With all this DNA laying around, you'd think that O.J. killed the Dinosaurs...
We at Game Revolution have been bitching about games based on movies for a while now. From total stinkers like The Crow
and Batman Forever
to cheap-looking doosies like Independence Day
, games converted from movies are rarely good. The only exception that comes to mind is the recent beauty Goldeneye
. For the most part, movies and video games should be separated by a big fat line.
Of course, certain movies just scream, "Wouldn't I look AMAZING as a game? Someone, please come and make ME!" Well the folks at EA were listening when Spielberg's summer blockbuster started whining. Unfortunately, the astonishing graphics of The Lost World: Jurassic Park aren't enough to save it from utter mediocrity (sounds like a review of the movie, huh?).
The game is a side scrolling platformer, with a few twists to keep things moving. You control three different dinosaur species and two human characters through different parts of a big island. You must complete the levels for each character before you can play as the next one. The characters include a Compsognathus (Compy), a Velociraptor, a human hunter, a human prey (!), and El Diablo himself, a freakin' Tyrannosaurus Rex..
Before I go any further, I need to make one thing perfectly clear - these may very well be the best graphics I've ever seen on the PSX. The machine can handle polygons well, and the designers didn't hold back. The backgrounds are smooth and colorful, but pale in comparison to the creatures. The dinosaurs look incredibly lifelike - not that I've ever seen a real dinosaur (except for that one time), but I suppose they'd look much like they do in this game. They move with amazing fluidity and are gorgeously texture mapped. These are just some amazing graphics. Now on with the game...
The first level(s) put you in control of a Compy, a cute little chicken-sized predator. You basically jump around killing other dinosaurs, eating their carcasses for health, and trying to avoid death. This is no easy task, as the PSX version is HARD. If you fall more than a few feet, you take damage. Also, it seems as though some incredibly poisonous plant-life has sprouted up all over the place. If you happen to misjump and touch one of these deadly little bushes, you'll get a brutal cut. Between the falling and the plants, the gameplay becomes too much a matter of tiny specifics. There should be some way to kill off the plants, even if it takes off a little health. This is not a well-balanced game.
Other levels have other problems. The Velociraptor levels involve the same pattern of jumping on a bad guy, mauling him to death, and eating him, over and over again. This gets boring quickly, even if the raptor itself looks terrific.
The human levels play poorly as well, with loose controls and boring play. As the Hunter, you go around, well, hunting dinosaurs. You pick up different weapons along the way, and have a Piton at your disposal. The Piton is just a fancy grappling hook, but it's hard to use. You have to time it just right or you'll drag your legs into the very stalagmites you were trying to avoid. As Prey, you can use the same devices as the Hunter, but do more running away...
From what, you ask? Hehhehehehe...
The T-Rex. Wow. No, make that Double-Wow. The Tyrannosaurus in this game is one of the most amazing polygonal beasts ever. It moves with an eerie fluidity; you really feel the power of the creature. As the King you roam around eating people and killing dinos - you're basically a scaly wrecking ball. But while at first the T-Rex levels were fun, they got old pretty fast. I guess there's just so many humans you can eat in a day.
One thing common to every level is the search for DNA strands. Of course, these double helixes are rainbow colored (mmmm...fruit flavors!). If you get all the DNA strands for a certain species, you gain access to a Gallery of pictures. Whoo (oh, why bother. Just cheat like the rest of us...).
The sound is great, with music straight out of the movie. The background island sounds are good, and the roar of the T-Rex is super-cool.
There are two main problems with The Lost World: Jurassic Park. I already mentioned the difficulty, and I can't stress this enough. After playing for several hours, I still hadn't completed the Compy levels, and my urge to continue playing was quickly fading. Furthermore, there is no way to save your game. You get a Password if you manage to finish all the levels for a specific species, but there is no way to restart in the middle of, say, the Compy section. This kills the replay value because you have to go through the same levels over and over again just to get back to the last level you died on...
The other problem with the game lies in its design. At its best, this is just a graphically superior platform game, a left to right scroller. This genre hasn't been a major force for a while now, mainly because we've all grown bored with it. There just isn't enough stuff to do. You pretty much just run to the right trying to make it past the game, which, in effect, is the only reason to play through the levels: to see what's next.
I suppose the game matches the movie perfectly - superb graphics and fancy effects that can't overshadow the limited content and uninspired action. The funny thing is that I will still recommend this game as a rental. Playstation owners should experience these graphics first hand.. You just don't need to own it.