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Category Archives: Telltale

I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!

Amount Played for Review: 1 case (out of 7); ~90 minutes
Platform: PC (Steam)

Originally released as an iOS title, the first 3 episodes of Telltale’s Law & Order game have recently been ported on PC, with the rest coming soon.

The game features a dream team of Law and Order characters, past and present, across all the series, and follows the structure of the series very closely. Gameplay, however, is a bit simplistic, though that’s somewhat to be expected given it’s originally an iOS title.

Like the show, each case is broken down into two segments; a detective mode and a prosecutor mode. They both have similar basic mechanics, but also play slightly differently. During the Detective mode, you interview persons of interest through a dialog tree system that is very reminiscent of Phoenix Wright.

By asking the right questions, and giving the right responses to some really pointed game questions (“Do you trust this answer?”), you earn Stars which are used to rank your investigation at the end. If you don’t get perfect in a scene, you’re always given the option at the end of it to replay the scene for a better score.

In the end, it just feels like it’s a really light version of a typical Telltale adventure game. Which is fair enough, since this WAS an iOS title, but it makes me wish a bit they redid things for the PC port.

After you go through the scenes and arrest a suspect as the detectives, you switch to the Order side of the series and play as one of the prosecutors. For the most part the game plays in a similar fashion since it’s about responding to dialog options, but the mechanics are a bit different.

Where detectives had stars as the only way to rank their skill, prosecutors are based on swaying the opinion of the jury, which is based on a “scales of justice” meter. As you perform well, ask the right questions, and make the correct objections, the jury sides more with your argument, making it easier to get a conviction or have a better position for a plea bargain. A problem with this mode, though (at least, it was for episode 1) is that objecting almost always sounded very mechanical, as the game would ask you if you wanted to object, play the voice clip, ask what kind of objection, and then play that clip. It usually sounded more like a robot pulling out separate voice clips.

That said, though, other then one kind of strange logical leap in the first episode, the flow of the story was so much like a Law and Order episode that I was starting to have flashbacks. And Telltale advertises the entire 7 episode season as having a single overarching plot, which makes me pretty interested since the first one is written really well. My only real complaints are that the gameplay is still very much grounded in typical iOS mechanics, and the graphics don’t look like they were redesigned for the PC. The aesthetics still work, though.

A friend also tells me that the first episode is free on the iOS store, so folks who want to give the PC version a try can demo it there as well.

This doesn’t really belong in the review proper, but I figured that I would talk about the Deluxe Edition of Jurassic Park: The Game.

I’m a sucker for Collector’s Editions of stuff, and will almost always buy it if I have the ability. And Jurassic Park’s was actually pretty great.

Unlike the Deluxe Edition for Back to the Future: The Game, Jurassic Park’s was actually shipped to me in a series-appropriate shipping container, which just adds to the realism. The package is meant to be as if it was for a new employee of the park, and comes with a temporary pass, a part pamphlet, an employee handbook, a patch, a letter from John Hammond, and the game on DVD with the soundtrack and Making Of videos.

The package as a whole is really neat, and was definitely worth the extra to get it from Telltale’s store instead of getting the game through Steam.

I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!
 

Amount Played For Review: Episode 1 (of 4); ~1.5 hours
Platform: PC

 

Jurassic Park is frightening in the dark.

Now that we have that out of the way, Jurassic Park is the latest title from Telltale Games. While Telltale normally produces high quality adventure games, Jurassic Park is their attempt to make a more cinematic and action-y title. And it didn’t really work out too well.

But let’s not get ahead of myself here. At it’s heart, Jurassic Park: The Game is a series of scenes with some occasional interaction to determine whether the scene progresses or not. And this is where Telltale runs into trouble.

The game is broken down into 12 scenes (at least, Episode 1 was), and players get ranked on how much they don’t mess up the various Quick Time Event commands within it. Once you’ve cleared a scene, you can replay it to get a better score. If you have the game on Steam or for consoles, there are achievements for getting all of the Gold medals, of course. And some of the scenes are pretty hard, especially when a few of the QTEs require very quick reactions. And the game does a poor job of highlighting these scenes; sometimes the game gives you a few seconds to enter the button commands when you’re facing down a dinosaur, and sometimes you only have a second.

As well, sometimes a failed QTE will let you continue through the scene, while sometimes it just means death. Dying in a Telltale game is by itself fairly unusual, but the game is really forgiving about them: each scene has a (large) number of checkpoints (basically one after every potential death scene, from what it seems like), and you get reset to the checkpoint with a “failure” mark against you, as if you had just messed up one of the unimportant QTEs. I’m not really so upset about this, but it does kind of make one wonder why they even bothered.

There’s more to the game then just QTE events and cutscenes, though. Interspersed among the scenes are places where you need to solve standard adventure game puzzles, like distracting a security guard or coaxing a triceratops back into it’s pen. These are placed fairly logically, and work very well to progress the story.

Speaking of the story, Jurassic Park covers the fate of the can of Barbasol after Dennis Nedry meets his… unfortunate end. Within the first episode, you get introduced to three groups of people that you change between at different parts in the story: Miles Chadwick and Nima Cruz, which were Nedry’s contacts; Gerry Harding, the park’s chief vet and his daughter Jess, who was just visiting; and Dr. Laura Sorkin, one of the park scientists who is trapped in one of the research labs. Different scenes have you controlling different groups, and even different people within the groups, as required to progress the story. It works well, and makes the whole experience feel much more like a movie, when the QTEs cooperate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The types of QTEs in the game is also pretty varied, and usually there’s enough time given to determine the type of actions required for the event. Not always, though, as there were a few that I basically failed instantly because I wasn’t given much time to determine what I was expected to do. And some scenes just have a ridiculous number of QTEs, as well.

Complaints I’ve seen of the console versions make it seem like the buttons it tells you to press often seem very disconnected from the events on the screen, but that doesn’t seem to be the case on the PC: It’s almost always the direction key for the movement the character is making, or the direction they are aiming. That said, many of the events were for things that seemed very strange to require an event for, like walking down a flight of stairs, or examining footprints. The impression I got was that they felt that they needed to have the player doing SOMETHING during these scenes, even if they were basically just cutscenes. And that’s probably the core problem with the game; Telltale wanted to try something new, but made the game TOO cinematic, and then shoved some awkward QTEs in to make it interactive.

But enough about the game. The engine itself also seemed to have some troubles, which is strange since they were things that they did right in previous games. Changing the resolution is a one-at-a-time selection option, and the game needs to adjust the resolution each time. This meant I needed to sit through the game adjusting resolution something like 10 times before I got it to the right size for my computer. This is incredibly strange, since not only have every other Telltale game had “Apply” before it adjusted resolution, but so do most games!

As well, some scenes in the game look quite good, but often have parts that looks quite awkward; as if the main polygon object was actually some kind of flat sprite with a 3D object overlayed on top of it. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it was quite noticeable.

Overall, Jurassic Park: The Game wasn’t a terrible experience, but it certainly shows that while Telltale is a master of their domain, they have troubles going outside of it. Hopefully their next non-adventure title will take notes from the troubles they had with Jurassic Park.

 

Full Reviews:

Giant Bomb: Quick Look

Joystiq: Review

IGN: Review