Review - Jurassic Park Interactive
Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 3:14 am
Not nearly as good as most people expected, though not without its strong points, Jurassic Park Interactive suffers from having an unfinished feel. Delays surely hurt the project, with it missing the 3DO consoles launch. Perhaps it was felt that any additional delays were unacceptable, and thus it was released despite not being quite 100%. It doesn’t feel anything like a beta, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t help but think more was planned for it. More mini games perhaps? (JPI is basically just a collection of short mini games) Or maybe, an actual ending? Anyway, JPI does have some strengths that help lift it up somewhat.
Featuring fine graphics, top notch audio, and actual clips from the blockbuster movie, JPI does manage to immerse you in the Jurassic Park universe. Of the three, the audio fares the best by far. This was one aspect of the game that was praised, even by the titles most harshest critics. The movie clips, though welcome and enjoyable, could have been so much more however. What’s missing?
JPI does not feature any of the actual actors from the movie! Worse, the replacements look almost nothing like the people they are trying to portray. Sam Neill’s character, Dr. Grant looks more like Balki from Perfect Strangers, Jeff Goldblums Ian Malcom is more John Stamos, etc … Heck, Hammond and Nedry are played by the same actor, despite their characters probably being a good 25 years or more apart! It nearly yanks you out of the movie experience.
Of the eight mini games that are included in JPI, five are more like sub games. Based on very early arcade coin ops, like Space Invaders, Asteroids, etc... these dinosaur themed clones are okay, but don’t excel in any real way.
The three main mini games are a shooting section, a driving level, and a 3d maze area. They certainly fare much better graphically and audio wise than the arcade cloned games, and are more fun also. Still, with some care they could have been even better ...
The shooting level has you using a tazer gun to target attacking spitters. Using the shift buttons, you can scroll to the left or right of the screen as you search them out. It is not a particularly hard portion of the game … unless you make careless mistakes. See, not all the dinos are attacking you. But if you accidentally hit a neutral one, you’ve made an enemy for life. Hit too many and that life will be short lived. Another thing to be aware of is that the spitters vary in size. Some of the tiny guys can’t be hit at the default height, so you need to adjust the aim of the gun. It isn’t especially compelling, but if you charge the gun up and have good aim it doesn’t take too long.
The driving section was my initial favorite, as you flee in a jeep with a giant T-rex nipping at your heels. It was fun at first as I dodged roadside wreckage, heard the powerful roar of the huge beast, and saw him getting closer in the rear view mirror (stupidly placed in default at a screen blocking angle … thankfully adjustable) After a few plays though, I realized that it never really changed. The scenery, though good looking, was always the same, and the challenge didn’t seem to increase. Opportunity missed … sadly.
The 3d maze sections (although I generally hate mazes) proved to be the best. It also has the distinction of being the scariest (if I can call it that) experience I’ve had with my 3DO. Trying to find my way out of a cramped building with raptors hunting me is tense enough, but it’s hearing the darn heartbeats that really get to me. The constant droning thumping that gradually picks up as they close in … by the time they are on top of you it sounds like a cardiac arrest is imminent. And the clip of the lunging raptor (though far too brief) harmonizes perfectly with the characters terrified scream. Yes, I find it even more intense than ‘Space Hulk’ in the scares department.
This part of the game isn’t just a one trick pony either. Besides showing off 3DO’s talent for this genre, it also benefits by actually upping the challenge the further you get. The exit key gets harder to find, and the raptors even seem to get smarter at breaking out of the sections they’ve been enclosed in. Perhaps recognizing that this was the most challenging part of the game, the manual includes some maps to help out. Very small, and I’ve never found them all that helpful, but still a decent gesture.
A mixed bag, JPI is often viewed as a total failure. However, had this game not been base on a popular licence, I think the critics would have been a bit more forgiving. Perhaps it’s a measure of nostalgia talking (JPI was one of my first 3DO games) or maybe it’s because I really like the movie. I like to think though, that the games strong graphics and sounds, coupled with some varied mini games props it up to an average release. Enjoy it for what it is, not what it should have been, and play ‘Demolition Man’ for a movie/game translation done proper.