GDC 2015: LEGO Jurassic World Preview
I love the Jurassic Park franchise, and other than the movie tie-in game for the Sega Genesis back in the day, I haven’t really ever played a game based on the movies that I really enjoyed. Everything from the mobile park builder game to the TellTale adventure title didn’t really do it for me. What would it take to make a JP game that entertained me? Perhaps something coming from a completely different direction would do the trick.
This is where Lego Jurassic World comes in. If a serious JP game couldn’t get the job done, perhaps a Lego parody rife with comedy could do the trick. After all, even though the target audience for the Lego games are families and children, they are still incredibly entertaining, right? After enjoying the hell out of Lego Marvel Super Heroes, I would say yes.
Lego Jurassic World spans the entirety of all four JP movies: Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Jurassic Park III, and the upcoming Jurassic World. In the interest of not revealing any spoilers for the movie, my hands-on demo did not include any related to Jurassic World. Totally understandable, though a part of me was itching to find out SOMETHING, anything to do with the movie. Ah well…guess I’ll have to go see it like everyone else.
The demo began with the triceratops scene from Jurassic Park. Dr. Ellie Sattler and Dr. Gerry Harding are trying to figure out what made the triceratops sick, if you remember. You can switch between both characters, but as expected, each one has their own strengths that are needed to progress. Dr. Harding won’t go anywhere near the giant piles of dino poop, but Ellie not only has no issues with it, her Lego counterpart will dive completely into the pile. As expected, this drew more than its fair share of chuckles from those of us in attendance because let’s face it: poop stuff is always funny. As a paleobotanist, Ellie can dismantle certain shrubs and bushes to clear a path for the characters. As Harding, you have a gun where you can shoot objects loose; in the case of the demo, Harding was used to shoot a vine loose, which was then used for climbing. Our demo ended with me taking control of the triceratops once it has been healed. Yes, you can control the dinosaurs in the game and yes, it was awesome smashing things as the triceratops.
The next part of the demo took us to what is probably the most iconic scene of all of the JP movies: the T-Rex attack from the first film. In this level, you can take control of Dr. Alan Grant, Dr. Ian Malcolm, and Lex, once you rescue her from the overturned car. The voice actors sounded suspiciously like Sam Neil and Jeff Goldblum; I didn’t think to ask if the audio from the movie was used or if these were just brilliantly awesome impersonations. Even though this is a Lego game, this scene was just as tense and nerve-wracking as it was in the film, which is saying a lot. The level faithfully recreates major moments from the scene; from the cups of water, Gennaro being eaten in the porta-potty, all the way to Grant and Lex hanging on the cable with the car being thrown at them.
Of course this being a Lego game, it can’t be made to be TOO scary, so one of the more amusing things you can do in this level is build a squeaky toy to distract the T-Rex while you rescue Lex. The jump from scary and tense to funny can be a bit jarring, but I felt it was done in a good way and stayed not only true to the tone of the films, but also to the Lego franchise as well. Again, that’s no small feat considering the subject material.
Next we took on the T-Rex chase as Ellie, Harding, and Malcolm zipped away in the jeep with our T-Rex buddy chasing after them. The scene plays out with the T-Rex and jeep coming towards you in the TV, so lots of bushes, rocks, etc. will be hit, slowing you down and allowing the T-Rex to catch up. You can toss flares out to momentarily distract your dino pursuer, but to honest, I don’t think I ran into one instance where the T-Rex actually caught up to me. Maybe it’s just to make the game more acceptable for young children to exclude a gruesome death (by Lego standards). Regardless, the scene ended with the jeep narrowly escaping underneath the overturned tree, except this time around, the T-Rex hits the tree and folds over in a comedic manner.
The final playable level in the demo session was a scene from The Lost World where Malcolm and his daughter needed to escape the compound and make their way over to an InGen helicopter on a faraway platform. This sequence played closer to what I’m used to in a Lego game, with plenty of platforming, block building, and object smashing. Except this time around there are raptors to deal with. Nothing really new to report from this sequence other than the fact that it was a ton of fun to play, and it looked gorgeous.
While we’re on the subject of visuals, let me make this very clear: even though everything is “Lego-ified,” this is still a fantastically beautiful game to look at. We got to demo on the PS4, and the environments, weather effects, puddles, etc. all looked wonderful. That’s not even including the actual Lego characters, which look about as one might expect. I didn’t think I would go into a Lego game talking about how great the graphics were, but dammit, the game was pretty to look at.
A few other points that were mentioned during the presentation/demo to remember. There will be over 100 unlockable characters spanning over all four movies including Mr. DNA. Yes…Mr. DNA will be playable. In what capacity, I don’t know, but each level has a number of collectable amber Lego bricks to find, which then unlock new dinos. In addition to unlocking dinosaurs, you can also customize dinos in a variety of ways for your enjoyment there will be a number of vehicles in the game, including the iconic jeeps.
The Lego series seems to be one of the few video game franchises that continuously churns out quality games. Even though they are targeted towards kids and families, the series seems to also have a nice cult following amongst the core gamers as well. And why shouldn’t it? It’s fun, quirky, funny, an excellent platformer, and takes on some of the most beloved franchises in film history. We’ve had Star Wars, Harry Potter, the Marvel Universe, Indiana Jones, and now Jurassic Park. As far as covering pop culture icons, I’d say Lego has us covered. Make sure to stay tuned for our review of Lego Jurassic World!