The world of video games is no stranger to prehistoric lizards. First there was the fog-riddled but fun Turok: Dinosaur Hunter on the Nintendo 64. Then Capcom followed up three years later with its dino-hunting survival-horror title Dino Crisis for the PlayStation. Likewise, the Jurassic Park franchise has made the rounds on video game consoles, though with less than satisfying results. Universal Interactive and Savage Entertainment are hoping to buck that trend with Jurassic Park: Survivor for the PlayStation 2.
Jurassic Park: Survivor is currently scheduled for release later this year alongside the premiere of Jurassic Park III in theatres. In contrast to most licensed games, though, Survivor will not even vaguely follow the plot of the upcoming movie. The development studio behind the game, Savage Entertainment, has decided to compose a unique storyline for Survivor that will allow the studio to develop and realize its own creative ideas. The island that the first two Jurassic Park movies were set in is again the backdrop for Jurassic Park: Survivor. The would-be amusement park has been all but abandoned, save for a few scientists who have ventured there to conduct studies and a team of security personnel. David Vaughn, Survivor's protagonist, works on the island's security force. His mundane world is turned upside down when a helicopter carrying troops crashes on the island and a full-scale coup ensues. Vaughn eventually discovers that his boss, the head of security on the island, has made an underhanded deal with a shadowy corporation that wants dinosaur DNA. It's up to David to reunite with his security team, contain the dinosaurs, and prevent the mysterious corporation from escaping the island with the DNA.
Jurassic Park: Survivor is a third-person action-adventure that fuses aspects of the Turok and Tomb Raider series into a single game. Its tropical environments and mixture of prehistoric and human enemies are both reminiscent of Acclaim's dino-blasting Turok games, but its use of the third-person perspective allows David to borrow most of the moves in Lara Croft's repertoire. He may use a variety of weapons, and he climbs, shimmies across ledges, rolls and comes up firing, and rappels down cliff faces. He can also swim, duck, and drive vehicles, such as an ATV.
It's implicit that the game will have a good deal of puzzles, and it does. The majority of its puzzles involve manipulating the environments or causing the dinosaurs to do David's bidding. Since the dinosaurs kill without prejudice, David can lure them to areas with human enemies and let the prehistoric lizards do the dirty work--one scenario in particular has you capturing a T-rex and unleashing it upon a large group of unsuspecting enemies. Beyond the exploration and puzzle solving, though, there's a great deal more to Survivor's gameplay. Much like in Metal Gear Solid, stealth is required in several instances if you want to proceed in the game. Sometimes he must dodge searchlights, and at other times he must find his way across vast pastures loaded with dinosaurs without the aid of weaponry. What's more, Swingin' Ape--a company formed by ex-Hydro Thunder developers--will be handling an ATV chase scene that has David fleeing the hungry reptiles.
There will be 12 levels included in Jurassic Park: Survivor, and they'll be made up of a surprisingly robust selection of environments. Throughout the course of the game, David will comb the island's beaches, traverse its treacherous cliff-speckled canyons, endure its bug-infested jungles, fumble around its darkened network of caves, and infiltrate the security compounds. Thanks to his security clearance, though, David will have access to the island's computer and transportation network.
A security tram is used to transport David from one level to another, and he may use computer terminals located throughout the game to access and control security cameras. These cameras provide you with several extra sets of eyes that help you scope out the levels or spot enemies and special items. David also has a PDA that allows him to access a map or contact other members of the security team. Most of the weapons that will be included in the game have yet to be implemented, but a pistol, an electric prod that functions as a melee weapon, and a grenade launcher are already in working order. Using a pistol on the larger dinosaurs will do little more than grab their attention, though, so it's best to seek cover if you don't have the proper tool for the job.
There are eight different dinosaurs included in Survivor, along with four different types of enemy officers and several bosses. The dinosaurs, of course, are the real stars of the show. There will be airborne pterodactyls; knee-high, pack-traveling compies; lumbering triceratops; Jurassic Park's signature raptors; light-fearing truadons; wily spitters; many a tyrannosaurus rex; and the only dinosaur higher on the food chain than the T-rex, the spinosaur. Savage is focused on making the dinosaurs as realistic as possible, and the studio has some ambitious plans for their AI. If you run after some dinosaurs, they will lead you to traps, and others are intelligent enough to know when they are outgunned. True to its nature, the T-rex will only be able to detect movement. Savage revealed that the enemies will respawn after an area has been cleared, though it is taking great care to balance the rate at which they regenerate.
Savage has commissioned the construction of several intricately detailed dinosaur models to populate Survivor with. The resulting single-skinned dinosaurs are looking sharp, with skins that feature rich, vibrant colors and myriad details, such as wrinkles. Each dinosaur currently has approximately 10 animation routines, including a variety of attacks. Some of the larger dinosaurs' throats will expand when swallowing prey, and flaps of skin around their mouths will jiggle about when they roar. Though they're composed of approximately 1,500 polygons apiece, the dinosaurs are cleverly constructed to make the most out of each one.
The game's levels are enormous, and they're heavily populated with palm trees, buildings, and dinosaurs. Most of the special effects have yet to be implemented, but the confusing caves level has David equipped with a mining helmet that flashes real-time lighting around the caverns to help you find your way. Gratuitous gore will not be a part of this T-rated game, but blood does spill out on the ground when you drop a dino.
The majority of the music and sound effects included in the game are simply placeholders at this stage in its development. Savage will be using the same exact dinosaur cries that will be used in Jurassic Park III, though, so they should eventually sound authentic. The musical theme for the game has yet to be determined; Savage and Universal Interactive are still in the process of sorting out the rights to use the music from the movie.
Very few movie games end up being successful, perhaps because they try to emulate an experience the player has likely already had. Since Savage is creating its own story for Jurassic Park: Survivor, though, it seems to have the freedom to step outside the conventions of the series and concentrate on making a great game. Jurassic Park: Survivor is still very early in development, but it is definitely a game to watch as its release date nears. As it stands, the game is currently scheduled to hit store shelves in the fall.