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Jurassic Park is like Heavy Rain, but with dinosaurs

2:31 PM on 02.18.2011 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
  @CTZ

Hold on to your butts! It's a Jurassic Park: The Game preview! Okay, that's the first and only Jurassic Park quote you'll have to deal with. Yes, I got to go hands-on with the first of five episodes of Jurassic Park and I was pleasantly surprised with the direction Telltale is taking the game.

Even more surprising, Jurassic Park: The Game is the first Telltale title where players can be killed -- and in pretty violent ways, too.

Jurassic Park: The Game (PC, Mac, )
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
To be released: April 2011
MSRP: $34.99 or $29.99 with pre-orders

In the Jurassic Park movie, Dennis Nedry attempted to smuggle dinosaur embryos to a rival organization. Dennis was killed by a Dilophosaurus, and the can of embryos was seemingly lost. There were people waiting for Dennis to deliver on the goods and Jurassic Park: The Game tells a new story that attempts to tie this loose end.

For my hands-on portion of the game, I was introduced to Jurassic Park chief veterinarian Gerry Harding and his daughter Jess Harding. Along for the ride is a girl named Nina and unbeknown to the Hardings, Nina is on the island looking for the Barbasol can full of dino embryos. Nina is passed out in the backseat of the Harding's jeep due to some injuries that were in all likelihood inflicted by some kind of dinosaur. The Hardings are trying to get Nina help when they come across a baby triceratops blocking the road.

The gate to the triceratops enclosure was somehow opened up, so the player -- as Gerry -- needs to figure out how to move the triceratops back into the pen. Your options at first are to push the triceratops or pull the food that it's happily munching away on. Neither of those work; the only thing left was to figure out the gate situation.

The gate was locked in place, so I had to go to the nearby control room in order to get it open. The control room required a key code to get access to, and the code happened to be in the glove box of the jeep. As Jess, you find the key code and help her dad open the control room.

The triceratops, gate room and the car are all presented as their own "scenes," and moving between each area is a simple matter of pressing the D-pad. With the car now interactable, I used the combination of the car's horn and high beams to annoy the triceratops long enough for Gerry to grab the triceratops food and lure it back into its pen.

Things are looking good until the horn malfunctions and won't stop making noise. This pisses off the alpha male triceratops, who is also in the pen, and it busts the gate's doors off before Gerry can fully close the gate. The triceratops charges into the jeep a few times before the player, now controlling Jess, can pull the wires out to stop the horn.

All of this commotion happens to grab the attention of a T-Rex and the two big dinosaurs have at it. While the dinosaurs are fighting, Jess and Gerry, carrying a passed out Nina, are trying to get to the control room for safety. The demo ended once the trio make it to safety.

Everything I've just described all requires correct button presses as they pop up on the screen to complete. Tapping the buttons, rotating the joystick -- all the usual stuff you see in QTE sequences are present. Messing up the QTE moments will result in some pretty damn brutal deaths.

The T-Rex notices Jess whiles she's making a run for the control room and if you mess up at all, the T-Rex will chomp right down on Jess. It's a rough scene, especially considering that Jess is a pre-teen little girl and the last thing you see of her is her arm and legs sticking out of the T-Rex's mouth as it shakes its head, trying to consume the girl. Other violent deaths I saw where characters getting stepped on, flung into the air by tails and getting crushed inside of the vehicle. 

While getting killed doesn't have a serious consequence (you're put right back into sequence), Kevin Boyle, the executive producer on the game, told me that he hopes you'll get invested in the characters so that seeing them die will get to you on an emotional level. Since I only played a brief section of the game, I can't say I was sad seeing my characters die. In fact, it was kind of funny, and I know I'm going to be purposely screwing up the QTE moments just too see all the ways you can die.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by how Telltale is tackling Jurassic Park. It's about using your wits rather than shooting velociraptors in the face. As for the dinosaurs, expect to see all of those mentioned so far plus some others, including a species that has never been in a Jurassic Park movie.

After careful consideration, I've decided to endorse this park. Okay, so I lied about the Jurassic Park quotes, kind of. 

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