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Review: ‘Jurassic VR for Google Cardboard’ lacks bite

Like a sideshow carnival barker, 'Jurassic VR' promises more than the app delivers.

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By Jimi Stine

Pros: Big dinosaurs, and if you close your eyes and turn the sound off it's almost like you're Dr. Alan Grant from Jurassic Park.
Cons: Broken animation, gets old fast, you aren't actually Dr. Alan Grant from Jurassic Park.

If you've ever driven cross-country you'll know a thing or two about roadside attractions. You see billboards advertising the best tacos for hundreds of miles, and whether you want to or not, you stop to get some because you're just that curious, bored, and you really do love tacos. Of course they're never the best tacos in the world, and you definitely pay too much for them. Jurassic VR for Google Cardboard is the roadside attraction of VR games.

The images in 'Jurassic VR' are well-drawn, even if the animation is lacking.

I've loved Jurassic Park ever since I was a kid drinking out of a sippy-cup on the living- room floor. Dinosaurs have always fascinated me. Virtual reality offers a unique way of experiencing our lizard/bird friends, and at $1.99 one would hope an app would deliver when it says you'll "get immersed in the enchanted world when you see the Brachiosaurus eat from a tree or when you hear the T-Rex make his terrifying roar for the first time." It doesn't.

Watching the trailer provided on the Jurassic VR App Store page is pretty much all you get: detailed but oddly shiny dinosaurs striking mechanical poses. It's like a fast food pizza joint filled with robot dinosaurs but without the questionable slices or any of the fun.

Mechanics here are limited. Using the Google Cardboard's trigger or tapping the screen, starts and stops your walking (though even "walking" is here misleading as it implies you have some physical presence in the game world, and as far as these dinos are concerned, there isn't).

The dinosaurs don't interact with you in 'the Jurassic VR' app.

Moving your view turns the camera as you walk, and that's all there is to it. As mentioned the world doesn't really seem to notice you at all. In fact, the dinosaurs themselves don't seem to even notice one another. In all honesty this game is only a step or two away from being downright broken as many of the dinosaurs, particularly our air-born friends, aren't animated at all. They simply don't work.

There are I guess some redeeming qualities here if you really look. The dinosaurs, though disturbingly metallic, are well-detailed, and the sound effects, though they sound like they're coming through a old phone-booth from the 80s, are relatively robust.

The screenshots and trailer are, at the very least, honest in their depiction of the game, even if the nostalgia it draws on unfairly attracts us dinosaur-loving kids.

If you're still curious about this road-side taco, you can download the iOS version on the App Store for $1.99, or the Android version for free on Google Play.

—Jimi Stine is currently studying Narrative Design for Interactive Media at NYU and recently reviewed the VR app, VR Car Sim. He loves dinosaurs a lot as long as they aren't genetically re-created abominations trying to eat him.

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