Return to Jurassic Park

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Iíve been a fan and follower of Telltale Games since their first Sam & Max season. So, when the company announced at last yearís E3 that they would be working on games for two of my favorite movie licenses growing up, Back to the Future and Jurassic Park, I was ecstatic to see what they would do with this material.

A year has passed and most of the BttF episodes have been released, and pretty soon, we will get to start playing Jurassic Park: The Game, but I have to say, based on what I saw this year, Iím a little hesitant.

Telltale has been making great adventure games for years now, and even before the formation of the company, the people that work there have had extensive experience in this genre from other games, so they know what they are doing and they know what it means to be an adventure game. Thatís why I am saying what Iím saying with caution; part of me feels like the game has less of a point-and-click adventure feel to it and more of an interactive movie vibe.

I will say a lot of what I saw might be because the game was being played with an Xbox 360 controller instead of a mouse, and maybe we were just going through the console-friendly version of the game and the PC one still relies heavily on standard adventure controls. Itís hard to say.

What I did see was pretty much all of the exploration of a scene being removed because you could see all of the objects you can interact with, and each one had a button on the controller associated with it. If you wanted to talk to someone, click the button that is positioned over their head. If you wanted to look somewhere, click that button. For me, a major part of the standard adventure game model is the exploration of the scene. While I donít like pixel hunting any more than the next adventure-gamer, there is still something to having to dig around on a screen and figure out what items you can, and should be able to, interact with.

In our demo, we followed the two main characters, one, another Jurassic Park employee hired by Dodgson, is tasked to find Nedry (Wayne Knightís character from the film) and collect the Barbasol that he never delivered. This character is accompanied by a hired gun who is there to make sure the other one gets the canister and gets off the island safely. She has no idea what awaits them on Isla Nublar.

Our demo was the scene where the two characters come across Nedryís vehicle, and while they quickly discover his dead body inside, they donít see the canister anywhere. From here, we use what detective skills that seem to be built into our female heroís repertoire to follow Nedryís last few minutes as he scurries down the hill to hook his wench up to a fallen log, and scrambles back to the car only to be killed by Ö something. With the clever use of a tossed soda can, she soon finds where the Barbasol container landed, but she soon comes in contact with one of the islandís newest inhabitants.

I like the story. I like that the game is attempting to tie up a loose end from the movie and uses that as a way to get gamers back onto the original Jurassic Park island. It both looks and feels good and seems to really respect the original material, something Telltale Games is known for. What still bothers me though is how much it doesnít feel like an adventure title. Again, I have to temper these feelings with the fact that the game was being played with a gamepad instead of a standard PC setup, so maybe there are control options, not to mention the fact that Telltale hasnít missed the mark yet. So while I am wary of how the new series will turn out, I am still very hopeful that it will feel like a true adventure game and not an interactive movie.

Jurassic Park: The Gameís first episode will be released this November with plans to go out for the PC, Mac, iPad and PSN. There was also talk of a retail, disc-based, version for the Xbox 360 sometime after the last episode is available for download.