Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 11/26/01 | Genre: Adventure
I remember back in the day when Jurassic Park was the coolest thing. I had one friend who could spout lines from the movie like nothing, and yet another who had a ton of the toys. Sure, Jurassic Park III is equally cool, but this GBA trilogy of games from Konami leaves much to be desired (aside from Park Builder, which isn't half bad). Really, how much money would the movie make if it were all about Dr. Grant busting up crates, un-jamming doors and endlessly running from dinosaurs he could not kill?
The game's story loosely follows the movie with Dr. Grant's plane crashing over Isla Sorna. However, in the game, he is unaccompanied and has a radio for communication. It's an adventure game with a dash of action for good measure. The view is 3/4 isometric, which presents a nice 3D feeling coupled with the really great graphics. The basic goal, of course, is to escape the island by reaching the docks to meet the Coast Guard. Minor puzzles abound, and won't keep you distracted too long because it's usually of the find-the-key variety. A unique feature called the Active Charge System is implemented. When you come across a crate that can be broken up, a jammed door or the like, you'll need to rapidly pound the B button to charge strength to perform the action. I thought it was a pretty good idea until I used it about 17 times in the first 20 minutes, at which point it got really lame. Plus, if a dinosaur attacks you while charging, you must incapacitate the dinosaur, then re-charge. Another problem is the weapon system or lack thereof. Dr. Grant is unable to kill the dinosaurs, but is forced to run frantically throughout the maze like levels.
The graphics are impressive, and use excellent subtleties such as water reflections and beams of sunlight through the forest's leafy ceiling. While absorbing the breathtaking scenery, one cannot fail to notice the horrid character animations that smudge the backdrops, though. Seriously, how does Alan Grant manage to outrun Velcioraptors when he sprints like he has a stick in his butt? The control feels solid at first, but soon begins to disappoint. Alan's steering is pretty good, but his jumping is sloppy. On top of that, to run, one must double-tap a direction instead of, say, holding down the B button. In the isometric view, this leads to finger cramping from constantly hold down the direction to outrun a threat. Finally, the weapon aiming system is pitiful and terribly awkward, causing you to miss the many explosive crates that are your only way to stop a dinosaur.
Difficulty is also a problem to further kick sand in the wound. My assumption is that younger kids, maybe 8-11, would get the most from this game, but it's just too damn hard! You're given a short life bar that is a pain to maintain, and only 3 lives. Luckily, the game saves your progress, but you may only save after a level is completed. The levels are pretty long and fairly large, which would be a good thing if they weren't so frustrating and boring to play. Add to that, the inability to properly take down the enemy, the over-used Active Charge System and the crappy aiming controls and you've got a recipe for cheaply developed money making game with a franchise name slapped on it.
I sincerely couldn't recommend this game to anyone. If you can finish it without ending up in a white jacket with funny sleeves, then congrats to you. But for the rest of us, it'd probably be best to steer clear.