Jurassic Park: The Game 1 HD [$6.99] is a mixed bag. On one hand, it's a technically messy and poorly optimized iPad 2 exclusive. It stutters and drops frames so consistently that it becomes nearly impossible to enjoy, no less play. And even when you're willing to forgive this fairly fundamental flaw, the roller-coaster-y placement of its sluggish and mundane puzzles has a habit of obliterating the tension it succeeds in building. But on the other hand, this is a Telltale production. The characters, which are newcomers to the universe, are handled with care and written as if they were, actually, people; the story is laced with excitement and drama conveyed with a palpable reverence for the source material; and when the game is actually clicking, the tension and the pull of its beats are enormous.

The story takes place in Jurassic Park sans electrical fences -- basically, right after Dr. Hammond, Malcolm and the rest of the crew bail on Isla Nublar and its new occupying force, dinosaurs. You'll be following a new cast of characters, including a well-equipped ... contractor lady sent in to assist Nedry with his capture of the dinosaur embryos, a veterinarian, and the vet's daughter, who obviously has some issues with her family life.

Probably the coolest thing about the game is how hard the world hits you in the jaw. It is the place you remember from the movie, right down to the signs, Jeeps, and specific audio. I also love the fan service Telltale throws in; the Mr. DNA callback in the middle of a T-Rex fight is probably the most awesomely absurd of the bunch, but you'll also hear talk of Muldoon and Hammond from a new perspective.

This isn't your typical Telltale adventure game, by the way. It's much more focused on cinematics than usual and you never directly control the people the story is focusing on. The puzzle segments, for example, are simple search and find dalliances -- just point, click, and watch the characters interact. This never bothered me. The lack of control bolsters an overall cinematic purpose, as the core of the best mechanical action of Jurassic Park: The Game hinges on some insanely harrowing interactive scenes featuring plenty of dinosaurs.

These scenes, mechanically, are pretty similar to what you might have seen in Heavy Rain: you'll be presented with a fast-flowing scenario, and you'll need to hit a bunch of contextual prompts to replicate what a character goes through in a scene.

In Jurassic Park, for example, you'll need to rub, push, and pull on certain spots on the screen to hurdle through the jungle of an exhibit as spitting dinosaurs chase you, or, a little bit later, avoid a T-Rex as he hulks out on the cast. I'm not the biggest fan of these kinds of games in general, but I did find some fun with Telltale's scenes, and mainly because of the effective tension. Telltale absolutely nails the drama and emotion of being confronted by a house-sized lizard. Also, the repercussion for screwing up in a scene is always death, so there's a reason to be on your game.

The bummer with the game in general is that each of these heart-pumping sequences are sandwiched by much more laid back and fairly easy puzzle sections. They feel sluggish in comparison and just don't gel well with everything else the game offers.

But there's bigger problems with the iPad 2 version of Jurassic Park: The Game: it's on the borderline of unplayable due to a myriad of technical issues. We don't recommend that you bother with it, actually, despite the fact that this game delivers on a lot of different levels. On the Mac or PC, though? Check it out.

NOTE: Screenshots from other, much higher-resolution versions of the Jurassic Park: The Game. Also, we finished the first episode on a Mac after tiring of the iPad 2 version's clunkiness.

TouchArcade Rating

  • http://twitter.com/mguniverse Danny Perski

    Knew it.

  • http://twitter.com/Sanuku Sanuku

    Exactly what i had expected from Telltale. Even i am sad that i was right from the Beginning i can`t believe again how Telltale could believe they could go through with all those technical issues the iPad 2 Port do have. I am close to requesting an Refund from Apple 🙁

  • Anonymous

    Ouch. Glad I waited for the review.

    It seems that Telltale's eagerness to port their titles to whatever platforms they can always exceeds their programmers' ability to make it run well.

  • http://twitter.com/bed42 Andrew Bednarz

    Very disappointed here as its a total break away from all the other TellTale games which I loved so much. Horribly slow UI for interacting with the environment/objects/characters. Lots of horrible 'do-a-specific-touch-gesture-at-the-right-time' which turns much of the game into a more modern version of SpaceAce or DragonsLair. These gestures have no game play value apart from making you do them right to play the next scene. This is a horrible mismatch of trying to make an 'interactive movie' and I see what they're trying to do, but I wish they'd been more explicit to their loyal adventuring customers how different this game is to all of their other games. Serves me right for not waiting for this review. But TellTale have lost some goodwill points here for not informing me how different this was to every other game they did.

  • http://www.about.me/liamdaly Liam

    iPad 2 only... dammit 

  • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

    Not really surprising it runs so poorly. This is a PS3 game, and the iPad 2's GPU is significantly less powerful than the PS3's GPU. (less than half as powerful, perhaps even as little as 1/4 of the power)

  • Oscar Sodani

    Why can't TellTale make a game that runs well? I loved Puzzle Agent, but it ran poorly. Puzzle Agent 2 runs SO poorly that I gave up on it halfway through. And I LOVED that game... 

    I know I would have bought all of the Sam and Max episodes... if only I could have gotten past the very first screen of Episode 1!

  • Anonymous

    This review reads like it was written by somebody who either didn't play the game at all, or barely played it. Unplayable due to technical issues? What technical issues? How about listing them?

    The review praises the game and then cuts the whole thing short by calling it a disaster, without actually explaining why. At best, this was poorly written.

    • http://twitter.com/nicholsonb Brad Nicholson

      You should probably try reading the review.

      • Anonymous

        I'll read a review as soon as you write one. How about that?

      • matthew wood

        to be fair the reviewer lists both the good and the bad in the review, you say he doesnt list the technical issues but its up there in the first line. brad haters be hating.

      • Anonymous

        To be fair, those technical issues don't actually exist. Certainly not to the point where they make the game a "technical disaster." Read the forum thread. This "review" reads like a smear piece, especially taking the headline into account.

      • matthew wood

        you say they don't exist but the threads got a couple of peoples opinions, some of them mentioning stuttering. if a games ipad 2 only it should be running cleaner as they don't have to deal with multiple device performance issues. both eli's and brad's playthroughs were obviously marred by it. games of this production value and cost shouldnt have inconstitant frame rate. 

  • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

    I think everyone knew to not get their hopes up on this... I'm also on to Telltale and their style of making games. Not into it at alllllll. Ah well!

  • Jose Nieto

    Brad, I played through the same game and experienced only a few stutters here and there. Compared to Sam and Max on the original iPad, the game runs at steady clip. Unplayable? Not by a long shot. I have to assume that you didn't bother to clear your memory before starting up the game -- System Activity Monitor did the trick for me.

    Though the graphics are better in the Mac version, interacting with the touchscreen made the experience far more visceral than playing with a mouse. There's also something about being close to the screen on the iPad that made the dinosaur sequence all the more scary.

    The game deserves better than this shoddy and pointless review. (And no, Hodapp, I didn't beta test the game).

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      We rebooted and did all the other rituals in attempt to make the game run better. Frame drops that are so severe the music stutters just flat out isn't acceptable. Calling this game unplayable is putting it kindly. This is one of the few games I'd have encouraged seeking a refund on had I written the review.

      • Jose Nieto

        Sorry Hodapp. Not my experience by a long shot. If you check out the forum thread, you'll other folks who also didn't have even a remotely similar experience.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Well, we write reviews based on our experiences with games, not the crowdsourced opinion of the forums I guess.

      • Jose Nieto

        It's not about crowdsourcing, Hodapp -- give me a little credit. When you are talking about technical issues, other people's experience actually matter. At least it should have encouraged you to dig a little deeper, perhaps even connect with the developer (as game review sites did when problems surfaced with the 360 version of Skyrim).

        But I guess it's your site -- you gotta run according to your own standards.

      • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

        Bitterness. They should have developed it better, don't ya think Jose? Majority of the games on the platform don't have this problem. No need trying to clean up messes here, get the game right and let it speak for itself.

  • Patrick Sullivan

    So it's not only unplayable, but also just a giant quick time event? That's beyond dissapointing no matter how emersive or pretty it is.

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    A game about a 15 year old movie? Sweeeeeeeet!

    • Anonymous

      lol - This is all that need be said

  • Anonymous

    Disappointing to say the least. And I don't have an Ipad just a iPhone 4 but if this review is accurate about the style of game play well then I will not be picking it up for my PC or PS3 either. No wonder there is not a free 1st episode as they normally have when releasing these big multi-part games. Damn shame..

  • http://twitter.com/grumblechris Chris Morley

    Yeah, I was massively disappointed by the performance. The Dev blog video really hypes this up, and while not as poor as Sam & Max, it still suffers continuously. When you only have one single device to optimize this release on (as opposed to, say, an android release), this kind of performance is unacceptable. It means that the QA team saw all of these issues - the frames dropping, the stuttering, the audio clipping - and they just said "well that's good enough. That's the quality we want to put out there." Makes me, as a paying customer, feel ripped off. I bet it's pissed off a lot of the devs too, who put their time and work into creating this game, only to have their family and friends experience it in a crappy, poorly optimized format.

    While I haven't finished the game, I have enjoyed what I have played however. I probably wouldn't bother to sit down at my PC or Mac and play this, but the format seems perfectly suited to iPad. just a shame about the performance. Telltale need to sort out their engine, and their approach to optimization. Maybe switch to the Unreal engine, which has proved to be capable of rendering this kind of quality scene without killing the device. I really hope they manage to sort this out before Walking Dead & Fables.

    I do somewhat disagree that the game is unplayable. If you really want to play it, you can on the iPad2, you just have to be very patient and forgiving. I wouldn't recommend it, however, despite how good the actual game is.

    • Anonymous

      Seriously if they do the Walking dead with these type of puzzles I will be even more disappointed. Is this version the same on the PC and PS3? Or did they do this type of game just for the Ipad and the other versions are real puzzle based/adventure exploration type games?

      • http://twitter.com/grumblechris Chris Morley

        This game is the same game as on the PC, PS3, Mac etc (with graphical and input differences). This is a bit of a departure from Telltale's regular point-and-click adventure style games, and I think this works well here... It's very on-the-rails, but as Infinity Blade proves, that doesn't mean it's not a good game. The cutscenes and atmosphere are generally very engrossing. It is good to see telltale doing new things I guess, just with they'd polish it more. It feels like an Alpha release.

  • Anonymous

    I think it was pretty brave for the reviewer to point out these issues.  There is way too much ass kissing in this industry, and I'm tired of seeing 3 and 4 star reviews for mediocre or outright crappy games.  If nobody points out flaws, the games will never get better.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YSYYB7PKCRIMLNBDJNUTEMWSAQ Steve

    It's not Telltales fault though, it's the horrible ipad 2's fault.  At least that's what they will blame, they did that with their sluggish Wii games also.

  • http://about.me/davidlnguyen David Nguyen

    sigh. I was looking forward to buying this game after seeing the trailer on gametrailers.com but I'm really glad I saw this review first. I really did think that Telltale got their act together and finally made a good iPad optimized game. Otherwise why would they even bother if they don't feel the technology is there yet to make good tablet games?

  • http://twitter.com/Kirkenjerk Ryeley Kuykendall

    This review is so super biased and the reviewer probably doesn't even own an iPad 2. He most likely played this on an iPad1 of iPhone 4. You should stop taking Telltales competitors money to trash their games and review the game for how good it is. This runs great on my iPhone 4S and iPad 2 so you shouldn't be lying like you are right now. This further supports the idea that you guys steal money from other devs to write crappy reviews.

  • http://twitter.com/SublimeLabs Timothy R.

    It's a shame, because Telltale games are so much fun. Real shame that few of their ports work well on the iDevices. Jurassic Park seemed pretty tricky to get on the iPad anyway, considering the type of game it is.

Jurassic Park: The Game 1 HD Reviewed by Brad Nicholson on . Rating: 2