I really can’t decide what the best part of this game is. It comes down to either the animated intros to each of the dinosaurs/humans you play as (which are super cool and well-done), or the DreamWorks logo in the beginning, where the little boy on the moon says, “I got something!” and is then pulled off the moon to the sounds of hungry Velociraptors. Unfortunately, a game cannot stand on presentation alone, and the gameplay is definitely where this game falls apart.
Let me just say that I love dinosaurs—particularly, vicious, carnivorous ones—and was very excited to have the opportunity to play as the Velociraptor. In this game, you also play as the Compsognathus, Human Hunter, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Human Prey. The dinosaur levels appealed to me more, and I spent more time trying to beat them. This, unfortunately, soon proved to be an exercise in futility. While I do not doubt that it is possible to beat this game, it’s entirely too difficult, and the game is heavily hampered by crappy controls.
You start out playing as the Compy, a chicken-sized dinosaur that is really cute but doesn’t really have that much going for it. At first I enjoyed jumping around and fighting other little dinosaurs, but soon got irritated with all the jumping from platform to platform, which was made more difficult by the fact that the controls are too loose, and a fall usually means instant death. The Compy has the most levels associated with it, which could be disappointing to those people who are really looking forward to playing as the T-rex (who gets about half as many levels as the compy).
Both human characters play similarly. You basically run away from and shoot dinosaurs with a variety of guns, and you will probably die a lot. Well, hey, that’s pretty much the norm for this game, so why should you expect anything else? Besides, humans are soft and probably wouldn’t stand up to dinosaurs that well anyway.
The T-rex, which could have been really cool to play with, ends up sucking, mostly due to the fact that the Tyrannosaurus controls more like a bus than anything else. It lumbers slowly forward, is sluggish when attacking, and takes forever to turn. Now, really, this is probably pretty accurate. I don’t think the rex was very fast in reality, but I’m also pretty sure that, if it were in the middle of turning around, and a raptor or something attacked it, it wouldn’t stop turning and go back to the starting position. This particular bug, coupled with the fact that each raptor attack does about a quarter of your life in damage, makes the whole T-rex experience dissatisfying. The best thing about the tyrannosaur is that you can make it roar, which is cool, and you can also make it eat people and throw them around and stuff. Not too bad.
What pissed me off the most, however, was playing as the raptor. This is probably because it is entirely too easy to die. The first raptor level is basically an escape from some sort of warehouse or something. You fight a lot of people, which is all well and good until they start shooting nerve gas at you. If you should happen to get hit with the nerve gas, unless you are really lucky, you will be frozen in place and quickly killed. Since the gas does damage AND freezes you just long enough for it to do more damage and freeze you again, it’s virtually impossible to escape. The other raptor levels are also quite hard, but this one stands out in my mind as the one that made me hate this game. On the plus side, the raptor is pretty fun to play when you aren’t being insta-killed by green gas. You can make the cool raptor bark-cough sound, and jump on people and eat them to regain health.
As mentioned before, the game has cool animated intros to each character. It also boasts quite good graphics, with generally well-done models. There’s a decent variety in the enemies you face, although all the enemies of a type look identical. The game is mostly 2D with some parts that are 3D, which leads to another problem: it can be confusing to see where the branch points are. Of course, many of them lead to secrets or extra lives and such, so I guess it’s okay to make it sort of hard. The dinosaur animations are well done.
Also worth noting are the sound effects. They are pretty much directly taken from the movie, making them good quality but somewhat repetitive. The dinosaurs make some good sounds, especially the raptor and Tyrannosaurus. The humans, on the other hand, shout out only a couple different lines, basically variations on “Holy crap, it is a raptor!” or “I am dying!” This gets old when you are forced to slaughter them over and over again after being nerve-gassed to death. At first it was fun, but then it got old. The music is forgettable: neither particularly good nor particularly bad, it generally fades into the background. I’m pretty sure it might also be ripped directly from the movie.
Overall, this game is fun for a little while but gets old really fast. The magic of cheat codes and passwords prolongs the fun, as you are able to play any level you want. Unless you are totally hardcore and obsessive, you’ll probably get sick of it long before you come close to beating it. Still, it is not entirely without merit: it is fun to play as dinosaurs and kill people, for a while, and there are always those awesome animated intros.