Lost World: Jurassic Park
It's inevitable. If a movie is wildly successful, a video game is likely to follow. And with the success of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, the game has followed closely on its heels. But the game comes with a twist: Instead of being the human, as in most games, you get to play most of the game as a dinosaur, testing your skills as a T-Rex, Velociraptor, Compy, and human. Thirty-one levels are available—if you have what it takes to make it through alive.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park is a combination side scroller and shooter depending on the level you are playing. The graphics and sounds look like they're straight out of the movie. The concept is cool and original. And this is the first PSX title from DreamWorks Interactive. But there's another twist: there is one word that best describes Lost World and it starts with an F. No, unfortunately the word is not "fun" but rather "frustrating." I have never been so frustrated while playing a game as I was while attempting to play this. The controls are so lose and unforgiving that you will find yourself plummeting to your death quite frequently. Even simple tasks like jumping from one platform to the next becomes an unwanted challenge. This may sound a little harsh and unforgiving, but it is accurate.
I really wanted to like Lost World, so let's start with some positives. The type of gameplay changes depending on which character you are using. The character you are using is predetermined by the level so you don't have the option of choosing characters. In the beginning of the game, you play as a Compy. These early levels are your basic side-scrolling platform type levels. You guide you little dino through out the jungle, battling to stay alive. But the first level of the game is where you are introduced to Mr. Control Problem. You must jump from platform to platform in order to climb your way out of a cavern. This is typical stuff—except for the fact that half the time you hit the jump button, nothing happens and each platform feels as if it is covered by a layer of ice. There is nothing more frustrating to me than to know exactly what to do and how to do it, but not be able to because of poor controls.
If you manage to make it through level one, you get to play as the human. This was one of the better levels of the game. You are out to hunt the dinosaurs, and you are armed with various weapons, depending on what you find scattered throughout the game. You have access to tranquilizer darts, grenades, nerve gas, and a flame thrower. These levels had a Tomb Raider feel to them without the freedom to explore everywhere. One cool thing you had was called a Piton. This was basically a grappling hook that you could shoot up into rocks and swing to reach higher platforms, ala Batman. Of course you have to watch out for the stalagtites hanging down from the rocks or else you will have a spike lodged into your midsection.
After the human level, you play the Velociraptor. This dino has great leaping abilities and some serious claws. You will battle your way against humans trying to stop you. Of course, after you have killed one them, you can treat yourself to a McHuman to help restore your life. The best part about the Velociraptor was their raking attack. You would knock a human down and rake away with your sharp claws... the human is screaming for help, usually to no avail. I know this sounds demented, but it is actually nice to see someone actually taking on the humans instead of saving them.
Then, you have the T-Rex level. This level allows you to play as the baddest dino in all of the land. You can smash through obstacles, jump, roar, and eat everything alive that is stupid enough to cross your path. It was amazing how many other dinos would challenge you, but I will say that it was true to the movie. The Velociraptors would always hunt in packs. They circled you, and while you were scarfing one, another would attack from a different direction. But there is nothing like picking smaller dinosaurs out of the air with your mouth as they try to attack you. Playing Lost World as the T-Rex (and making him do his T-Rex roar) was very cool.
The game does have its moments that give a glimpse of what could have (and should have) been. The whole concept is an excellent idea. I like the fact that you are not thrown into the human-save-the-world-role. It was refreshing to actually play as dinosaurs because this opened up new ideas that you couldn't do with humans. For instance, you are armed only with your body (mouth included). The best part is, after a fight, you eat your slain opponent to give yourself a health increase.
Another cool thing that gives a glimpse of the game's potential: each level has a DNA key. If you find all of the DNA keys in each level, you will be treated to a special ending. Great. The only problem? The DNA keys are usually not located on the pathway. This forces you to go explore. That causes a dilemma. Do you want to risk exploring and falling off a ledge by no fault of your own or do you want to just make it to the end so you can go on? That is a question you will have to answer yourself once you start playing. But if you're like me the answer will become quite clear: screw the DNA.
Another flash of what should have been is the level graphics and design . I could not wait to see what the next level would look like. The whole environment was very well done and on the levels that you did not have to scale platforms I found myself getting into the game. Every noise in the bushes made me jump and wonder what was coming after me now. Unfortunately, there were just not enough of these moments around.
It is such a shame that with graphics this good, the gameplay could not have been better. If it were, we could have been talking "game of the year." Unfortunately, many people will not be around long enough to really appreciate the graphics in this game. You can tell that great pains were taken to ensure that the graphics were movie-quality and believable. I found myself sitting back surveying the scenery and enjoying it far more than playing.
The dinosaurs were all incredibly drawn. Each and every one looked awesome. Sure, you won't be as startled by the graphics as the movies, but as far as game graphics go, these are some of the best I have seen. The T-Rex is huge and detailed, and the game never misses a beat even when there are multiple enemies on the screen at the same time. Overall, the graphics are the saving grace of the game.
I really wanted to like this game. It had all of the ingredients to be a winner. Unfortunately, the terrible control problem made the game more frustrating than fun. It is really too bad because I think a lot of people are going to miss some of the best graphics around. I guess the lesson here is that graphics don't guarantee the game. You will enjoy the different environments and the ability to play as different characters. Hopefully, Dreamworks Interactive will learn from their mistakes and release a sequel that addresses the control issues. I would really like to see this type of game work.