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PLATFORM: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PS2, and Wii
ESRB RATING: T
DEVELOPER: Cauldron HQ
Announced just a few weeks before its release, Jurassic: The Hunted is a game by Cauldron HQ, developers of Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2010. They’ve taken their same engine, same vision gimmick (an x-ray view that lets you see vital organs inside animals to better kill your prey), and applied it to the most dangerous game of all- dinosaurs.
Gamers are so hungry for a shooter starring dinosaurs (and were so disappointed by the last Turok) that interest in this budget title has been through the roof- it was pretty amazing to see the staggering amount of views and comments hitting the trailer we uploaded for the game. Activision was kind enough to send over a copy of the game so we can see what we have here, and well, it’s about as good as you’d expect.
You play as Dylan, a “weapons and survival expert” who’s been tasked with protecting a researcher looking to find her father. He was lost twenty years earlier on a mysterious island that’s plagued with bursts of temporal energy, and it’s pretty unlikely that he’s still alive. As you might expect from the title, Dylan ends up being sucked into a time vortex and deposited in the past, right near the waiting jaws of hungry, prehistoric monsters. You fight your way through them and end up finding her father (surprise!) who knows a way back- but needs your help. Yes, he knows how to get home but has apparently been sitting around in the past for twenty years.
CHUDTIP- He looks a lot more dangerous than he is.
It doesn’t help that this story is told to you via some atrocious voice acting and boring, badly animated cutscenes, but really, you’re just here to kill you some dinos.
You’re given a ton of different weapons from different eras and a hundreds of prehistoric monsters to shoot. What more do you need? The shooting mechanics are fine and the controls familiar to anyone who’s played a FPS in the last decade, with no real surprises. You have regenerating health, can only carry a limited amount of weapons (thankfully more than two!) and can aim down the gunsights with the left trigger.
There isn’t too much of a variety of dinosaurs here but you’ve got a few different types of raptors, deinonychus, dilophosaurs (out of their own era, apparently) and pterosaurs. There are also a couple of times you will fight a T-Rex with a mounted gun and even get in the middle of a T-Rex/Spinosaurus Jurassic Park III-inspired fight, but they’re pretty easy and not as memorable as you’d hope.
Most dinos can kill you pretty easily if you’re not aiming carefully and using that hunter vision that lets you see their brains, lungs and heart- aim for those and you’ll take most down in a shot or two.
CHUDTIP- A shotgun shell to the head will typically bring down a dino, as long as you aim at their tiny brains.
The short levels are as linear as you can get, and every time the path forks both choices just lead you to the exact same place. The dinosaurs have been affected by the temporal rift as well so they come warping in every time you come to a clearing, which is cheap and disappointing. Give up those dreams about hearing a rustling in the grass around you before being attacked… there are no clever girls here, just dumb AI.
It’s honestly about as average a shooter as you can get but but there’s one thing that keeps it entertaining, and that of course is the fact that it’s fun as hell to shoot rampaging dinosaurs in the mouth. Don’t question why, it just is.
Two words again apply here- Budget Title. The graphics are decent but the animation can get very stilted. The models for the humans are truly awful, but thankfully there are only a handful of cutscenes that show them off. The music is decent but repetitive, an obvious mix of tribal drums and metal guitar riffs.
The environments are nice enough and they try to have a bit of variety here and there, at least.
CHUDTIP- Kill every pterosaur you see in the level Rise Above for an easy achievement. This game has a plethora of easy achievements, actually.
The game is incredibly short, easily beaten in two or three hours. There’s also a survival mode that’s a ripoff of Call of Duty: World at War‘s Nazi Zombies mode where you have to repair barricades to keep a horde of dinos at bay (not sure why they just don’t try to jump over, but…) Unfortunately it’s slow to get going and not very entertaining, especially as you only have one barricade to worry about, rather than zombies busting in at you from all around and above you. You’ll likely play it once and never try it again.
CHUDTIP- Sadly, you don’t get to kill any herbivores. Or root through their crap.
At thirty bucks this is still too expensive of a budget title. At ten or twenty the short length and limited amount of fun would be worth it, but it’s more likely a game that will be easier to rent or ignore. Our wait for a fantastic next-gen dino shooter continues.