Trespasser review (A honest retrospective),
This review is from: Trespasser : Lost World Jurassic Park (Video Game)
In most cases bad games deserve the derision and scorn attached to them as usually the intentions behind its development are built on cynical foundations (I.E. poor cash in of an existing property, a kitsch copy of a separate game franchise). However Jurassic Park: Trespasser was one of the few games that was conceived with respectable aspirations to innovate the gaming industry, yet unfortunately was released as a partially finished mess; leaving with it some scares game remnants of what could have been a potentially good game.
Trespasser was developed by DreamWorks Interactive in 1998 and was a project that closely worked with Jurassic park director Steven Speilberg in an attempt to create a world that emulated the dynamic environment of the movie licences. The goal was to make a realistic game that included an advanced physics engine with interactive objects that respond to environmental stimulus and a simulated ecosystem matching the proposed ecosystem from the movies. This was going to utilize procedural generated actions in its dinosaur AI based on their individual needs; effectively emulating set behavioural responses towards the player and other dinosaurs, influenced by hunger levels and feelings of threat. A bold ambition that unfortunately failed to meet expectations, due to the pressure placed to develop a game to outshine its competitors in a tight time frame.
Trespasser takes place a year after events of the movie The Lost World where you assume the character of Anna, the sole survivor of a plane crash, on the island Isla Sorna. As Anna acquires her bearings traversing the lush and flourishing flora of the island, she comes across derelict camps and abandoned prefabrications . To her dismay, she realises that she has been stranded on Site B, the location used by InGen to breed dinosaurs for Jurassic park.
The positives of the game should first be acknowledged. Trespasser was one of the first games of its kind to include physics in its game, meaning that you could interact with the environment around you where objects such as chairs, barrels and crates which would tumble, roll, and lean on other surfaces.
The story itself, or fragments of it, tie very closely to both the movies and the novels, creating a narrative that neatly fits with the fictional continuity. Research made into the Jurassic Park universe shows itself in the landscapes, archives and momentous events in game that are apropos to the canon of the Jurassic park franchise. This is also further emboldened by the narrative elements where certain events trigger the disembodied voice of John Hammond, who reads out extracts of his diary relating to key structures used for the development of Jurassic park.
The game had an impressive draw distance for the day, meaning that you could see a vast amount of the scenery from several miles away; quite impressive for a game made in 1998. Here you see a vista of tropical jungle flora that were surprisingly well rendered for the time and give the player a great immersive feel. Many different types of prehistoric creatures wander around the island minding to their own devises and simply serve as a reminder of the vast scale of the project undertook by John Hammond's industry.
However after processing the grandeur of the initial gameplay, the more problematic elements become very apparent. Firstly the most frustrating was the game's much vaunted aiming system which tried to emulate the movement of a human arm. This unfortunately is not implemented very well as the controls make it difficult to align the main character's arm in a manner to make aiming a weapon feasible. The physics in game do not contain friction, meaning that objects leaning on another object have a tendency to slide of its surface quite frequently. In addition to this there are certain glitches in that make object float inexplicably in the air, detracting from the immersion factor.
Some of the later levels are very bare, including the towns and labourites. Particular buildings contain very little inside, other than plain whitewashed walls and surfaces that does little to add to the game. In one level known as the industrial jungle, the game designers resort to stretching the rock textures in order to create the effect of being trapped in the bottom of a ravine, but the end result makes the textures look very out of place. The puzzles set in the game are very repetitive surmounting to little more than box moving puzzles intended solely to showcase the powerful physics engine at the time. This eventually becomes so tiresome that it renders an initially impressive aspect, quite tawdry. Also segments of the game are practically unplayable, including puzzles which are broken to the point of making the game unplayable without console command inputs (cheat codes).
The enemy variation is surprisingly sparse considering how varied the passive dinosaurs are and how frequently they appear in game. The most a player will encounter enemy wise are raptors whose only variance is a change in its pallet colour, that indicates the animal's difficulty. The enemies also have a tendency to glitch out frequently, either trapping themselves on walls, gates and fences or even killing themselves should they interact with a surface in a particular manner. One of the common glitch with the raptors is for their textures to randomly compress, at random intervals, with little to no reason as to the cause; a testament to a very unstable game engine. The proposed procedural actions of the passive dinosaur AI is rarely apparent, as well as such dinosaurs becoming unresponsive to the assaults or interactions of the player themselves.
It is difficult to recommend this game, as expressed from the outset of this review. The game is not a good enough on its own to be an enjoyable experience. However what the game itself does is display an interesting attempt in a feat to innovate the way games could be played in the 1990s and how aspects such as time constrains and pressure can affect the overall quality. It also influenced the development of more successful titles and is noted by game developer Valve as inspiration to implement physics in game franchises such as Half-life.
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Initial post: 7 Nov 2014 23:23:21 GMT
Call me nuts, but I absolutely loved this game back in the days. I remember I could hardly run it on a Voodoo 2 GPU. I wish they made a proper remake of this game, I had a HUGE potential.
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