E3 2011: Jurassic Park preview – putting the action back into adventure games

Adventure game die-hards Telltale rolled out a new demo build of Jurassic Park for this year’s E3, giving us a little more insight into the connection between the film and game. For all intents and purposes, the game is a point-and-click adventure game without the point-and-click mechanics, taking elements of Heavy Rain’s contextual actions and seamlessly blending them with a sprinkling of quick-time events, practical puzzle solving and picture-in-picture navigation. And of course, there are dinosaurs, which is damn near all we need to know.

The new demo follows Nima, a survivalist we saw in a previous demo suffering some sort of injury in the back of another character’s jeep. It’s revealed that Nima is a corporate saboteur working for Dodson, who fans of the film will remember was responsible for giving Dennis Nedry the now-iconic shaving cream canister to smuggle the dinosaur embryos from off Isla Nublar. Taking place not long after Nedry’s disappearance, Nima and her partner, Miles, are on a mission to recover the canister.

The action takes places at the scene of Nedry’s death, around his abandoned jeep. After climbing up the hill where the vehicle is parked, Nima opens the door and is knocked down by a dinosaur that scurries off before she realizes what’s going on—no one has told her there were dinosaurs on this island. She finds Nedry’s body in the jeep, face still covered with blinding toxin, and the interface enables several points of interaction searching inside the vehicle.

Finding nothing much of interest, Nima adjusts the lights on the jeep to illuminate a dark area of the jungle. Jurassic Park is undoubtedly Telltale’s most cinematic game to date, and when the light hits the darkened jungle floor, another dinosaur quickly darts out of sight. Nima is also a highly skilled tracker, and quickly figures out that Nedry must have dropped the canister from the top of the hill.

Rejoining Miles, who has been waiting for Nima on the jungle floor this whole time, Nima is able to quickly locate the Barbasol canister. Unfortunately, Miles gets hit square in the face by a dilophosaurus’ toxic spit, although his glasses save him from blindness. Before long a whole pack of dilophosaurus that have been waiting in the dense jungle overgrowth reveal themselves and surround Nima and Miles.

Miles starts freaking out; the player, meanwhile, is given the option of what course of action to take through a conversation wheel, as Nima directs Miles to create a diversion. Here Telltale points that in the tradition of the film, the corporate douchebag always meets an untimely end—the selfish Miles pushes Nima to the ground in an attempt to save himself. It doesn’t work.

Much as the original JP demo ended with one character trying to avoid a tussle between a mother Triceratops and a Tyrannosaurus, the rest of Nima’s harrowing encounter is all dictated through QTE-style action. Desperately avoiding the attacks of a number of spitters, she races to get the jeep running again and escape before she suffers the same fate as Miles.

The demo ends with Nima getting attacked by a new, unknown dinosaur that hasn’t been in films, and whose poisonous bite apparently causes hallucinations and eventually puts its victim in a waking coma. Though the QTEs are still very much a part of Telltale’s Jurassic Park experience, the balance between other adventure game elements—namely exploration and puzzle-solving—seems to be intact as JP gets closer to release. We’re looking forward to seeing just how this story plays out when it hits PS3, Xbox 360 and PC this fall.

Jun 16, 2011

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