The last great Jurassic Park game we remember was the ginormous arcade machine shaped like an ATV. You’d step in with a buddy, grab a gun and kill as many dinos as you can before they clawed you to death. Simpler times.

Now comes the new ‘Jurassic Park,’ which takes a decidedly cerebral route. Instead of attempting to slaughter any terrible lizard that crosses your path, times have changed, and now we are one with the dinosaurs. Sometimes you shoot one of the cloned relics from 160 million years ago, sure, but only to buy yourself more time for an escape.

You’re also politely opening gates for a lost triceratops, distracting them with car lights and then tossing the tree branch past the gate so you can move along. In short, you’re doing a lot of boring stuff in between too-rare instances of awesome. Man, did we want to punch that triceratops in the face, jab him with a stick or sideswipe him with our vehicle in hopes of coaxing him into a car race.

Other fascinating activities the game sees fit to put you through include getting a guard’s number so you can prank call him and swipe his access card, fixing a car battery and looking through binoculars at free-range ancient quadripeds you can barely make out.

There are some fun moments, however, even if they’re barely related to what’s going on in the game. For instance, sometimes you’re scampering away from a pack of little dinosaurs with glowing eyes, and your survival depends on how quickly you can rotate your analog stick and press a series of seemingly randomly buttons when responding to on-screen prompts.

At least the developers were kind enough to include a scene in which you push a box of stuff on the dumbest, slowest tyrannosaur alive in order to bonk him on the head and rescue your daughter.

There are other redeeming moments, when the game reminds you of the source book and film rather than the fact that you’re stuck in a dull game.

The events parallel the first film, dispensing with the nonsense of the sequels. You’re basically the guy behind the guy, doing the slightly less interesting stuff  on Isla Nublar while the main characters are having more fun, like getting killed. For instance, you run into Nedry, played by Wayne Knight in the film — remember Newman from Seinfeld? — but disappointingly you don’t even get to talk to him. By the time you see him, he’s already been mauled by a dilophosaurus.

Did Nedry get off better than we did? Possibly, but let us assure you that despite all the hating, and despite the fact that we knew everything that was going to happen before it did, we kept on plunging forward. There’s something inherently fun about being stuck on a dino-occupied island, and some faulty design choices couldn’t screw it up too badly.

The new Jurassic Park may not be as great as that arcade shooter, but at least it’s no fossil.

RATING: 6/10

Jurassic Park ($40), was developed and published by Telltale Games and available on the PS3, Xbox 360 and computers. Rated T. The publisher provided a copy of the game for review.

Read Phil Villarreal’s blog at and follow him on Twitter: @philvillarreal


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