Tag Archives: Jurassic Park

2015 Game Review Haiku, #50 – LEGO Jurassic World (Nintendo 3DS)

LEGO® Jurassic World™_20150402175119

Dinosaurs and man
The lack of humility
Big ideas, small game

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

Decided not to endorse LEGO Jurassic World on the Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3DS LEGO Jurassic World impressions

In July, I went on vacation to Walt Disney World and knew that I was going to hate the plane ride to Florida–mind you, only a two-hour plane ride at most, but two hours of hate hate hate–and thought that perhaps playing a new videogame set in a beloved franchise about terrible lizards while miles high in the air would help distract me from the fact that I was miles high in the air. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to focus too much on LEGO Jurassic World on my Nintendo 3DS due to nerves and that infrequent turbulence. Since then, I’ve dabbled at it and have, after some consideration, decided not to endorse any further LEGO videogame iterations on handheld consoles. Yup, all that build-up…for a stupid quote tie-in.

Before I truly get into it, I have tried out a few other LEGO games on my Nintendo 3DS in the past, which is a fantastic system, but one not built for the scope of these stud-collecting, brick-building adventures. LEGO Lord of the Rings for the handheld seemed fine, much better than LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes. Regardless, I was hoping by now that the different iterations on consoles and handhelds would be much more similar; alas, that is not the case, as LEGO Jurassic World feels like ten percent of what one could experience–and enjoy–on a home console, which is where I do like playing these games.

Everything is smaller, more streamlined. One might say that’s a good thing, considering that, for many, the point of the Nintendo 3DS and its ilk is for bite-size action, enough to kill a bus or train ride to work by keeping your head down and not having to speak to another human soul. However, several of the levels in LEGO Jurassic World are auto-scrollers, with someone either running or driving towards the screen, and they are finishable in under a minute or so if you don’t stumble over too many obstacles. That just doesn’t seem right, like the moment when you learn that InGen’s scientists are playing god and denying dinosaurs hormones that determine their gender. The remainder of the traditional levels are extremely linear, with little-to-no chance for exploration and discovery; also, so long as you punch and break every LEGO object along the way, you are nearly guaranteed to earn the “True Survivor” challenge, which asks you to collect a specific number of studs.

On more than one occasion, a puzzle in a LEGO videogame would bring everything to a halt. Either I wouldn’t be able to figure out what person or special ability to use to advance or missed a teeny tiny detail earlier in the level. Here, on the portable LEGO Jurassic World, there’s never been a glimpse of such roadblocks. You go into a level with only so many characters, and if you try to use something that is not for your specific ability, the game tells you who is needed right away. There’s been a few boss fights against velociraptors and the T-Rex, which boil down to quick time events.

There’s also terribly long load times in LEGO Jurassic World. I feel like it’s been ages since a load time–on a modern device–has been tedious enough to warrant complaining. I mean, this is a much smaller game, with shorter levels and less to do in each one. Why does it take over a minute to move from the visitor’s center to the outside? Or even back to the main menu? Believe it or not, but this waiting is extremely off-putting, especially when all you really want to do is get into the thick of things, collect some studs, and see some dinosaurs. Here’s how bad it is; once I finish going through all the levels for all four major film titles, I will consider the game done and take it out of my Nintendo 3DS. Yes, in a rare twist, I will not be replaying any of this game to get all the collectibles or red bricks or what-have-yous–it’s just not worth it, especially when I know that I’ll eventually get to play all of this again, but on a grander scale, with Achievements to boot.

Even though this iteration is kind of a tiny pile of dino droppings, I still plan to get LEGO Jurassic World for the Xbox 360, but only after I finish it off here, in its stunted form, as well as after I get 100.0% completion rate in LEGO Marvel, which is not being played on a handheld console. Progress on that one is slow and sporadic, but we’ll get there in the end. There’s also this forthcoming LEGO Dimensions to think about too. Gah, too many LEGO games, not enough LEGO time to get it all LEGO done. Er, wait. I think I need to rest now.

The Walking Dead is a lot less game, but still fun

TWD Carver season 2 overall imps

I’m not really here to talk about the unfolding events of Telltale Games’ season two for The Walking Dead and what latest hole Clementine and company have dug for themselves this time. In short and without spoiling things, people get hurt, both by zombies and their fellow humans, and there’s traveling and dashed dreams and madman-inspired plans and–everyone’s favorite–many soul-crushing decisions, which you have to often make in a split second. Y’know, basically everything that was great from The Walking Dead‘s first season is back once more. Well…maybe not everything.

In this episodic adventure series’ first season, back when you controlled smart, encouraging Lee Everett, it was very much a traditional point-and-click experience, but on a console and with a focus for storytelling and action-heavy sequences. You still explored scenes, talked to people, collected clues and items for your inventory, and solved puzzles using those items on other things. However, over the first three episodes of season two, namely “All That Remains,” “A House Divided,” and “In Harm’s Way,” I’ve noticed the game losing most of those elements, turning into more of a linear product of pure interactive fiction than anything else. I still love it and have a blast deciding who is going to remember what, but it does kind of bum me out that there’s less to do creatively–and, for lack of a better word, videogamey–between big scenes. I mean, remember when you got to play detective with Duck and actually solve a mystery; those days are long gone, I’m afraid.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that The Walking Dead has now infected–yes, pun intended–every piece of technology capable of playing a videogame. Yup, talking about mobile devices like iPhones and iPads. You can clearly see the developers thinking about this subset of gamers, given how many more action scenes rely on “swiping” as a means of a quick time event instead of just button prompts. It’s a little weird using a controller to press down via the analog stick to have Clementine hide from an incoming zombie, but maybe it feels more effective on a touch-based device. That said, it’s now a game series of dialogue choices (good!) and QTEs (bad!) and backseat steering (very bad!), which probably works better on mobile devices than the places The Walking Dead was initially born.

Let me slightly spoil a section from the latest episode–“In Harm’s Way”–to get my point across about how stripped and, dare I say, dumbed down The Walking Dead is at this point. Gameplay-wise, people. Gameplay-wise. So, Clementine is sneaking into an office to turn on a PA system for…well, reasons. You get into the office via a cutscene, walk over to a desk and inspect the PA system with the press of a button. Upon a closer look, you can then press a switch to flip on the external speakers. You do that; there is no other way to try things, you only have one choice to move forward with the “puzzle.” Then you are told to turn on the mic, so you try, and it’s not working. A quick cutscene has Clem then following the power cords from the PA system over to the CD player, which you try to turn on, only to find out there is no CD in its tray. The camera then does this back and forth motion, as if searching, and you instantly see a CD right next to the CD player. Sigh. You click on the CD, and the puzzle, if you want to call it such a thing, is does. Your hand was held the entire time, and there weren’t even any options to try things differently or mess up. Like, all you had to do, Telltale Games, was hide the CD in the room, anywhere, and have Clem actually search for it.

Trust me when I say that I’m, without a doubt, finishing this second season of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead. I’m too invested in the story at this point, but knowing how much has changed with the gameplay bums me out enough to wonder that, if I have a mobile device capable of playing the probable, but not yet announced third season when it does drop in late 2015 or early 2016, I might just experience it there. True, I’ll be losing all of my choices I’ve made up to that mark, but what do choices matter in a world where you are no longer in control? Yes, Paul will remember that.

Also, I’m deeply worried about what Telltale Games is going to do with Game of Thrones. We all remember how Jurassic Park: The Game turned out, right?

The ending to Jurassic Park: The Game is a big pile of dino droppings

There are several problems with Jurassic Park: The Game, but none bigger than its ending, and I’m going to discuss it at length in this post, so if you don’t want to be spoiled beyond Spoiled City, get out now. Just go. Put in a VHS copy of the 1993 classic Jurassic Park, play with the tracking buttons, and then sit back, soak in, and be at peace. Trust me, you’re better off; I mean, I wish I wasn’t thinking about these things, but I am. And the only way to get rid of them is to dump them here.

::insert Tyrannosaurus Rex roar::

As the remaining survivors–Gerry Harding, Jess Harding, and Nima–race to reach the boat that can take them off Isla Nublar, a choice is presented, one that’s extremely easy to make: save Jess or save the Barbasol can of dinosaur embryos. If you go for the can, Nima dies. If you save Jess, the can is stomped flat, but everyone lives to see another day. The latter is deemed the “good ending” and was what I earned first, later going back to see what would happen if you tried to grab the can before Mean Ol’ Mr. T-Rex caught wind of your antics. Right. So, they all live and are motoring away on the escape boat as that familiar tune plays. Hooray. Except Nima is pretty downtrodden and not because her partner in crime Yoder got eaten: that Barbasol can represented a way to get her and her daughter into a new life, with food and security and all the things that a mother/daughter combo need to survive. Without it, she has nothing. Gerry promises her that he’ll do whatever he can to help the both of them, but before he can work out a plan, his daughter Jess interupts to inform them about a bag full of cash she just found.

And that’s where Jurassic Park: The Game ends. No, really. It’s that, followed by the boat scooting away into the sunset and a flock of Pterodactylus passing by overhead. Roll credits. Put the controller down.

Which means we–the viewer, the player, the puppet master–are left to interpretation. And the game seems to imply that Nima will take the money found on the boat. That Gerry Harding will totally be okay with Nima taking all that money, that it’s for a good cause. For the entirety of Jurassic Park: The Game, Harding has been constantly reminding his daughter that stealing is wrong and trying to teach her to be a wiser teenager, to make good, wholesome choices. To not smoke or talk back to elders or, y’know, steal stuff. And he did all of this while dinosaurs of varying sizes and skins tried to eat them. Good for him.

But here, at the end–and granted, he did just outrun a T-Rex–he says nothing about the bag of money. Nothing about going to InGen about what happened on the island and Dr. Sorkin or anything like that. Maybe he actually does. The scene cuts away after the literal money shot, and we don’t know what other conversations the trio have as they make their way home, but that’s the game’s fault. Again, it doesn’t tell us, and so we have to go off of what is presented, which is that Nima is going to get all the money, the money she was originally going to get anyway from stealing from InGen. If Harding lets Nima take the money, he is again approving of stealing, which I’m sure Jess would find contradictory.

It’s an atrocious piece of writing, that doesn’t make sense, but comes across as extremely unlikely and Hollywood-like. I’d rather have seen them sail away without a bag of money, happy to be alive, promising each other that they would get through whatever came next, especially considering what they just survived. Maybe even Nima would become a motherly figure to Jess since her parents were not going to work it out. Of, if anything, as a wink to the first film and a meta joke to the fact that Jurassic Park: The Game is in itself a wink to a throwaway plotline, Harding could’ve acknowledged the bag of money, zipped it up, and tossed it into the water–y’know, for someone else to find. As is, the game’s “good ending” is far from good.

And all of this makes me extra nervous about Telltale Games’ forthcoming The Walking Dead game. The only light there is that in a world overrun by zombies, a bag of money is pretty much useless.

Achievements of the Week – The Taking Sides with the Dragon Cube Hunter Edition

For those paying attention, I did not put together an Achievements of the Week post last Friday. And I totally could have. I unlocked a dino dropping size of them for Jurassic Park: The Game, which I completed rather quickly, as well a couple in that dragon-laden roleplaying game that never ends thanks to radiant quests and a landmass barely explored. But no one voiced any disappointment, so I guess this segment isn’t an actual weekly heroin fix for Grinding Down readers. Fine by me, really, as I was extremely stressed around then and disinterested in even hinting at why, and so I just played the games I had and kept blathering about their Achievements to a real minimum.

But I’m back. Got some good ones to share, too. So this edition will basically cover the last two weeks. Haven’t played much else on the Xbox 360 besides Jurassic Park: The Game and Skyrim, but I will be downloading Fez today during my lunch break so I might be able to sneak a few in from there, too.

Fez update: within forty-five minutes, I was able to unlock three–as well as had a blast spinning rooms and collecting bits of cube. Seriously, y’all need to check out Fez; it can be your weekend impulse buy! Looking forward to playing more.

Right. Let’s go then.

From The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim…

Taking Sides (10G): Join the Stormcloaks or the Imperial Army

Pssst. Pssst. Yeah, you. Don’t tell anyone…but I signed up with the Stormcloaks! Screw off, ya dirty Imperial.

Dragon Hunter (20G): Absorb 20 dragon souls

Oh yeah! Dragons have nothing on me now thanks to my enchanted Ebony Bow of Lethargy, a full quiver of glass arrows, and plenty of stamina-weakening potions to boot. More will fall from the sky; this, I promise.

From Fez…

Get a cube (10G): Cube GET!

Just starting out. Gotta collect 31 more…

For these next two Achievements, I won’t spoil anything specific, but to get ’em, one just needs to do some light reading of all the Achievement descriptions in Fez and follow through…

Achievement unlocked (15G): Unlocking achieved.

Equal and opposite (15G): Negative space.

From Jurassic Park: The Game…

Hmm. While reviewing the list of Achievements I’ve ultimately unlocked, I realized that several of them share the same artwork. Actually, a lot of them. Never noticed this before. How lame is that? It’s no longer 2006, game developers. Put some care and effort into the look of your unlockables, like BioWare and Bethesda do. That said, here’s the variety you’ll get, with the only differences being in the name of the Achievement and how many Gamerscore points it is worth:

Other than those, the only ones that are special and different are those based on individual dinosaur encounters and not making any mistakes while fighting Yoder. That’s it. The rest are rinsed, shampooed, and used again. That’s pretty disappointing, especially since some good work was done on the Achievement names, like Barbasolved, I Know How to Read a Schematic, and I Herd That.

But whatever. It was not the greatest game.


2012 Game Review Haiku, #10 – Jurassic Park: The Game

Push left to avoid
The Tyrannosaurus rex
Mash the A button

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

Achievements of the Week – The Jetpacker Leftovers from ytiC daeD Edition

Another week has come and gone, and I am here again, whipped into action and berated by the higher beings, to share some of my favorite Achievements from the last seven days with y’all. Just two games get the special attention this time around, but I am by my lonesome this week–not counting cats–as Tara is dog-sitting. Also, I am just about to finish up my 31 Lovingly Bad Love Comics challenge, which means…uh, more free time? I suspect I’ll play a bit of this and that over the next two days.

For now, these things.

From Rage…

Just a Flesh Wound (15G): Complete the final round of 5 Finger Filet

This is probably the hardest minigame in Rage. Remember when, bored in middle school, you would place your hand on your desk, spread those digits, and try to stab the spaces between with your pencil as fast as you could? 5 Finger Filet is that, but with a really sharp knife. The first four rounds are scripted and easy to memorize, but the fifth and final round is always random, always fast, and likes to put hit targets right next to each other, which one’s brain might not be able to see before it is too late. The best advice I can offer for those Ark survivors going after this is to…just relax. Don’t overthink it, and you’ll find yourself naturally stabbing at your hand without hitting a single finger in no time.

Jetpacker (20G): Kill an Authority Enforcer during Jetpack descent

ytiC daeD (10G): Complete Dead City Reverse in the Campaign

Hee, I like this one’s name. Maybe too much.

From Jurassic Park: The Game…

I mused a bit already about my early experience with returning to Isla Nublar, which already limelighted a few Achievements. Haven’t gotten to play any more yet, but here’s another one that is full of spoilers for Nedry fans everywhere:

Leftovers (10G): Found Nedry’s ID badge.