Jurassic Park fans, you remember Denis Nedry, right? The back-stabbing computer scientist who stole precious vials of dinosaur embryos from John Hammond and InGen before meeting an untimely end at the hands - claws? - of a vicious, spitting dilophosaurus. Before he was torn to shreds, Nedry dropped his precious cargo - hidden in a shaving cream canister - in the mud, where it has forever been lost.
Until now, that is. Telltale Games, with the full backing of Universal Studios, have taken it upon themselves to continue Jurassic Parks' legacy with their upcoming 'cinematic adventure game', taking you back to the first island of Isla Nublar to discover what became of Nedry's canister and all the dinosaurs left to roam.
With Jurassic Park: The Game, Telltale wanted to explain what happened after Grant, Malcolm and Hammond abandoned the island to the re-birthed dinosaurs. The game will contain locations only hinted or alluded to in the film, centering on Nedry's lost canister. Keen film fans will remember Nedry was employed by an InGen rival to steal the dinosaur embryos and was racing to the docks to board a ship and escape to the mainland. On this ship was Miles Chadwick, contracted by the rival corporation to rendezvous with Nedry. When the latter doesn't arrive, Chadwick hires a local guide who grew up on Nublar, Nima, and ventures after Nedry's lost cargo.
"We have a sophistication in licensed IP storytelling that is unmatched, " the Telltale rep told us, before explaining that they consulted with Universal and Amblin over camera angles and stylistic choices to ensure the game's direction matched with Spielberg's from the first film. And it shows; while Jurassic Park isn't the prettiest game on the market, its cinematic sensibilities are top-notch.
"Really good stories are underrepresented in videogames," Telltale lamented as they loaded up the game. Jurassic Park isn't a standard third-person experience. Instead, Telltale have dubbed it a 'Cinematic Adventure Game', and the result is very similar to Heavy Rain. You don't directly control the player character or decide where to go; instead, button prompts and QTE sequences keep the game flowing in a manner that is very cinematic, if not quite as free-form or organic as some would like.
No Wonder You're Extinct...
The level Telltale showed us was taken from very early in the game. Chadwick and Nima have discovered the whereabouts of Nedry's jeep, crashed in the dilophosaurus pen, still tied to a tree at the top of a slick precipice running thick with rain water and mud. We know Nedry's canister is at the foot of this slope, hidden beneath an ever-piling mound of mud, but they don't. The Heavy Rain similarities are immediately apparent, as button-prompts slide elegantly across the screen as Nima investigates the jeep, finding Nedry's corpse being nibbled upon by a dilophosaurus.
Telltale also showed off Jurassic Park's conversation wheel. As Nima reels away from the jeep, a dinosaur leaping out into the brush, Chadwick saunters over, all corporate slime and sneer, snapping at Nima. It's a lot like Mass Effect, as Nima picks a retort from the ring of options. The voice-acting is solid, but the plastic texture work and robotic animation result in a very stilted, puppet-like affair.
Thankfully, the dinosaurs fare much better. Using actual sound from the film, a pack of dilophosaurs emerge from the shadows and attack our hapless pair. Chadwick is killed, two of the lizards gorging on his corpse - a far cry from Telltale's previous child-oriented work - as the player is forced to hit button-prompts in time and hammer away at the trigger to ensure Nima stays alive. She manages to escape the pack in the jeep, eyes glowing red in the darkness after her.
Exciting, Or Extinct?
I left the Jurassic Park showing feeling decidedly ambiguous. While I wasn't a fan of how heavily scripted and controlled the entire game was, the overall ambiance and atmosphere was pure Jurassic Park and, being a big fan, I loved it. Telltale isn't skimping on the gore, either, with a fair bit of blood-letting in the short demo alone, suggesting encounters with dinosaurs will be a tense and terrifying affair.
Telltale confirmed you'd be playing as multiple character across the course of the game, as evidenced by Chadwick's sudden death. A mercenary was confirmed, along with Nima, but Telltale wasn't ready to talk about playable dinosaurs just yet. When I asked the rep whether any of the film characters like Grant or Malcolm would make an appearance, he admitted they wouldn't, but did reveal a bit-character from the first film - the veterinarian the cast stumble on tending to a sick triceratops - was been a significant role in the game.
Jurassic Park: The Game is set to hit store shelves on November 15th in North America, with a European release to shortly follow