I remember very well. I was an addicted dinosaur lover as a kid and as this film Jurassic Park got into the theaters a dream came true. My parents had to smuggle me in, since I was younger and the movie itself got a 12+ rating. Sooner or later I lost that addiction – you know by yourself how that is as a kid. Anyways, I liked the film very well and I also enjoyed the sequel Lost World pretty much. There also should have been a video game, which should be released on the same day as the movie got premier. The games release got delayed and finally shipped in 1998. The year I picked it up. This gentleman, is the best dinosaur action game ever created. At least in my opinion, since it got only bad critics: Jurassic Park – Trespasser.
The plot takes place after the events of the second film: The only survivor of a plane crash, Anne, awakes on Isla Sorna. While she’s exploring the beach for a sign of civilization, she soon uncovers where she really is. Alone, with dinosaurs walking around without boundaries in a natural environment, InGen’s “Site B”. Her only chance to survive is to keep exploring the island, searching for help or at least a working telephone connected to the main land.
There actually is no user interface. Anne’s life is represented by a hollow tattoo in the shape of a heart located on her left breast. If its fully colored, she will die. To check the female protagonists current status requires to look down to the models very large designed breasts. It was planned to give the player the ability to control both of the player models arms, but due programing reasons the left arm had to be dropped – the manual explains this by telling the reader about Anne’s left arm being mortally wounded. But the right one still can pick up items of any kind, such as blanks, knives or chairs and wooden boxes. It looks very funny thought when the rubber-band arm glitches around, while the player is trying to allocate a crate to stack it on another. With the left mouse button, Anne extends her arm into the environment,while a right-click picks up the thing of the players desire. The arm then can be rotated with another button, which makes operating the arm even more difficult because of the large amount of buttons needed for any possible degree and rotation direction.
The game got promoted as evolution of first person 3D gaming, but disappointed in many aspects afterwards. It feels rushed and many features aren’t polished enough. The most amazing feature of the game still is the for its time, to a small degree available physics engine. If Anne throws a stone against a crate on a higher platform, then both objects drop down in a very realistic manor. The ground textures look very blurry because of their low quality, which sometimes results into the player suffering from motion sickness. At least the water is the finest you will ever see in a game of Trespassers age. The wide and large levels have an environment full of many trees, rocks and other structures, but many places still hold empty fields of nothingness. A simple trick reduces the drop of frame rate while viewing at objects on the horizon. Objects in the distance first get drawn as sprites and later exchanged with three dimensional counterparts. But this doesn’t always work and especially in fights against dinosaurs does the frame rate drop very bad.
The dinosaurs look very realistic, but once they start to move or yell, they get a comic touch with their movements and act pretty slow. Even the population of creatures is too small, but weapons laying around almost everywhere. The amount of bullets inside a gun will be commented by Anne with one liners like “About six shots” or “Never been used”. Aiming needs a precise mouse-hand because of the missing crossair. Smaller dinosaurs like Velociraptors can be killed with one or two exact head shots. Big dinosaurs instead have many healtpoints and many bullets are needed before these creatures hit the ground and stay dead. Weapons can’t be reloaded, forcing the player to search for another weapon with hopefully one or two bullets left that could save his protagonists life. During that time, Anne walks slower than a snail on a not rainy day and can be killed with ease while the player is trying to fumble around with the arm to pick up a gun. Actually, reaching places far away is a very time consuming venture. Sometimes running away from creatures just works fine too, since the dinosaurs give up very quick to follow your trail.
As the player progresses, Richard Attenborough reads lines from John Hammond’s memoirs to point out encountered locations in the environment, which helps the player to guess what to do next. Even Anne, voiced by Minnie Driver, explains her thoughts and feelings every time the player encounters a location of interest. She finds a dwell and takes a break commenting it with “Thats what I needed.” An atmosphere of desperation and loneliness follows the player through the entire game. Not much action driven music is used, but if then it fits perfectly to keep the player sane. Most of the time, the player walks, stacks crates to pass canyons, picks up weapons to shoot dinosaurs and investigates all sorts of structures, like abandoned shacks, InGen installations or shipwrecks.
In the past, I didn’t read any of the many worst critics the game got and just enjoyed playing it without to get angry of the many bugs and mysterious, sometimes unreal working physics. It was a great journey through the Jurassic Park universe written by Michael Crichton, with all that puzzles, survival horror elements even with too much firearms laying around, the comments from Anne, all the easter-eggs from the films and the lines from John Hammond’s memoirs. At least for me, and for the large and still existing fan & modbase, it is the best dinosaur action game of all time. Even Turok with it’s very small not existing field of view and endless white fog that blocked the sight on the horizon didn’t satisfied me as much as Jurassic Park: Trespasser did.