E3 2011: Jurassic Park Preview

We sat down with Telltale to discuss and play its upcoming cinematic adventure game. It has dinosaurs in it!

It has been 18 years since our first encounters with the T. rex and velociraptors of Isla Nublar, the setting of Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Jurassic Park. Today at E3, we got a chance to talk to Joe Pinney, designer on Telltale's upcoming Jurassic Park game, and we came away impressed by the way the title seems to be staying true to the spirit and style of the film while telling its own new story.

Despite the tone of the Jurassic Park game, which is more serious than the games Telltale is best known for, such as Sam & Max and Back to the Future, Pinney stated that Jurassic Park will have the focus on story and character that fans of Telltale have come to expect. He said one of their desires with Jurassic Park is to bring players back to the experience of seeing the film for the first time, to strike the balance of wide-eyed wonder, tender character moments, and intense thrills that the film managed.

Rather than the inventory-based puzzles that are common to the adventure game genre, Pinney said that Jurassic Park's puzzles would be much more about direct environmental manipulation. He then launched a demo of the game, letting us see for ourselves how it actually played.

One of the first things we saw was a woman climbing up a ridge. As she climbed, left and right shoulder button prompts appeared, which Pinney pressed to keep her climbing. It reminded us powerfully of Heavy Rain. The character was Nima Cruz, a smuggler who had come to Isla Nublar to find the extremely valuable Barbasol can containing dinosaur embryos, which the ill-fated Dennis Nedry dropped in the film. Nima had a no-nonsense toughness to her that made her immediately likable. Her partner Miles, on the other hand, immediately came across as shallow and selfish, a man more concerned with the possibility of a big score than with his own safety or anyone else's.

Nima and Miles soon found the vehicle Nedry had been driving. There were button icons displayed on the vehicle's driver's side window, the windshield, and the door handle, indicating anything that could be examined or interacted with. It seemed that this was how you would interact with the environment throughout the game. The absence of any inventory icon or other interface cluttering up the screen made the visuals more cinematic, and not needing to fumble around screens with a cursor to see what can be interacted with should make the pixel hunting that bogs down some adventure games a nonissue here.

As soon as Nima opened the vehicle's door, a creature leapt out and pounced on her before scurrying off into the jungle. At this point, Nima, who wasn't told that she might encounter dinosaurs on the island, started to suspect that this was no ordinary zoo, and a sense of dread started to build. But she still had to find the canister. A nearby section of the jungle was too dark to search in, so Pinney returned to the vehicle. Here, he showed off what he called picture-in-picture navigation, calling up small images of each of the nearby environments and immediately warping to the one he wanted to go to. This, he said, was not only for player convenience, but also to support the cinematic feel; editing out the downtime helps keep the pace moving.

Upon getting back to the vehicle, the adjustable lights on its roof had a button prompt. Pressing the button made Nima tilt the lights to illuminate the dark section of jungle. This beam of light momentarily caught another small dinosaur, but it, too, hurried off immediately.

Under Pinney's guidance, Nima demonstrated some ingenuity to figure out where the can of Barbasol may have landed when Nedry was attacked by the dilophosaurus swarm. Having recovered what they came for, Nima and Miles were ready to leave. But of course, before they could make their escape, a dilophosaurus (often referred to as a spitter) emerged from the foliage and hit Miles square in the face with its blinding spit. This was a comical and satisfying moment, since we felt Miles had it coming, but things soon became perilous as a number of spitters surrounded the characters. Here, we picked up the controller and were able to play the following section ourselves. From a number of dialogue choices, we chose to suggest that Miles create a distraction. This proved to be a bad idea, as his "distraction" was pushing Nima to the ground and encouraging the dinos to feast on her. He soon paid the price for this, though, and became the distraction for our escape instead.

In the ensuing action sequence, the Heavy Rain influence was unmistakable. Responding to button prompts, we made Nina leap, run, and drive in a frantic attempt to get out of the area alive. It was a fast-paced and cinematic sequence that paid off on the tension that had been building up during the preceding scene. Not every missed button press spelled instant death; at one point, we missed a prompt and Nima stumbled and fell but was able to keep going. At another point, we did miss a crucial prompt and perished, but the game wasn't punishing; continuing put us right back at that moment.

Our demo came to an intriguing end when Nima suffered a bite from an unseen dinosaur that Pinney said hasn't been seen in any of the Jurassic Park films. He said that this creature's venom is toxic and that it attacks the brain and can make people relive traumatic moments from their lives. This sounds a bit far-fetched, but it might also have some interesting story potential.

Pinney informed us that over the course of the five-episode season, players will take the roles of a number of characters, some of them with very different agendas, and we're intrigued to see how the relationships between these characters develop when they have to work together to survive. Pinney also said that we would see previously unseen parts of Jurassic Park, including the tunnels and other behind-the-scenes areas, as well as a marine exhibit.

We enjoyed Jurassic Park's cinematic presentation and the way it seems to faithfully replicate the distinctive building of suspense that makes many of the film's sequences so memorable. For more on the game, check out our earlier coverage. Jurassic Park is scheduled for release on the PC, Mac, PSN, and XBLA this fall. We look forward to bringing you more details on the game as its release approaches.

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Discussion

35 comments
ezjohny
ezjohny

I don't like the Game mechanics they suck, push button come on! I would like to control my game character like in Peter Jackson's King Kong the Video game based off of the movie! I like dinosaurs to! I think the game mechanics is going to get a low score for this game!

duron2
duron2

@JMYoda no actually, im reffering to the sega genesis game, where u play as Dr.Grant or the Raptor. Side scrolling platformer

JMYoda
JMYoda

@duron2 I'm assuming your referring to the SegaCD "Jurrasic Park" 2D first-person graphic adventure game (with a mix of action) It also had a mix of FMV. Some 3D CGI and some actors including advice from dino-expert Robert Baker. That was an awesome game and one of my first SegaCD games. I also bought the Genesis game release date after seeing how cool the graphics where but it was an average side-scroller with good gaphics using stop-motion dinos digititized (ironic since JP was the END of Stop-Motion in movies!). However it did have the plus that along with the main story as Grant you could also play a shorter version of the game AS A RAPTOR. The SNES game was great too (especially the DOOM inspired parts) but desperately needed a save system. Peter Jackson's King Kong game is a good show of what you could do with the JP license. That and Dino Crisis. I loved DC2. It used Spinosaurous b4 JP3 and had Gargatusarous (sp?) that made the T-REX look puny.

valent1n
valent1n

@Sagacious_Tien canibal ?

Sagacious_Tien
Sagacious_Tien

Any chance we can play as a dinosaur? Eat some man-flesh?

bipolar_shango
bipolar_shango

We want dino crisis 4!! *on ps3 & xbox* Its been so long since i saw dylan and Regina! ooh Regina...

Overlord93
Overlord93

Sounds ok. Operation genesis was one of my favourite original xbox games, I would give anything to see them re-make that.

kasra5004
kasra5004

It seems better than the original one. Oh man! that game had some annoying features that should have made it realistic, but instead they made it annoying!

R3FURBISHED
R3FURBISHED

I want to be able to play as a T-Rex or other large carnivore...

foojam
foojam

I don't play adventures but this here seems to have all the bad things that hardcore adventurers hate: action sequences.

ToughCritic28
ToughCritic28

@TransAmSD455 Yes! Completely agree. I would also ad Harry Potter to that list. And yes... they have made Harry Potter games; just not good ones.

not_wanted
not_wanted

I would rather have a Trespasser 2 game over this crap any day. This is not a game, this is an interactive movie.

szekiRobert
szekiRobert

Nowdays u can see at quite a few games the influence of HEAVY RAIN, for ex: the new Tomb Raider, NFS: The Run

usermikey
usermikey

Here's to having this game an action packed, survival shooter game, where it can only be epic if they make it rated M.

Vozlov
Vozlov

So the game with more potential than TUROK to give us a decent dinosaur game has turned into a linear, play once, trial and error, button scripted game? Gutted.

chyng85
chyng85

Is this the last topic~?

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

@carolynmichelle @RedWave247 @Goldrock Too true, I stand corrected. Seems Tell Tale is leading the charge of retro, or at the very least they're one of those at the front lines. I suppose as long as they stay away from a game on E.T. we'll be fine!

duron2
duron2

I hope it kinda feels like the sega game :P

Centurion95
Centurion95

I got my hopes up for this game, hope it comes off well sense Jurassic Park is one of my all time favorite movies.

marcthpro
marcthpro

this look like a Rated-M games the Dino look enough scary if it see blood / limber get damage it will be Rated M no matter what

rat5112
rat5112

Jurassic Park was the first PG-13 my parents ever let me see. Take that nostalgia and Tell Tales track record with adventure games and I'll keep my eye on this one.

Goldrock
Goldrock

@pixaladdict you not very familiar with the company thats doin the game? because they have done sam and max,monkey island and the back to the future game, and there talk on a new kings quest series this company like to rework the retro stuff what makes them so cool.

woolysockofdoom
woolysockofdoom

I'm just waiting for Trespasser 2. Preferably made in the CryEngine.

carolynmichelle
carolynmichelle moderator staff

@PixelAddict Telltale also currently has a quite good series of Back to the Future games going.

RedWave247
RedWave247

@PixelAddict Hey, we had Ghostbusters, so why not?

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

What a strange idea it is to make a Jurassic Park game years and years after the fact. What's next? Dukes of Hazzard: The Game? Baywatch: The Game? Gunsmoke: The Game? Ok, that last one was Red Dead Redemption. My bad.

Hattorihanzo15
Hattorihanzo15

Dang, was hoping it was more along the lines of Operation Genesis. oh well, i'm still looking forward to playing it.

Goldrock
Goldrock

i love the cinematic games like heavy rain i wish their were more jerrasic park will be the series for me i have all of telltales games>

thunderboltx7
thunderboltx7

OMG as a kid, I metaphorically creamed myself over this stuff

TransAmSD455
TransAmSD455

You know? i think the whole Jurassic Park franchise is awesome, its a shame its full potential has never been tapped in the world of games.

prismtech
prismtech

and i was asking where this game is at E3 during the live show...... looks nice

Z9ST
Z9ST

Interesting, sounds cool, hope it's not too quicktime event heavy

jpw2
jpw2

Can't wait, just hope its not a let down =[