Here we go again. We’re halfway through summer and as such, halfway through my series of articles. As I write this, I should be longing for the July 4th weekend where friends, and friends of friends, converge on the house of my buddy with the largest amount of disposable income. For three days, there will be BBQs, games on the beach (because of course he lives on the beach), and cold beer by the barrel full. His brother works as an HVAC technician, thus he jury rigs an air conditioner to condition the water ice mix in a 44 gallon rubber barrel filled with just about every brew in the area and a keg at the bottom for good measure. It’s always cold is what I’m trying to say. To close the holiday out, around fifty people watch as he sets off around $300 worth of fireworks in a spectacle that puts the town’s show to shame.
Just like John Hammond, he spares no expense.
Yet, I’m not longing. All that can occupy my mind is this damn game. It doesn’t help that I have to play it all weekend in order to write my thoughts during the next week. Any other time, I wouldn’t give a shit. Because of the timing, I’m annoyed. But since the scheduling is all my fault to begin with, I should quit my bitching, suck it up, and play myself a dinosaur game while lying on a beach with a stomach full of beer and BBQ (poor me, right?).
HERE’S WHAT I REMEMBER:
Unlike the original game, I don’t remember if I rented or bought ‘Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition’ initially. What I do remember is a mixture of feelings. The first one was crap, why would they bother making another one? Jurassic Park IS awesome though. Is it a sequel? No, it’s just another version. But is it? I don’t know! I hate this, but I want to play it!
Just like the last time, I chose Alan Grant, gave a little groan, and started playing. When I noticed that Grant controlled like the previous game, that groan got a little louder. This was going to be a meaningless exercise in self torment. Or as I would have thought as a kid, “Great. The first one was dumb and now you’re dumb for playing this one.” And yet, despite being very similar to the original, there were enough differences to ‘Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition’ that made it better. It might have even been considered “good”.
No longer did I have to scavenge and conserve ammo like I was playing ‘Resident Evil: Jurassic Park Edition’. The basic dart gun was weak, but had unlimited ammo. As long as you played ‘Mega Man’ at some point in your past, you could get through the majority of the game. I don’t remember what the weapons were, but I remember only resorting to them if there was an area I wanted to make it through faster, Sort of like a temporary “easy mode” setting.
Because I could control Grant a little easier, because I could play this version like an action game, and most importantly, because I wasn’t being slowed to a frame rate that made it feel like I was playing a game through a strobe light, I actually beat the game. It felt like GODDAMNED MIRACLE. I played this version far more than the original. In fact, I played Alan Grant’s campaign more than the Raptor’s. However it happened, I was happy that the developers (BlueSky) learned their lesson. As far as I was concerned, this version was an apology for the first.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP?
Yup, it’s basically what I thought. The game was completely overhauled, making it not just playable, but fun. I’m not sure exactly why I had such an initial negative response, though I have a hunch. You see, Grant’s animations are similar to the first ‘Jurassic Park’ game. Despite the fact that the controls were much tighter and he didn’t move at the speed of an injured scuba diver, I somehow convinced myself that it was the same. Considering the bullshit I put up with during the first go around, this would have been enough to convince my young brain that I was going to be let down worse than…well…
From the start, I knew that I was in for a different experience. I never mentioned it, but in the first ‘Jurassic Park’ they made the T-Rex say “SEGA” in a cheesy deep growl at the logo screen. At the time I thought “It’s silly, but who cares?” Rampage Edition starts out with a more detailed sprite giving a decent yell before stomping off screen. It’s a little change, but it set a tone. By giving me a more down to earth start, it lets me know that they’re not fucking around this time.
It’s not just the intro that conveys this feeling either. While the sprites look similar to the assets in the first game, BlueSky gave them an overhaul. The look reminds me of a comic book with stark black outlines and vibrant, colorful details. From the bright blue, sun beaten savannah to the T-Rex attack on the river during a hellish red sunset, each environment is lively and detailed, making each stage it’s own character.
The one thing I forgot about was the level design. While the first one was short but full of bullshit, these levels are well thought out and designed but looooong. I only had enough time to play the initial three levels you can select from (that’s right, you get choice of levels this time), but each one was a time investment. Sometimes it was because of the difficulty curve (just like the first game, there’s no hand holding here, but at least this one is fun), other times I was kicking open doors, or maneuvering to a lower platform, and all I could think was “there’s more?!?”
After the bad taste the first game left in my mouth, I was ready for the worst. Instead, I got a game that mixed in a larger variety of game play. I had to switch between every weapon I had to take down the assortment of dinosaurs and human enemies standing in my path to…well, to be honest, I don’t know what I was fighting towards, but I know that I HAD to get there damn it! In any case, I believe that ‘Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition’ is one of the better games I’ve played while doing this series. At least the Grant campaign is. I still have to play as the Raptor.