home about. Most of the environments are filled with blurry textures and, while most of the dinosaur models are decently represented, everything else (especially the people) looks so bland they almost look out of place. Some of the characters such as Oscar the hulking commando have a similar look to some human characters in Sam & Max, and they border on comically large and weird. People generally look shiny, and cannot properly convey emotions.

Jurassic Park: The Game is developed by Telltale Games, who are no strangers to creating fun point-and-click titles like the Sam & Max series. Unfortunately, their experience didn’t translate well when dealing with this movie license. The biggest issue here is the game’s stability. When you are shown an action to perform on the screen, the game will often stutter right after showing you the button combo you need to perform. You’ll hit the combo correctly, but the game won’t register it, and you’ll fail the QTE and usually die a horrible death. There is not a single action sequence that doesn’t dip in framerate, stutter or outright freeze for a couple of seconds. There were multiple times that I came across where the game would freeze for upwards of 10 seconds before continuing, which had me thinking the game had actually frozen completely.

There are also some issues with the audio not matching up to sound effects and lip syncing, which definitely throws off whatever immersion this game may have had. The dinosaur sound effects are top-notch, however, and they are some of the few instances that bring back the wonder of the Jurassic Park franchise. The pause menu can get on anyone’s nerves after only a few iterations of each episode’s looping animation and accompanying audio, though. Luckily, you can completely pause the game by bringing up your in-game XMB.

If you picked up this game for free when renewing your PlayStation Plus subscription, you are going to be counting yourself lucky for not having to pay any additional fee for this quick time event haven. The one saving grace here is an entertaining story, though even this is a recommendation for the hardcore Jurassic Park fans out there. Be prepared to die many frustrating deaths due to the game’s instability during your short adventure, something which can hopefully be remedied with future patches. As it stands now, though, unless you dream of outrunning ferocious dinosaurs or really want to know the ultimate fate of that can of Barbasol, I’d suggest simply watching the movie to get your prehistoric fix.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ An entertaining story for die-hard Jurassic Park fans.

– Not much more than an interactive linear story.

– Inconsistent framerate and outright freezing causes frustrating deaths, numerous technical issues.

4 out of 10