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Warpath: Jurassic Park (PlayStation) artwork

Warpath: Jurassic Park (PlayStation) review

"After playing the dismal beat 'em up, Primal Rage I swore that no good fighting game could be created with dinosaurs in. Well on reflection, I was kind of right and kind of wrong. Jurassic Park Warpath is in no way a great beat 'em up in the traditional sense (ie. Measured against the likes of Tekken or Streetfighter). But it is an entertaining; slick and fun beat 'em up with added educational value. The game is based on the Jurassic Park films, which tell of a mad (ish) scientist who brings bac..."

After playing the dismal beat 'em up, Primal Rage I swore that no good fighting game could be created with dinosaurs in. Well on reflection, I was kind of right and kind of wrong. Jurassic Park Warpath is in no way a great beat 'em up in the traditional sense (ie. Measured against the likes of Tekken or Streetfighter). But it is an entertaining; slick and fun beat 'em up with added educational value. The game is based on the Jurassic Park films, which tell of a mad (ish) scientist who brings back various dinosaurs with the miracle of cloning and keeps them on an island theme park. Released in the UK in 2000 the game itself takes the premise that the dinosaurs have broken out of the compounds and are just tearing it up around the place. There is no story, just a series of battles with other dinosaurs until you face down your end of game boss.

Its not the deepest beat 'em up ever made. Simply due to the fact your average dinosaur would have a hard time performing epic kung fu moves. The four symbol buttons are used for two light and two heavy attacks. L1 and L'' let the dinosaur circle around its opponent in the fully 3D arenas. R1 allows you to block and R2 activates a taunt which is actually more than just a fun way to wind up your opponent. If you unleash taunts you can build up your dinosaurs Frenzy meter. When this flashes red holding Taunt and any attack button allows a ferocious frenzy combo to be unleashed. The four basic attacks can also be combined to allow special moves and throws.

Attacks are mainly head butts, stomps, gouges, tail swipes and body slams. This leads to certain repetitiveness in the fighting over time, but it looks fantastic. The dinosaurs really go at each other with vicious clawing and biting from the carnivores and violent head butting and body slamming from the herbivores. Although the moves are similar, the effectiveness will depend on the type of dinosaur you have chosen. So the T-Rex has a mean tail swipe and snapping jaws, but the four legged Ankylosaurus can duck many attacks easily and by grabbing the T-Rex's foot it can yank it to the ground and slap it about with its own armoured tail. A light two-legged dinosaur can make up for its lack of strength in speed and cunning. So they can dodge and weave from the sheer brute power of the large carnivores and also jump on the backs of the quadrupeds and do them damage that way.

The fighting arenas are in full 3D and are based on sets from the movie such as the electrified fence section, or the helipad. There are things on each stage you can use to damage you opponent with, for example you can knock your foe into the electric fence for extra damage. Or smash them through boxes and barrels, it's a nice addition to the action and really adds to the feel of huge creatures running amok. While you are busy tearing each others guts out, humans or teeny weeny dinosaurs will scuttle across the arenas. These can be squished, or more profitably you can perform a bite attack on them to eat them up and replenish some health. This can be quite tricky to accomplish, as both dinosaurs tend to rush at the unlucky person and tread on them before they can eat them up.

Although each dinosaur has a small roster of moves (well, maybe the same as the average streetfighter character!), the freedom to move around the arenas and use the destructible aspects add a new layer of tactics. With the different species all requiring a different approach to battle, it has some depth to it. But not really enough to stimulate long-term play. It does however look fantastic. When the PlayStation first came out in the UK it was bundled with a demo CD. On this were two interactive creatures, Dinosaur and Manta. These amazing 3D creations could be manipulated in a basic way and looked totally stunning. Jurassic Parks Dinosaurs are all of that quality.

There's a great line up as well. Default dinosaurs are Acro (Acrocanthosaurus - ''High Spine Lizard''), Anky (Ankylosaurus - ''Fused Lizard''), Giga (Giganotasaurus - ''Giant Southern Lizard''), Raptor (Mega Raptor - ''Huge Robber''), Stygi (Stygimoloch - ''Demon from the River Styx''), Styrac (Styracosaurus - ''Spiked Lizard''), Sucho (Suchomimus - ''Crocodile Mimic''), T-Rex (Tyrannosaurus Rex - ''Tyrant Lizard King). A nice mixture of hefty two bipedal powerhouses (Giga and T-Rex, the Ken and Ryu of JP Warpath), heavily armoured quadrupeds (Anky - like a bad tempered tank although I question his jumping ability as displayed here!) and speedy but small dino-psychos! (Stygimoloch and his fantastic domed armoured head is especially good for nutting all and sundry!)

Completing Arcade Mode unlocks various secrets such as Survival, Choice and Exhibition Mode. With every two dinosaurs who complete the game you will unlock a secret one. Sadly there are no endings to be had, but as there is no real story I suppose it doesn't matter so much. The secret dinosaurs are: Carchar (Carcharodontosaurus - ''Shark Tooth Lizard''), Pachy (Pachycephalosaurus - ''Thick Head Lizard''), Spino (Spinosaurus - ''Spiny Reptile''), Trike (Triceratops - ''Three Horn Dinosaur''), Cryo (Cryolophosaurus - ''Frozen Crested Lizard'') and Alberto (Albertosaurus - ''Lizard from Alberta''). Of course it would be pedantic of me to point out that of all these dinosaurs only one actually comes from the Jurassic Era (cryolophosaurus actually fact fans!). The rest hail from the cretaceous period. But I suppose Cretaceous Park sounds a bit odd, and anyway it's harder to spell, so I'll let them off.

Of course no one can be absolutely sure of what the dinosaurs looked like skin wise or sounded like, but the recreations here are all authentic looking. This game contains an utterly fantastic Museum Mode. It is here you can find out lots more info on each dinosaur. You can try different skin colours on them. Find out where there fossils where first discovered. See where they lie on the dinosaur family tree and all kinds of other interesting facts. For the dinosaur fan such as myself it was this extremely well thought out and informative section of the game that lifts it from superior Primal Rage clone into the realms of infotainment that's actually fun and educational.

The music in the fighting arenas is orchestral and stirring, the sound effects deserve credit as well. There is a fantastically meaty selection of thuds, roars, squeals of pain, crashes and explosions. With a vibrating controller you can feel ever step and when a dinosaur crashes to the ground it nearly vibrates out of your hand!
The background noise and echoes in the museum mode is amusing authentic (right down to announcements informing you of where to hide if the dinosaurs escape). With atmospheric menu screens and plenty of modes to play around with this is a very slick package overall.

Of course although the great graphics and sound and the wonderful museum mode are commendable, the central premise still suffers from the facts that, cool though dinosaurs are, you're never going to be able to get a truly long lived and deep beat 'em up involving them. I still rate it as one of the more enjoyable beat 'em ups I've played. Certainly its relatively simplicity makes it ideal for younger gamers and they are more likely to have a prior interest in the dinosaur subject matter as well. In summary then a package that will appeal to lovers of fighting games, only if they also share a love of dinosaurs.

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Community review by falsehead (March 08, 2004)

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