- The Washington Times - Monday, November 28, 2011

Welcome back to Isla Nublar, the site of the famed research facility that brought dinosaurs to life in a “friendly” theme park environment.

Well, thanks to the famed movie franchise and Jurassic Park: The Game, Episode 1 (Telltale Games, rated 12+, $6.99), we all know how the dream of InGen CEO and bioengineering entrepreneur John Hammond turned into a nightmare. This animated challenge is the first of a four-episode story arc that offers a viewer an interactive adventure tied to the original film.

The game, which is broken into 12 chapters called scenarios, is set right about the time computer nerd Dennis Nedry (“Seinfeld’s” Newman) meets his grisly demise while trying to steal dino DNA by hiding it in a shaving cream can.

So with the power mostly out at the park, viewers orchestrate the fates of the soon-to-be-badly-injured female smuggler Nima Cruz, Jurassic Park’s chief veterinarian Gerry Harding and his daughter, Jess, as they fight to survive against a dilophosaurus, a noise-sensitive triceratops and a mighty tyrannosaurus rex.

OK, using “game” in the title is a bit misleading, as this cinematic exploration requires that a player direct characters through scenes by making camera choices (such as clicking on a magnifying glass for a closeup or choosing from among three perspectives of a location) and solving an environmental or even a verbal puzzle rather than be fully in control in the third-person action sense.

Normally, I would be looking for a rocket launcher or some other source of firepower near ammunition crates to take down the massive predators.

In this virtual world, I am relegated to matching swipes and tapping on the screen with my finger to have the character cut through brush with a machete, duck under a tail, load a tranquiller gun, finesse dials to tune a radio or click on the right Spanish words to complete a conversation.

Fans of the movies will love the faithful re-creation of the Jurassic Park world, including journal entries discussing the prehistoric stars and hacking Nedry’s computer system to unlock the robotic cars that were supposed to shepherd visitors around the island.

They also will want to pop on headphones to appreciate the booming dinosaur roars, the familiar John Williams musical score and suspense-building sounds of a rainstorm set in a jungle.

The bad news is the game engine’s occasional frame stutters and load freezes completely destroyed some potentially amazing moments, including a nail-biting escape intertwined with a pair of Jurassic legends in mid-battle.

Committed viewers will easily rip though the episode in less time than it would take to watch the first movie. I died 22 times and still managed to finish in around 90 minutes.

Parents should know that mistakes made when ducking the dinosaurs leads to a quick death scene with a creature’s massive jaws biting down on a protagonist.

Also, remember, this is only the first episode. Prepare to open the wallet three more times at $6.99 a pop to experience the full rebirth of Jurassic Park.