The Nerd: Remember when I was talking about Jurassic Park games in the Spielberg games episode, episode 101 if you wanna be a nerd? Well I ordered some new Jurassic Park games, but instead I got this in the mail. Yeah its called "Trespasser: The Lost World of Jurassic Park" or just "Trespasser". I don't know.
The trailer for the game gives you the impression it might actually be something awesome, the next generation 3D gaming.
The Nerd: Alright so you know what's coming. So I'm gonna say the magic words: How bad could this be?
Now let's see, Windows 95 or 98, 64 Megs of RAM, Pentium 2 Chip. Oh! This game's too advanced for my retro computers and probably too shitty for my modern computers. Let's try it anyway.
The Nerd: Yeah! Now that's what I'm talking about. Look at that arm flopping all over the place. Bad frame rate, background glitching. I feel at home already. Huh, the game's breaking down. Let me adjust the settings.
(The Nerd snickers after seeing the changed configurations make it worse.) That's a new one. I'm sorry, I just need to take a look at this for a moment. That is amazing. When you've only just started the game and you're looking at this, you know you're in for a treat. There exists patches and mods that improve the game from being total ass to just mediocre. But I need the authentic experience. I'm the "Angry Video Game Nerd" not the "Slightly Irritated Video Game Geek".
The Nerd: Wait a minute, what's this? Plane ticket? Huh. The tropics. Yeah, you know what, I could use a vacation. Screw this game.
(Fade to plane scene)
Intercom: Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Just an updated from the cockpit. We're expecting a smooth ride, cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, the current temperature 75 degrees, a dinosaur on the wing.
(A Pteranodon yelping outside the Nerd's window and causing destruction to the wing. The Nerd whimpers. Screaming and rocking peals through the plane. After the plane crashes, the camera pans over the inlet)
The Nerd: Well that was a shitty flight, it's a...it's a dinosaur! Look how old that computer is. It's a dinosaur! I'll try to send out a distress call. Ah! No luck, but it has the recommended parts needed to run Trespasser, and there's a copy of the game. Well, I guess reviewing the game is my vacation now.
What's with this weird font? "Please take a few moments to register Trespasser and receive full customer support and regular information about our products. Be automatically entered to win something cool from EA, it might be a free game, a hat, a T-shirt - whatever we come up with. Lucky winners picked every month." Judging by this game's reputation the only thing EA should be giving out is apologies, a legacy that continues to this day.
(Video clip from the game's intro)
John Hammond: By 1989, international genetic technologies had succeeded in their design to genetically recreate the dinosaurs.
The Nerd: The intro recaps the movies with the familiar voice of Richard Attenborough as John Hammond. The game itself is supposed to be a direct sequel to the lost world, so it's technically "Jurassic Park 3" before "Jurassic Park III", but following the books at times too, so whatever.
You play as Anne, who crashes on to site B of all places. Man, they just can't stop landing on those fucking dinosaur islands. Hmm. What's cool is she's voice by actress Minnie Driver. You know from Good Will Hunting and uh Goldeneye.
Whoa, what kind of hazardous waste did they dump in that water? What am I even looking at? Okay, let me fix my settings. Nice! Even with the most optimized computer to run the original version of the game it still crashes and runs like shit. After what seems like an eternity, I'm finally playing the game. And the background's still glitching. I know it's common for games to have assets fade in, and it's not the worst, but it's still pretty buggy.
Trespasser was coded to have realistic physics. The environments were meant to be immersive with plenty of things you could interact with - with your long ragdoll noodle arm. It hardly works. Just try shooting a basketball. Or try picking up an object and if you bump into anything it'll drop whatever your holding. Look at this, I can't go five feet without dropping my gun. And the jumping. Oh! God! Sometimes it's alright, but other times you get stuck, like on this wall, which is so short it shouldn't be that hard. I keep falling off. If only I could see my legs, that's like trying to walk on stairs without looking down. You can look down, but the game designers decided it was more important to see the character's boobs.
(The Computer monitor flashes)
BB Guy: Hey! What's up nerd?
The Nerd: Oh it's that Boundary Break Guy. How'd you know to call me here?
BB Guy: I got this mysterious message to call this computer and it's asking me to help you understand Jurassic Park Trespasser a little bit better.
The Nerd: That's pretty convenient, but I could actually use some help boundary breaking this piece of shit.
BB Guy: If we take the camera around and we can see that all she has are shoulders, chest and a single long arm. The chest is enlarged to hide the fact that she has no legs from the player's perspective. And also it behaves like a health meter, where her heart tattoo appears to be more and more filled as she takes damage.
Anne: Hup! (takes damage) Ow!
BB Guy: You can see the different stages of the heart hidden underneath her skin here. Also her legs seem to be a rotating cube that rolls like a ball cube. This might be the reason you're having trouble jumping onto the ledges, the collision detection is not that great. So I hope that helps, and I hope it explains a little bit about the coding there for you Nerd.
The Nerd: Thanks, yeah it does. By the way, while I have you, can you send a rescue party here to get me off this island? There's creepy dudes wearing inflatable dinosaur costumes.
BB Guy: It looks like they're cutting out the signal. Hey! Good luck to yourself out there nerd. (monitor scrambles and switches off)
The Nerd: Now I know how to keep track of my health, by looking down, but what about ammo? There's no heads up display or meters showing how many bullets you have left.
Anne: (fires) Seven. (fires) Six. (fires) Five.
The Nerd: That is really annoying. Also unrealistic. Who counts out loud how many bullets they have left, while they're being attacked by a wobbly velociraptor?
Anne: (fires) Six. (fires) Five.
The Nerd: When Anne realizes where she is, it triggers voice overs from John Hammond.
John Hammond: My name is John Parker Hammond.
The Nerd: Again the narration is great, but are they playing in her head or does the island have speakers? In Bioshock, you find recordings everywhere on tape decks. Here they just play.
John Hammond: I was born on March 14th, 1928.
Anne: Oh, no!
The Nerd: Ok, here's some trivia. The Lost World had a cross-promotion with Mercedes. Even the VHS tape opened with a Mercedes-Benz commercial, but it didn't stop there, because the cross-promotion made it into this game too. Yep just a random truck with the Mercedes logo, right in the beginning of the game.
After this we finally get our first look at a dinosaur. The Brachiosaurus, just like in the movie. Who can forget that majestic scene where they first witnessed the dinosaurs? Where everybody looks up in wonder. And the game does a fine job recapturing that feeling of wonder. The wonder of how they fucked it up. Looks like shit. Look at them bumping into each other. Wish that happened in the movie.
This game has a puzzle element too. As if it need that. The first one's a bridge that sways back and forth. You just gotta wait and then (grunts) jump! Argh! Fuck! So I have to backtrack and drag a box to stop it from swinging. But that doesn't work either, so I had to grab another box, which took way longer than expected. You it would be better, if the jumping worked.
Every time you start a new level, you lose your weapons. Sometimes you can pick up new ones quickly, but they're weaker than the ones you had before. Each level is full of dinosaurs like raptors and red raptors and yellow raptors. So many raptors. Seriously I know raptors are like one of the main bad guys in Jurassic Park, but could they not think of any other enemies? Even when other dinosaurs do show up, most of them mind their own business. Look at this Stegosaurus, it won't attack me even I try to piss it off. They attack in the Lost World, but here all you do is shoot raptors or drop jeeps on them.
(Raptor screeches as jeep crushes it, following by a metallic clunking)
The Nerd: And of course since the game's so broken, whenever raptors show up the frame rate goes from 20 frames per second to about 5. It's also hard to tell if they're dead. They just sit down with their eyes wide open. They look more tired than anything. I know what you're thinking - do they have a T-Rex? Yes, they do. Several, and they make almost no attempt to attack you. You can stand under one and it won't care. You might get hit on accident, but not enough to die. I keep thinking, whenever one shows up it'll lead to a big boss fight, but every T-Rex I've come across is either trying to kill another dinosaur or stumbling around drunk. Scratch that, every dinosaur walks like they just drank an entire case of rolling rock.
These levels are gigantic by the way. Probably some of the biggest for a 3D game at the time. That would be fine, but outside of a few area, they're mostly just trees and rocks, nothing interesting except for maybe this piss pond. Yeah the dinosaurs gotta piss somewhere I guess. So why not include that in the game? There are some Easter eggs you can find, but its not worth the time, like this beach where the opening audio from Lost World plays.
(Music from Lost World as well as some lines from Cathy Bowman)
The Nerd: Huh. Is it supposed to be the same beach? Looks nothing like it. This game is really repetitive, so I'm gonna focus on the stuff that stands out. There's a level called the town. It's where the engine staff used to live and work. It's think it's the same town at the end of Lost World because this building looks similar. But nothing else in this town even resembles the movie.
There's a puzzle in the beginning, where you have to plug in a key code. There's a word next to the keypad that says 'Big Lie' spelled with numbers. You have to plug the numbers in backwards to get it to work. Yeah, that's clever I guess. Then you'll bounce around different buildings, which is annoying all to collect keycards.
But I guess I do like John Hammond's big mansion you can explore. Complete with a garden that has rocks laid out like the Big Dipper. Well that's random, but actually its a clue help you find a keycard. And it looks like Dr. Henry Wu has VHS copies of "Buried Choppers" and "Zombie Love" in his house. They're all fake movies. But then the streets are named after famous real-life authors and include a statue of Edgar Rice Burroughs, who wrote "Tarzan", so that's kind of interesting, but not as interesting as this raptor being stuck in a fence.
(Raptor clanks the metal fence repeatedly)
The Nerd: Is that supposed to be a big pile of shit? Well I've seen better looking piles of shit right over there. That's one big pile of shit. Where's the shit? There's supposed to be a big pile of Triceratops feces here. (Groans) All right, let me check on the kitchen.
(Screen title with the Nerd shows the show titled "Shit's Kitchen". The kitchen has two chefs struggling to make the shit to meet the Nerd's demands)
The Nerd: Is it ready?
Chef #1: Just a minute chef.
The Nerd: We don't have a fucking minute! The audience are waiting! Mix the peanut butter with the chocolate syrup! Gosh! I can digest and shit out a real shit faster than you can make that fucking shit!
Chef #1: Here it is chef.
The Nerd: What the fuck is that!?
Chef #1: Uh it's...it's shit.
The Nerd: Fucking right it's shit! (tosses the dish) Pick it up!! That's the shittiest shit I ever saw. And you, do you have your shit together? Can you handle that shit?
Chef #2: How's this chef?
The Nerd: Fucking hell! That's not shit! You're shit! Your very existence is shit! You're a useless sack of worthless fucking shit! Leave the jacket and get out of my kitchen! Get the fuck out, you fucking fuck!! Sorry folks, it won't happen again. Alright, let's try that again. That is a big pile of shit.
The Nerd: The next level pissed me off and not because it starts with another T-Rex that ignores you. I get to a harbor with a bunch of containers meant for platform jumping. You knock over a trailer and hope to god it doesn't glitch and land in the wrong area. Oh, oh, watch it go. Ugh! *nervous laugh*
Gotta keycard. Okay what now? Maybe there's a door on that ship over by the pier. It's pretty far away but it has to be something important, right?
John Hammond: The Emily was a tug for bringing in the bigger freighters.
The Nerd: Ah. Just another Easter egg. So I backtracked and found this note: "Card is in the Atlantic". The Atlantic? That's the name of the container I was already at. I did the puzzles out of order. I got the one card too early.
Er here's the best part, you eventually leave the harbor and get to a lab where you find Dennis Nedry's office. He's the big guy in Jurassic Park who causes the computer system fail. Turns out Nedry was really into Sword and Sorcery stuff. He even has a motherfucking massive metal medieval mace. You'll never believe it, but this the strongest handheld weapon in the game. Yeah, a mace. I was able to bash a raptor's face in. (battle cry) Look at that. Next time you're talking Jurassic Park games, make sure to bring up Trespasser, the one where you fuck up a raptor with a medieval mace. The biggest mistake Dennis Nedry made was leaving this insanely awesome weapon on Site B. If he had this at the other island where the original Jurassic Park took place, things might have gone differently for him.
(Screen switches to Dennis Nedry's demise scene, where Dennis quickly gets in the car only to be cornered by the Dilophosaurus. Dennis takes out his mace and repeatedly beats the dinosaur)
The Nerd: Unfortunately like all weapons, you can't carry it over to the next level, but on the bright side it start you with the Lindstradt Air Gun, the one Eddie Carr had in the second movie. It can kill dinosaurs instantly, but you only have three shots, so I feel like this should be saved for some big boss battle. Except every T-Rex in the game won't give me the time of day. So I'm gonna use it on a few Albertosauruses instead.
Anne: (fires) Two.
The Nerd: This level reveals that site B was home to an indigenous race of people mentioned in the novels. You find one of their temples, but surprise it's booby trapped. Wait a minute, now it looks like I'm playing Tomb Raider. At the end of the ruins you meet a giant red Red who actually goes after you. Finally a boss fight. Now I wish I didn't waste those bullets. The one gun that could've maybe killed him and I blew it. So I do my best, I empty an entire clip into this motherfucker and just keeps on coming. But its okay, you don't have to kill him, you can just run around this pyramid and give him the slip. So maybe it wasn't a boss, just the only hostile T-Rex in the whole game.
But now I'm at the real hard part. An old rickety bridge. You have to jump over this gap and with this game's shitty jumping it is beyond impossible. No matter where I jump, I fall again and again. I have no idea what to do, so let's try something I learned a long time ago. Yep! You can just walk over it.
Here comes the last level or as I like to call it "Clumsy Mountain". Why? Because the dinosaurs can't help falling off the cliff (small laugh) dumb shits. After Anne calls for rescue another raptor attacks but also falls down a cliff. Near the end of the level I look back and saw more raptors falling. Birds evolved from dinosaurs my ass! These assholes can't fly for shit.
I made it to the end. All I need to do is jump over some boxes and get picked up by a helicopter. Be careful though because there is a final boss in the game. Could this be the huge epic T-Rex battle I've been waiting for? No it's just a big raptor, a big raptor who kills himself.
The Nerd: Man this sucked. It should have been this crazy immersive survival experience but it was just a Tyrannosaurus Wreck! Dog shit, we have dog shit here. See nobody cares. Seamus Blackley? I guess he's responsible for this shit show? Huh. I'd like to ask him a few questions.
(Seamus Blackley appears on the computer monitor)
Seamus: Uh! Uh! Uh! You didn't say the magic word.
The Nerd: I'd like to ask Seamus Blackley a few questions, please.
Seamus: I'm Seamus, Seamus Blackley. His assists in game designer, also father of the Xbox.
The Nerd: Oh right, the thing that plays "Drake of the 99 Dragons".
Seamus: (sighs) Yeah the thing that plays "Drake of the 99 Dragons" and "Azurik Rise of Perathia", yeah but also "Halo". I was the executive producer of Trespasser before that so I can answer any question you have about the game.
The Nerd: So this game did have a lot going for it in 98, uh ragdoll effects, physics that inspired "Half-Life 2", a surgeon simulator type arm mechanic, but then there's glitchy backgrounds, floating trees and drunk dinosaurs. What happened, was this game actually finished?
Seamus: No this game wasn't actually finished. This was a game from a brand new publisher DreamWorks Interactive, they weren't very experienced and I think I was 27 or 28 years old. I didn't know what to do, I was young, I was stupid and I was arrogant and so we tried to finish in the time allotted and then we were forced to ship a broken game. I thought it was the end of my career. It was incredibly painful to watch.
The Nerd: Well how much involvement did Spielberg have and what did Richard Attenborough think of the project?
Seamus: Uh Steven had a tremendous amount of-of involvement in the game and was really supportive. Richard Attenborough, who everyone called Dickey was one of the sweetest guys I've ever met, he took us under his wing and made us feel like we were doing something legitimate, which was pretty novel back then because it's only recently that video games have been seen as sort of a legitimate art form or media. Back then everybody still kind of treated you like a Skater Punk and so when Richard took us seriously, it-it meant an awful lot to us.
The Nerd: So uh, why'd you decide on the heart tattoo and screaming ammo level? Why not use a regular heads up display?
Seamus: The idea was that you would feel it was your adventure and part of that was not having a bunch of technology in your face. And we were struggling with the idea of a totally natural interface. Having everything in the game literally be in the game world in the context of the game world. The tattoo was one of the first ideas we had about a health meter wew were thinking about putting on the arm and it happened to be on a tattoo on the chest when we ran out time and so that's what-that's what stuck and that's just how stupid things are.
The Nerd: Why was that super raptor picked as the final boss when the game was already loaded with raptors?
Seamus: We didn't have time to create or budget to create a new boss dinosaur and we were in a huge rush to finish and we had a huge amount of pressure from DreamWorks Interactive. Of course all of these things are ludicrous now when you think about them because as we say, a late game is only late until it ships, but a bad game is bad forever.
The Nerd: What do you think about the game's legacy and fan base its gained? Have you played or seen any of the mods?
Seamus: You know Trespasser was made by a team of people worked very hard. It didn't work out and was very traumatic for them. So for all of them, I think most importantly seeing the love in the Trespasser community is so important and just very beautiful. I have at times been moved to tears honestly looking at some of the posts and the work that people have done.
The Nerd: Well cool thanks a lot. You know I really appreciate doing this, but um I just have one last question. Could send somebody to get me off this bullshit island?
Seamus: Now why would I do a thing like that? I'm the one who stranded you here. On MY private island.
The Nerd: Excuse me?
Seamus: I took drastic action to bring you here and it wasn't easy. You ever launched a guy in a Pteranodon suit at a charter plane with a catapult. It's tougher than it looks.
The Nerd: Well...no. That's fucked up, just let me off your shitty island! I'm sick of playing your shitty game!
Seamus: Ermm that's exactly why I trapped you here. I'm sick of jerk reviewers like you talking shit about the game we worked so damn hard on. So I've been baiting and then stranding conk reviewers like you, right here on my island. Then I break them mentally so that they love Trespasser. (laughs) I even got an inflatable costume all picked out just for you. Any other questions nerd?
The Nerd: Uh, yeah how about a proper T-Rex boss fight?
Seamus: You wanna fight a T-Rex? Fine, here's a T-Rex.
(A T-Rex costumed guy shows up brandishing a mace)
The Nerd: Um...that's the best you can do?
Seamus: I mean, the inflatable suits fit the budget. Oh, but check out what the T-Rex is holding.
The Nerd: Nedry's mace? Well that sucks for me, but its not too bad.
Seamus: No idiot, check his other hand.
(The T-Rex drops the mace and holds up an Xbox Duke contoller)
The Nerd: The Duke?? Holy shit! Seamus you gotta call him off.
Seamus: Uh! Uh! Uh! You didn't say the magic word.
(The Nerd runs away from the T-Rex in a first person view mimicking that of Anne)
The Nerd: Oh man. Oh geez. (gasps at the sight of a Mercedes car up ahead) A brand new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV. That's the perfect vehicle for escaping a T-Rex.
(The T-Rex roars as The Nerd gets into the car, gasping)
The Nerd: Step on it! (looks in the side mirror) Must go faster! Must go faster!
(Soon the car goes way ahead of the T-Rex)
The Nerd: Yes we lost him. Hey thanks for picking me up stranger, I didn't catch your name.
(The Nerds turns to see a guy in an inflatable raptor suit holding an Xbox Duke Controller)
Seamus: I'm Seamus, Seamus Blackley.
The Nerd: (as the camera pans over the island) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!