Jurassic Park Episode 2: Jurassic Jeep

By Shamus
on Dec 24, 2014
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

51 comments


Link (YouTube)

Yes, we’re being awfully hard on poor Jurassic Park. Keep in mind that this is a goofy one-off series and not a serious look at the game. We did this specifically for laughs and not because we thought the game was some sort of profound title in the TellTale catalog. It’s just that the mistakes this game makes are hilarious mistakes. Like, the sequence where an unconscious woman manages to stop you from spraying her on the arm? That is both conceptually ridiculous and visually absurd.

This game is kind of goofy and awkward, but the thing that makes it special is that it’s by the same company that gave us The Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands. That’s a pretty big step up in quality. This game is to The Walking Dead what Warcraft is to Starcraft. They took an idea and iterated on it until it was great.

It would be interesting to see what they could do with the exact same material today. What would a Jurassic Park game look like now that they’ve improved their craft? I’m guessing it would have a lot less “oops I dropped something, let me wiggle the stick to pick it up again” gameplay.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:



20201151 comments. It's getting crowded in here.

From the Archives:

  1. Jumus says:

    I’ve wondered, what is the diecast opinion on telltales’ Game Of Thrones and the actual the series itself?
    Also Chris, could you please fail more quick time events? You missed tones of potentially funny death animations during that escape to the jeep scene!

    • HeroOfHyla says:

      The Game of Thrones game seems interesting to me, but I haven’t watched the series. Any idea whether it’s necessary to watch it first?

      • Grudgeal says:

        There will be HUGE spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen everything up to now (or read the first three books).

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yes.Just dont bother with it if you havent either read the book or better yet watched the show.The few characters that get their back story in the game are the characters that havent appeared in the show(and Im guessing in the books as well),and the game expects you to know the motivations of the rest,and how to behave in their presence(though it doesnt really help much,seeing how all of them are schemers and master of that craft).

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      If I remember correctly,only Butts and Galaxy Gun have watched the show.So,Butts,have you died in westeros already?How many times?

  2. Grudgeal says:

    Holy emotional rollercoaster, batman. I would *like* to be this calm if I ever discovered a half-eaten corpse in a car. And that line reading…

  3. Tizzy says:

    Now I want to see a picture of a bunch of raptors piled up in a jeep waving guns in the air…

  4. Tizzy says:

    Chris and Roses get extra credit for obviously knowing their JP stuff. The rest of the cast can’t seem to tell their raptors from their Dilophosauri…

    While we’re on the subject, the game really botches the Dilos. As I recall, in the movie, it moves from harmless looking to aggressive over a long, suspense-filled interval. The game doesn’t seem interested at all in building tension. Sad.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,last episode I said something wrong.I accused the game of having nothing but quick time events.Thats not true.This game has nothing but slow time events.

  6. hborrgg says:

    Couldn’t they have just stolen Dwayne Kight’s likeness like the last of us did?

    Also I watched the scene on youtube. Nedry gets in the car and closes the door, but a dinosaur is already waiting the the passenger’s seat because audiences still don’t stop to think about peek a boo scares.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Well,as someone who constantly wears glasses,and was splashed in the face with rain multiple times,all I have to say about the poison in the eyes scene is:

    GLASSES DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!GOOD NIGHT!

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @14:30
    Clever girl.

  9. BruceR says:

    PushingUpRoses is a great addition to the cast. I really hope she can join the team again for other SWs.

    I really think you’re being too hard on this one, though. Bit of a group dynamic pile-on going on with the other regulars that what you’re showing on the screen doesn’t warrant. In terms of atmosphere, they’ve done a lot better here than most. And these quicktime events and the personal interactions are only one iteration away from the WD ones, at best. And some of Clem’s dialogue was kinda wooden too, as I recall.

    Part of the deeper issue though is how Walking Dead was a little braver, in the sense it departed farther from being a tie-in/add-on to the existing property. The connections to the series in WD are almost easter-eggy, not essential to the plot in any sense. Here, if you did not have the details of Nedry’s death scene seared into your brain as a young man, or that Laura Dern played Ellie, or you will never forget Muldoon frantically working the gearstick in the jeep in the T-Rex chase scene, you’re at a disadvantage. Their Back to the Future game was very similar. It’s the older idea of a game being a complement and expansion on the existing franchise, fan service, for the lack of a better phrase, much more overtly.

    I was down with you guys piling on on the Sherlock Holmes game. As a Sherlock fan I hated it too BECAUSE it got the atmospherics of the source so wrong. Not feeling it here yet. But I do wish you’d stick with this series too, honestly, because despite what I’d describe as tonal issues you’re still making me rethink an important film/book (and, admittedly, not so important game), all the same.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “And some of Clem’s dialogue was kinda wooden too, as I recall.”

      You take that back!

      Joking aside,yes its only one step removed from the walking dead.BUT,while this starts out stupid(I have no idea how it ends),the walking dead starts out a mixed bag,but ends up brilliant.And theyve achieved that by removing a bunch of stuff that no one cared about,namely puzzles and qtes.Subsequent games go even further in removing those,but still not completelly.They do,however,improve on the dialogue to compensate.

      • BruceR says:

        No, that’s exactly right. They’re coming from different places. JP started with a philosophy of you had to intersperse the story you’re telling with continual QTEs, even if they are not meaningful ones, because that’s your primary tool for keeping the player engaged: dialogue choices take second place. WD took the bigger risk of saying we’re going to try to engage the player with relatively complex dialogue choices that establish character even if they don’t branch the story too much. The QTEs and puzzles were fewer, but that also allowed them to be smarter, as well. Imagine the “Spanish girl being chased by a dilophosaur” scenes with some of the less interesting QTEs replaced with WD-style “kick the dinosaur in the face til it lets go” QTEs and you’d be looking at a better game right there. But putting character development and dialog first was the key, um, evolutionary change along the way.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    She got bit?So will she turn into a dinosaur now as well?

  11. hborrgg says:

    Are we already into dialog options that don’t actually say what they say they will?

    Chris chooses “Calm Down!”

    Character says “We’ll be safe here”

    Other guy says “what are you talking about? that’s stupid?” because of course it’s stupid.

    • Corpital says:

      The option on the other side of the conversation wheel even said ‘we’re safe’. I have nothing against using fake choices, if it is well hidden, but they are not even trying here.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait,”shes going into shock,but its ok”?Seriously?Are you high?Are you gregory house and youre doped out of your mind?

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “This game is to The Walking Dead what Warcraft is to Starcraft.”

    Except that warcraft was ok for the time it was released in.This was crap for the time it was released in.

  14. silver Harloe says:

    You can see this game some in episode 1 of walking dead in fumbling with the shotgun round and whatnot. I almost feel like they accidentally stumbled into the right way to do these adventures while making WDe1, then probably cut a bunch of nonsense bits out before releasing it, then focused on the stuff they liked in WDe2-5.

  15. Chris says:

    What would a Jurassic Park game look like now that they’ve improved their craft?

    Honestly I’m guessing they wouldn’t touch a character/plot light, action-focused series like JP these days. I’m willing to bet it taught them a lot about what not to do when making an action sequence going forward, though.

    Tales from the Borderlands is probably the most action heavy of the new breed of Telltale games, and how does it differ from JP? Just thinking about it sort of makes me want to do an ES on the subject, but let’s look at this scene from Tales from the Borderlands and compare it to JP:

    1. Inputs are simplified and some attempt is made to standardize them. Like, in JP when I grabbed the fence it was “Mash A to grab a fence.” When I was picking up the woman it was “Hold LB and RB to grab, then tap Y repeatedly to lift.” The latter is probably more analogous to the action being performed than the former (“Hold with left arm, hold with right arm, apply effort/lift”) but the inconsistency makes all inputs feel random. Sometimes movement is done with swings of the right stick, but sometimes movement is done by tapping face buttons. There’s no consistency to anything and it feels sort of like I’m tapping random buttons to unblock a cutscene rather than engaging in a set of generalized mechanics. In later games this is largely fixed. Not entirely fixed, mind you – Telltale is a pretty slapdash house in some ways, and a lack of a core design ethos seems to be among them – but it’s certainly less of a problem in Borderlands. Right trigger is generally the “fire weapon/attack” button both inside the loader bot and on foot. Player-input based movement is reserved for “dodges” and other quick movements rather than every single directional switch, and it’s almost always a big easy to hit swing of the analog stick. Excluding the menu selection mechanics for the loader bot, you can play most of this scene with just your right hand. It makes the whole thing flow a lot more easily; the player gets what the game is generally going to ask of them and the result is an exciting action scene they feel a part of rather than “Oh shit I was supposed to press X to slam the door in the raptor’s face, not A! What was I thinking?!”

    2. Inputs need to mean something.* They don’t need to reflect player choice per se, but the points at which you ask for input should be meaningful. Like, why were we smashing “A” to grab on to the fence? Some of these are in the next episode, but what is the point of making “mash B to close a gate,” “check the glovebox for maintenance shed access codes,” “hack your way through the jungle one swipe at a time,” and “press LB to pick up a dropped syringe” mechanics the game felt we needed to engage with? They don’t forward the plot and they don’t build tension they’re just… sort of there. Busywork for the player to do. Compare the “hacking the way through the jungle” scene with the walk to the St. Johns farm from The Walking Dead. Hacking our way through the jungle made us learn what, exactly? That she’s terrible with a machete because I can’t time my button presses right in their weird minigame? Like I said in the comments in the last episode, it’s the worst of both worlds: terrible character development, terrible gameplay. But the walk to the farm is the opposite: Lots of time spent on exposition, character building, and a bit of foreshadowing. When player input does come up it’s your opportunity to role play as Lee and pick how you want to respond to these strange St. John brothers, which is way more meaningful than tapping X and A to cut trees. The story gets to have its say and you get your little mechanical flourishes all without padding the game out with nonsense mechanics.

    3. Failures in action scenes need to be soft where possible with the *possibility* of actual failure. This is one Telltale still has a bit of trouble with, but it’s definitely something I think we’ve learned from their games. You don’t want a game you can turn on and play itself, but you also don’t want to have characters immediately die when they screw up. JP has a mix of both, for some reason: Some QTEs result in a death animation and an immediate “Do it again, stupid.” Others fail soft – like the cliff, where you can miss a few bits and still survive. The standardized inputs I already mentioned help this a bit – death and screwups are less likely when there’s an agreed upon mechanic set. This is kind of hard to balance because you do need the possibility of failure there to motivate players… but it needs to be hard to get to or the stakes need to be easily communicated. The Wolf Among Us has some good fights that let you fail a bunch and let Bigsby get some bruises along the way, which is a good example of this idea. It feels like you’re choreographing a fight more than actually fighting, but in its own way that’s fun too: you can choose how “exciting” and close to defeat Bigsby gets before you decide he “wins.” No one wants a 10 minute QTE to end in “And then the died. Oh wait, no, do it again.” And no one wants a 10 minute QTE where they can get up and make coffee and nothing matters. It’s more of an art than a science, but JP feels like throwing poop at a wall to see what sticks with regards to this.

    I could keep going, but I dunno. Jurassic Park seems like an important stepping stone for the studio; a failure that needed to happen in order to get some of these much better games out of it. I know we’re ragging on it pretty hard, but a lot of that stems from both loving the source material (at least in my case) and knowing this studio would eventually be able to do so, so much better. And they’ve been picking good IPs for it (if we ignore Minecraft for the moment). Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Tales from the Borderlands all have action scenes that are plenty enjoyable, sure. But they also emphasize characters and all of those action bits are backed by tension because we care about what happens in them. That’s the magic here – Telltale games are about characters, not systems and mechanics. The mechanics should help us to shape their adventure, but the mechanics are not the adventure themselves. And the slow obsession with constant interaction, button presses, trigger holds, and the ever-present fear of losing has slowly given way to the modern “help your friends through an adventure!” approach. And JP gets some credit for making that possible.

    * Note: Not every mechanic needs to “mean something” or be integral in gameplay. I love when there are little touches and do-nothing mechanics that exist to build the world or character. But there’s a difference between optional interactions or intentionally systems-driven bits of a game and building a whole game out of “Hit the button at the right time to chop down a tree.”

  16. Arstan says:

    Actually, somehow I really enjoy this season of SW more than others. Maybe it’s because there are no tedious long action-gameplay sections, and i did not play that game, because if there are those action sections, it feels tedious, and in games i already played the urge to say “you’re playing it wrong!” is too strong)))

  17. SlothfulCobra says:

    It takes a lot to reinvent a genre. It’s probably more surprising that Telltale hit upon their formula s fast as they did.

    It makes sense why they’ve relied so heavily on licensing other IPs to make sure they have an audience for their weird experimental games. I think to this day, Telltale has only three games that aren’t licensed properties, Texas Hold ‘Em, Hector and my favorite, Neson Tethers: Puzzle Agent.

  18. Zukhramm says:

    I actually think the first episode of Jurassic Park is pretty good, it’s later it gets bad.

    Also, when people call The Walking Dead similar to Heavy Rain I don’t know what they’re talking about but this one is a lot closer and a lot more QTE-y than The Walking Dead is.

  19. Listen to what Rutz says at 10:52. Why was this episode not called “Shady Missionary?”

  20. Ivellius says:

    I don’t feel the Spanish is really *that* gratuitous; she’s generally leaving it untranslated and just makes a related comment (not really a translation) in English. I do agree with Rutskarn in that it seems more appropriate when she’s panicked / fevered / whatever.

    Pushing Up Roses, nice to see you on the Diecast / Spoiler Warning.

    Campster, them ignoring all of your Jurassic Park references is making me sad. My dad took me to see the movie for my 6th birthday and roughly half of my nightmares since then have involved dinosaurs. I’m impressed at the restraint you showed by not correcting them constantly referring to the dilophosaurs as raptors.

    Rutskarn, now I want to play Blood Bowl with you (I’m *pretty sure* that’s what you mentioned after Campster dropped her). I have trouble making my friends play (except for one who always wants to play Khemri). Also, the “picking up chicks” pun was excellent, as is usual for your brand of punning.

    Also, though I haven’t played this (I’ll admit I read the TVTropes entry), I think Harding being unaware of the capabilities of this particular dinosaur is a plot point to remember for later.

  21. el_b says:

    merry christmas everyone!

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>