Jurassic: The Hunted is a bargain-priced first-person shooter for people who thought Turok was too high-brow. Developed by Cauldron, the Slovakian creators of numerous budget shooters over the years, Jurassic: The Hunted has two things gamers like: lots of dinosaurs and easily-obtainable achievement points. While hardly a classic, Jurassic is more fun than its dubious pedigree would lead you to believe.
At the start of Jurassic: The Hunted, your soldier character Dylan and his friend Rock are on a mission to find a scientist who went missing many years ago in the - cue ominous music - Bermuda Triangle. Since this is the Bermuda Triangle, some weird stuff happens and Dylan, Rock and the scientist's attractive daughter are forced to bail out of their plane when it gets attacked by electricity.
Now on the ground of an uncharted not-so-desert island, Dylan sets out to find his missing comrades and get back to civilization. Standing in between the player and the finish line are...dinosaurs!
Bet you didn't see that one coming.
After finding a couple of guns and shooting a few chicken-sized dinosaurs, Dylan hits the trail. While the island looks large, the path through each of the game's 14 levels is very linear; it's impossible to get lost while playing Jurassic: The Hunted. Dinosaurs, usually in packs, will leap out and attack every so often and your mission is to shoot them before they're picking you out of their teeth. Sometimes dinosaurs just warp into existence by the power of magic and special effects. Thankfully the designers don't cheaply spawn dinos in behind you too often, although it still does happen from time to time.
Most of the dinosaurs in Jurassic: The Hunted are smallish bipedal reptiles like raptors that enjoy lunging at you. But with only seven or eight different types of dinosaurs, you're going to see the same few types over and over. Cameo appearances by a couple of gigantic Tyrannosaurs and a Spinosaur help out a bit, but some more variety would have been nice. Giant scorpions round out the bestiary, although their appearance is limited to a couple of areas.
Dinosaur-blasting is handled with a variety of handguns, machine guns, shotguns, crossbows, grenades, and rocket launchers; there are even a couple of Civil War weapons (don't ask). Unlike most modern shooters that only allow you to carry two weapons at a time, Jurassic: The Hunted lets players carry about five, and each one has an upgradeable magazine. The gunplay in the game isn't amazing, but is competent enough.
Jurassic: The Hunted also has a bullet-time feature that briefly slows down time and highlights sensitive areas of the dinosaurs' anatomy like brains, hearts, and lungs, allowing for one-hit kills if your shots strike the right places. It's a decent - if overdone - gimmick that comes in handy when you're getting swarmed.
Every now and then throughout his adventure Dylan will come upon a crude wooden fort that he has to defend: raptors try and get in through the windows and you have to blast the rampaging reptiles and nail boards over the windows in an attempt to keep the dinosaurs at bay. While there are only a few of these siege sequences in Jurassic: The Hunted, they're surprisingly entertaining and fairly tense.
Jurassic: The Hunted also features a few turret sequences where you man a fixed gun emplacement and blast incoming dinosaurs. These shooting gallery bits are okay, but the lack of a checkpoint in one of lengthier ones might have you cursing the designers.
If Jurassic: The Hunted didn't feature dinosaurs, it wouldn't be that great of a game: the campaign can be beaten in around 3 - 4 hours; the story and dialog are laughable (albeit in a good way); and the shooting rarely rises above average. Dinosaurs go a long way towards making Jurassic: The Hunted a good guilty pleasure; factor in decent production values and a budget price and a lot of the flaws can be overlooked.
While Jurassic: The Hunted doesn't have any multiplayer options, a survival mode extends the life of the game a bit. Survival mode functions like the fort sieges from the main game: you are behind the wooden wall of a ramshackle fort, and you have to use mounted weapons, guns, and grenades to repel attacking waves of dinosaurs. Repairing holes in the walls helps to hold back the murderous beasts, and surviving waves unlocks new weapons. Each wave adds tougher dinosaurs, and more of them. You can't win at survival mode; your goal is just to live as long as you can and upload your score to an online leaderboard as a permanent testimonial to your ability - or lack thereof - to survive a dinosaur holocaust. Survival mode is fun, but with only one map the fun will eventually play itself out. In a nice touch, parts of a .50 caliber machine gun are scattered throughout the singleplayer campaign, and if you find them all you can use this weapon to mow down the leathery hordes in Survival mode.
Presentation-wise, Jurassic: The Hunted acquits itself fairly well: the graphics are respectable, with nicely-modeled and animated dinosaurs and decent environments. In-game human characters don't look very good, but you never see them outside of a few sparing cutscenes, so it's not too big a deal. The frame-rate is a bit sluggish most of the time, but can be lived with. Audio is average: the guns sound okay, and the dinosaurs sound alright. Music is sparing, but can be suspenseful at times. The metallic guitar riffs that play during some of the bigger action sequences are kind of silly, though. Voice acting is equal parts ham and cheese, although the script doesn't do the earnest voice actors any favors. At least you can - and will - laugh at the dialog, so that's something.
Jurassic: The Hunted features 31 Xbox 360 achievements totaling 1000 GamerScore points. You'll have to play through the game at least twice - including once on Hard mode - to get all of the achievements, but most of them are pretty easy. There are also a few 0G achievements that can be picked up by dying in amusing ways. The rest of the achievements are pretty straightforward, and involve the usual things like finishing the game; killing certain amounts of dinosaurs; getting at least one kill with each weapon; and beating the game without dying. Playing through the game once on Normal difficulty will net most players around 18 - 20 achievements. Amusingly, some of the names of the achievements are direct quotes from the Jurassic Park movies.
Jurassic: The Hunted is a better game than it has any right to be. You'll forget the game as soon as you've finished playing it, but if you like shooting dinosaurs and getting lots of achievement points for shooting said dinosaurs, you can do a lot worse than this.