Trespasser is the most frustrating game I have ever played. Of all the games I have ever reviewed, this one has been the most disappointing. Of all the games I have played, this is the one I am most adamant about never wanting to play again. I don't want to sound mean-spirited, but all gamers should know that Trespasser is a frustrating game, filled with boring gameplay and annoying bugs. It is not fun. It is monotonous and tedious to the point of nausea.
The basic premise is that you are a young woman whose plane has crashed on Site B, the second island from Jurassic Park, where dinosaurs still roam free. Your character, Anne, now has to roam across the island looking for some way of getting off the island or at least contacting some help. Thus begins your journey through eight levels of jungle and the occasional dinosaur.
Trespasser boasts a realistic and powerful physics-based engine. Knock a barrel over and it will roll and tumble according to the direction and strength of your push. But the designers went overboard with the physics. Everything is governed meticulously by the physics engine, and that complicates even the simplest puzzles needlessly. Even the most basic puzzles, such as stacking boxes to get from low to high ground, take more than a fair share of minutes to complete, as you have to be careful not to touch a box the wrong way lest you topple your carefully constructed box staircase. If you do end up inadvertently messing up your puzzle in progress, you will have to spend even more time rearranging all the boxes. Pretty soon, a puzzle that should only take half a minute has absorbed five minutes of your time. Now multiply that by the ridiculous number of box-stacking puzzles, and you arrive at hours of tedious box pushing and pulling. In many instances, you will wish that Dreamworks had abstracted portions of the game's physics.
The action in the game is no less aggravating. There are too many tedious tasks, and there aren't any fun things to do. Exploration is a huge bother because you run so damn slow in this game. Because the levels are expansive jungles and valleys, walking from one area to the next will take way too much time. Although, if Dreamworks sped up the running to a bearable gait, it would simply take less time to figure out the game's true nature: It is nothing but an uneventful and needless hike through a barren landscape. And if you do bother to wander around the levels, you'll find much of nothing. Just more jungle, with nothing to really hold your attention.
What about the dinosaurs, which, aside from the torturous physics, are this game's other claim to fame? There are hardly any, and the ones you see are few and far between. Along your prompted path (the half-constructed monorail system), you might run into one or two brachiosaurs or a stegosaur on occasion. As for challenging and hostile adversaries, you will run into raptors one at a time during different parts of a level. The curious thing is, John Hammond tells you that raptors are pack hunters, so why for almost the entire first half of the game do you only see one raptor at a time? (For that matter, why, when they die, no matter where or how you shot them, do they always lie down in that same position?) And didn't Sam Neil's character in Jurassic Park, in reference to the hadrosaurs and brachiosaurs in Jurassic Park, say, "They do travel in herds"? He certainly did, so why is it that you see one lone hadrosaur at a time and at best two brachiosaurs? It's ridiculous. I think the early claims were for a living ecosystem, but this ecosystem barely qualifies as populated.
Another annoyance is that these dinosaurs don't act independently. One benefit of the Trespasser engine is a range of sight that lets you peer far into the distance. Unfortunately, it also allowed me to see that the brachiosaurs off in the distance didn't start moving until I got closer. It was like they were waiting for their cue to start acting. So much for sitting on tree branches to see this world come to life. And even when I did see dinosaurs interacting, it was in a disappointing fashion. I lured a raptor to a stegosaur, hoping to see some gory, tail-slapping action, only to witness the stegosaur try to bite the oncoming raptor. At least that's what I assume the stegosaur did, because it tried to poke its assailant with its snout. Everybody knows that a stegosaur would defend itself with its wickedly spiked tail... everybody, it seems, except the stegosaur.
The list goes on. There are numerous collision detection bugs. Dinosaurs crashed into each other, boxes got pushed through walls, a brachiosaur impaled itself on a few trees. Many times I walked into an area to see the resident dinosaur fall 50 feet from the sky or jump up that same distance, turn around, and then crash back to the ground.
The voice acting is lackluster. Minnie Driver (as the main character, Anne) can't even muster up an ounce of excitement when she sees a dinosaur for the first time (guess it's an everyday occurrence for her), and Hammond's and Anne's voice-overs sometimes make no sense. One time, at a waterfall, Anne started talking about sleeping at a bus stop and eating vending machine food. What that had to do with her stay on Site B, I don't know. It was as perplexing as the rest of this game.
You still want to hear more? Well, the arm looks ridiculous, and you can get it to bend in sickening ways that no human would be able to bear. It's also absolutely ludicrous the lengths the designers force you to go through to pick up an object. Yes, it's realistic, but it sure as hell isn't fun having to jut out your hand at every object and then hit two keys while maneuvering your arm to the precise point to pick it up. Half the time, I ended up pushing the object around like some drooling idiot instead of picking it up. And why couldn't Anne have scrounged for a backpack at the crash site so she could carry more than two items? Better yet, why don't your two items carry over from level to level, even though it is supposed to be a seamless level transition? You see what I mean? This game is just too frustrating, too boring, too tedious, too enamored of its vaunted physics engine. It's a good engine, if you don't consider the bugs, but it doesn't amount to much of a game.