Worse Jurassic Park Game? Telltale's or Trespasser?

Having recently played Jurassic Park Trespasser, I've been thinking a lot about Spielberg's semi-cursed history with video games and especially about Jurassic Park's role in that.

To his credit, Spielberg as involved with the early Medal of Honor games and Boom Blox (one of the best Wii games in my opinion) but almost everything else he has touched, especially movie promotion games have been terrible.

It all starts with E.T., for which he personally chose Howard Scott Warshaw, the creator of Yar's Revenge (still thought of as one of the best Atari games ever), but the studio only gave him 6 weeks to complete the game. After a lot of hyped marketing, the result was considered one of the worst flops in game history, even singled out as one of the primary reasons for the 1983 video game crash that, if it wasn't for the NES 2 years later, nearly destroyed the entire console industry. Today, thanks to the internet, most people know the story of E.T. and the mythical Atari cart landfill but Spielberg eventually had another flop that, while it didn't threaten to take an entire industry with it, seems bigger in some ways.

A decade and a half later came the second Jurassic Park movie. Both movies spawned a few average-quality console side scrollers, an arcade lightgun shooter and even a Primal Rage-style fighting game, but when Spielberg and Dreamworks decided to make a PC game they again targeted top-shelf talent by recruiting Looking Glass employees who had worked on System Shock and Thief to do somethig different. They put Seamus Blackley in charge, a physics grad who had worked at Fermilab in the early 90s and handled the physics engine for Flight Unlimited (and later convinced Microsoft to go into the console business). The team hyped the game as a living ecosystem full of realistic physics puzzles and super-advanced AI, but when the final product was released, it was savaged by critics almost as brutally as E.T. had been.

The game turned out to be ugly, awkward, bug-riddled and--due to memory constraints and bad planning--seriously lacking in dinosaurs, but even with all its faults, you can't call Trespasser unambitious. Years before Half-Life 2 this was THE physics game (and a big influence on Half-Life 2). Before Far Cry it was completely set outside on an island. It was also one of the first games to completely do away with the HUD. Honestly, for most people who hadn't played System Shock and Ultima Underworld at this point, the height of game world interaction was probably flushing toilets in Duke Nukem.

In 2005, Spielberg tried again with the Looking Glass guys one more time, getting Doug Church and a few others to work on his secret EA project LMNO. This might have been promising, but probably not, because the project was scrapped after 5 years of work.

I think of all the Jurassic Park games I've played, the best is Operation Genesis, a theme park sim for the PS2 that came out of nowhere, years after the last movie in the series was released. Now there's Telltale's new adventure, which looks like the biggest misstep the company's ever made, but I'm wondering just how bad it really is and if anyone has played both the new game and Trespasser can comment on which one is really the bigger disappointment.

I played the first Part of the Walking Dead and thought it was excellent. It's too bad that Telltale's Jurassic Park game seems like the test subject that taught them what not to do with this kind of game. I'm sure even they are wishing that they could go back and apply those lessons to fixing it.

On a similar note, I think a really good remake of Trespasser could be made with current tech. Some kind of combination of Crysis's island detail, Amnesia's physics and Dinosaur AI on the level of Stalker or FEAR seems to me like it could make for a pretty incredible game.

Edit: the Angry Video Game Nerd has some pretty good coverage of the old console JP games, just skip to 8:56 if you don't want to see Jaws and Hook for the NES--

19 Comments
20 Comments
Edited by oraknabo

Having recently played Jurassic Park Trespasser, I've been thinking a lot about Spielberg's semi-cursed history with video games and especially about Jurassic Park's role in that.

To his credit, Spielberg as involved with the early Medal of Honor games and Boom Blox (one of the best Wii games in my opinion) but almost everything else he has touched, especially movie promotion games have been terrible.

It all starts with E.T., for which he personally chose Howard Scott Warshaw, the creator of Yar's Revenge (still thought of as one of the best Atari games ever), but the studio only gave him 6 weeks to complete the game. After a lot of hyped marketing, the result was considered one of the worst flops in game history, even singled out as one of the primary reasons for the 1983 video game crash that, if it wasn't for the NES 2 years later, nearly destroyed the entire console industry. Today, thanks to the internet, most people know the story of E.T. and the mythical Atari cart landfill but Spielberg eventually had another flop that, while it didn't threaten to take an entire industry with it, seems bigger in some ways.

A decade and a half later came the second Jurassic Park movie. Both movies spawned a few average-quality console side scrollers, an arcade lightgun shooter and even a Primal Rage-style fighting game, but when Spielberg and Dreamworks decided to make a PC game they again targeted top-shelf talent by recruiting Looking Glass employees who had worked on System Shock and Thief to do somethig different. They put Seamus Blackley in charge, a physics grad who had worked at Fermilab in the early 90s and handled the physics engine for Flight Unlimited (and later convinced Microsoft to go into the console business). The team hyped the game as a living ecosystem full of realistic physics puzzles and super-advanced AI, but when the final product was released, it was savaged by critics almost as brutally as E.T. had been.

The game turned out to be ugly, awkward, bug-riddled and--due to memory constraints and bad planning--seriously lacking in dinosaurs, but even with all its faults, you can't call Trespasser unambitious. Years before Half-Life 2 this was THE physics game (and a big influence on Half-Life 2). Before Far Cry it was completely set outside on an island. It was also one of the first games to completely do away with the HUD. Honestly, for most people who hadn't played System Shock and Ultima Underworld at this point, the height of game world interaction was probably flushing toilets in Duke Nukem.

In 2005, Spielberg tried again with the Looking Glass guys one more time, getting Doug Church and a few others to work on his secret EA project LMNO. This might have been promising, but probably not, because the project was scrapped after 5 years of work.

I think of all the Jurassic Park games I've played, the best is Operation Genesis, a theme park sim for the PS2 that came out of nowhere, years after the last movie in the series was released. Now there's Telltale's new adventure, which looks like the biggest misstep the company's ever made, but I'm wondering just how bad it really is and if anyone has played both the new game and Trespasser can comment on which one is really the bigger disappointment.

I played the first Part of the Walking Dead and thought it was excellent. It's too bad that Telltale's Jurassic Park game seems like the test subject that taught them what not to do with this kind of game. I'm sure even they are wishing that they could go back and apply those lessons to fixing it.

On a similar note, I think a really good remake of Trespasser could be made with current tech. Some kind of combination of Crysis's island detail, Amnesia's physics and Dinosaur AI on the level of Stalker or FEAR seems to me like it could make for a pretty incredible game.

Edit: the Angry Video Game Nerd has some pretty good coverage of the old console JP games, just skip to 8:56 if you don't want to see Jaws and Hook for the NES--

Posted by yoshisaur

Having recently played through Telltale's Jurassic Park, I thought it wasn't that bad of a game. If you compare to it to the new Walking Dead, then there will be a slew of negatives. I enjoyed most of what I got from the game, but can understand the reasoning behind peoples disappointment with it. Also, never played Trespasser so I'm not sure my opinion holds much weight here; Just wanted to be that guy who actually enjoyed Telltale's rendition for what it was.

PS: If Telltale redid the Jurassic Park game in the Walking Dead's engine... yum.

Posted by bobafettjm

I haven't played either of those games, but I loved the original one for the SNES.

Posted by Skald

Everything about Trespasser is amazing, up until you actually play Trespasser.

Edited by Village_Guy

Telltales Jurassic Park are worse simply because it sucks to play and it sucks to watch. While Trespasser sucks to play and is great to watch.

EDIT: A 1000 posts! Woo!

Posted by Svenzon

There's a lot wrong with Trespasser, but at least they tried with that one. It was too ambitious for its own good, which is a lot more than you can say about Telltale's game.

Edited by oraknabo

@bobafettjm said:

I haven't played either of those games, but I loved the original one for the SNES.

I knew about the NES top-down game, but had never seen the SNES version with its Wolfenestein 3D mode. I'll have to hunt down a copy of that one. I think I have one of the Genesis ones around here somewhere.

After watching the video, I think the 3DO game easily takes the prize for worst JP game.

Posted by TheHBK

Tresspasser was way way ahead of its time with physics and an open world concept. Had gameplay and control flaws like the way the hand moved and how there was hardly any ammo. THe graphics were ahead of their time too. Had it come out when the tech was there, things could be different. But Telltale's game has no excuse. They know how to make an adventure game and to come out with that. Ugh. At least Tresspasser still had years of FPS development ahead of it. It had physics puzzles! That shit wouldn't be used well until Half Life 2 came out 6 years later.

Posted by bobafettjm

@oraknabo: Actually the top down game and the first person one are the same game. Once you get into a certain building it turns into the first person view.

Posted by oraknabo

@bobafettjm: I was referring to the original NES one without the 3D stuff, but it looks like the SNES one is a remake and the 3D makes it a lot more interesting.

------------------------------

I'll admit to not knowing very much about LMNO (which I mentioned in the original post), but last night I read a really fascinating article about it from 1UP about it. We'll never know the full story until the NDAs run out, but until then this is probably as good a look into it as anyone that wasn't involved is going to get. One thing I was wrong about is that it looks like Doug church (and Arkane Studios!) were only on it for a little more than 2 years, then EA execs laid them all off and hired a bunch of other guys to make it into an uncharted rip off and redesign the alien girl to look like Megan Fox. Of course, that also got canned at the end of the 5 years.

Posted by CptBedlam

Uhm, I liked Trespasser despite its many flaws.

Posted by nintendoeats

@Skald said:

Everything about Trespasser is amazing, up until you actually play Trespasser.

Yes, this is exactly right.

Though actually, you can still PLAY Trespasser. It's not easy, but it is possible to occasionally have a good time. Using the shotgun against velociraptors is enjoyable at times.

Posted by believer258
A decade and a half later came the second Jurassic Park movie.

Huh? The first Jurassic park movie was 1993, the second was 1997.

Posted by Deathmachine117

Is this thread implying that Trespasser was bad ? This simply will not do !

Posted by Welding

Hey man, tresspasser was amazing.

Picking stuff up and looking at my own breasts to check my lifebar blew my teenage mind.

Posted by oraknabo

@believer258: After E.T.

Posted by connerthekewlkid

@oraknabo: have you heard of a little game called primal carnage?

Posted by Ravenlight

@connerthekewlkid said:

The frame that vid is on before you click Play makes it look like that dinosaur is wearing a bowler hat.

Posted by believer258

@oraknabo said:

@believer258: After E.T.

Oh.

Well, that's cleared up.

Edited by oraknabo

@connerthekewlkid: Looks OK, but more along the lines of Turok than a "living AI ecosytem"