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Trespasser: Jurassic Park (Windows)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Lumpi (197)
Written on  :  Feb 06, 2004
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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There's no other game like this.

The Good

Imagine a virtual game-world where you can explore kilometer-sized levels where every stone, every crate, every piece of wood lying around has a detailed physics model applied to it. Imagine dinosaurs that try to attack you as a group, sneak up behind you and bite the gun out of your hand before you even get to shoot.

You play Anne, a woman stranded on a mysterious island after a terrible plane accident. Soon you find out that this island is "Site B" where InGen built their dinosaur-breeding facilities. Your only mission is to get away from this raptor-contaminated island as soon as possible.

Trespasser was the only game ever created that features exploration gameplay in a detailed, physically correct environment. No HUD, no stats only your right arm which you have to use to pick up, throw and push things. And, well, your left breast with a little heart-shaped tattoo on it that acts as a "health-indicator". Because everything in Trespasser is part of the game-world you can even see your own body in first person view.

Trespassers graphics were quite remarkable by the time it was released. Huge outdoor environments, unusual special effects like bump-mapping, real-time shadows and realistic water created an incredibly realistic-looking world.

But the most interesting part of course was the physics-engine. I first realized how powerful it was when I came to a small cliff with a pack of velociraptors approaching me. I only had a few shots in my gun and there were at least two of them left. I thought I'm already as good as dead when I looked up and saw the rusted wreck of a jeep lying on the edge of the cliff just above the raptors. So I aimed high and shot the wreck. Slowly it started moving, then it rolled down the cliff hitting both of the raptors with full speed and just smashed them. It looked just amazing like a scene from a movie. Later on I read that this particular scene in the game was the idea of Steven Spielberg himself, who visited the Dreamworks Interactive studios from time to time. Well it looks like making movies isn't his only talent. :)

It's quite surprising that an official movie-licensed game has such an unique gameplay concept. Trespasser features the voices of Minnie Driver (Anne) and Richard Attenbourgh (John Hammond) who is reading from a fictitious book he wrote which Anne seemed to have read and remembers during her trip. The game however doesn't have many connections with the story of The Lost World which is probably a good thing. The Music is very good, it sounds like a real movie score and adds a lot to the feeling of playing an interactive movie.

The Bad

There is a reason why big gaming companies avoid making original games. It's much easier to make a game that just copies the gameplay of an existing genere than inventing and balancing a totally new gaming concept. Few things in Trespasser have ever been there before. Even the first person shooter elements are different as your gun is just a physical object like any other. This brings a lot of problems.

First controlling your virtual hand using your mouse is a nearly impossible task for someone who never played the game before and a lot of gamers already give up at this point, calling the game unplayable. The next thing is the physics-engine itself. Though its very impressive and well-working most times it has dozens of annoying bugs, like objects falling through walls, raptors falling through walls and you getting stuck IN a wall.

The system requirements are a bit extreme too. I have an Athlon XP 1800 with 512MB ram and a geforce2MX and the game still runs quite slowly at some spots for a six-years old game! I remember not being able to play it by the time it came out although I had a pretty high-end system then.

The Bottom Line

Maybe this game could have been a big hit if the developers had the time to actually finish it... Many people see it as a good example for "unused potentials". The physics engine, the huge outdoor environments, the incredible atmosphere, Trespasser has many elements of a gaming masterpiece but lacks of true perfection. Despite all it's flaws Trespasser is an incredible game and one of my all-time favorites because there's simply no other game like this. Once you've mastered the funny controls (which requires you to play it through at least once) Trespasser is a truly wonderful game with an awesome atmosphere.