Rather than controlling a human, a cut scene shows the player in first-person view arrive in a lab and find a DinoVoc (a hand held computer screen that allows the user to send computerized calls to specially cloned dinosaurs) and the player takes control of dinosaurs in game. As they progress in the game, the dinosaurs are forced to battle different species of dinosaurs in order to search for the survivors.
Harrison Manly has planned the trip of a lifetime. He's leading five talented kids, winners of the Harrison Manly Junior Explorers Expedition Team essay contest, to Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. Located just off the coast of Costa Rica, Cabo Blanco offers a hands-on chance to experience a tropical jungle and to discover new plants and animals. Of course, Harrison is far too experienced to consult a map… When the group accidentally lands on InGen's infamous Site B, it doesn't take long to realize that the island is crawling with dinosaurs and that InGen may be up to something even more sinister than cloning dinosaurs...
As a newly recruited agent, the call goes out to you. Before you know it you're hang gliding into Isla Sorna, armed only with your wits. On the island you find tools to power up and control dinosaurs. You're on your way!
As the player lands on Isla Sorna, an InGen lab is entered. Here the player find notes from Dr. Irene Corts, an InGen scientist who has found a way to clone, genetically engineer, and control dinosaurs. She provides her dinosaurs with specific skills and then sends them commands over a device she calls the DinoVoc. The player also finds one of her experimental dinosaur eggs. The Velociraptor that grows from it has only bite, rest and dodge skills, but it's a start.
PlayIn the Lab, the player is able to see the dinosaur they are currently working with—here a Velociraptor—and the skills the dinosaur has—in this case a Bite skill. The lab contains all the tools needed to build up your dinosaur's skills with DNA.
As the dinosaur moves, they soon find other dinosaurs ready for a fight. Dino fights are viewed through the computer screen on the player's DinoVoc. This keeps the player at a safe distance from the dinosaurs and provides an interface to issue commands to the player dinosaur. There are two sets of commands to control the dinosaur in battle: Postures and Skills.
Commanding the Dinosaur - Postures
Posture buttons generally tell the playable dinosaur how close or far to stay from its opponent. There are four postures:
Use this posture to keep the dinosaur close to their opponent. For most attacks, they will need to be close by to hit the other dinosaur. But be careful, the offensive posture can use a lot of stamina since the dinosaur will chase after a fleeing opponent.
The Neutral command makes the dinosaur stay a few steps away from its opponent. The dinosaur doesn't usually run in the Neutral posture, so it won't use much stamina. Neutral is useful for sizing up an opponent.
In the Defensive posture the dinosaur will stay as far away as possible from its opponent. Since the dinosaur will run away if necessary, the Defensive posture can use a lot of stamina. Defensive also gives the player access to the Dodge and Rest skills.
The Flanking command tells the dinosaur to try to attack an opponent from the side, instead of head on. This is very useful when a fast dinosaur is fighting a slow, armored one, such as a Triceratops.
Commanding the Dinosaur - Skills
Each posture has skills that the dinosaur can use in battle. To command the dinosaur to use a skill, the player can click on the skill button.
The DinoVoc will send out a computerized call and the dinosaur will launch the attack if she is able to. Every skill takes up stamina, except Rest. If the dinosaur does not have enough stamina, she will not be able to carry out the skill. The DinoVoc keeps track of the dinosaur's health and stamina.
The orange bar shows how much health the dinosaur has left. Every time an opponent hits with a skill, the dinosaur loses health. When this bar reaches zero, the dinosaur will be knocked down and the fight is over. The green bar shows how much stamina the dinosaur has left. Stamina is used up by running and using skills. When this bar reaches zero, the dinosaur will be unable to walk, run or use a skill. Standing still or using the Rest skill is the best way to gain back stamina.
It is also possible to flee from battles.
The Rest Skill
The Rest skill will make the dinosaur stop and start healing. While resting, both the dinosaur's health and stamina will be restored. However dinosaur will not run away or attack another dinosaur while resting.
The Dodge skill increases the chance that the opponent's attack will miss. The Dodge skill should be used when the dinosaur is low on health against a tough opponent, but has more stamina than its opponent.
Certain skills have the ability to stun a dinosaur if they connect. If one dinosaur stuns another with one of these skills, it will be unable to respond for a few seconds after the attack. Stun skills will give the dinosaur a short amount of time to rest, or to flee from its opponent.
Piercing skills are the only attacks that can damage Ankylosaurus. In addition, they have the unique property that the damage they inflict is not affected by normal armor (except for Ankylosaurus. This makes piercing skills very useful against heavily armored dinosaurs, such as Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus, as well as Ankylosaurus. Piercing skills like Piercing Chomp (for T. rex) or Piercing Lash (for Stegosaurus) can be obtained by defeating particular dinosaur.
All of the dinosaurs encountered have some kind of armor. For the most part, armor subtracts from the damage a skill does.
The Ankylosaurus has a special kind of armor called Spiked Armor. This armor not only protects the dinosaur really well, but it can also cause damage to a dinosaur that tries to attack. The only way to beat an Ankylosaurus is to find and activate a piercing attack skill.
- Velociraptor: Small, fast and agile fighter. Strong against the average herbivore (particularly when the Velociraptor has a piercing skill) and small predators. Using it to beat the Ankylosaurus which sets traps will unlock Razor Shredder, a skill stronger than Slice and Dice.
- Stegosaurus: Medium size and speed fighter. Unreliable against most opponents.
- Triceratops: Large and slow fighter. It's somewhat effective against strong Raptors and some Carnivores (Note: Aaron's Triceratops is very difficult, and I found the only way to attack was by flanking with the Velociraptor). Strong against Ankylosaurs. (Note: All Triceratops opponents' health is at 220)
- Ankylosaurus: Small reliable fighter against all Dinosaurs. It is a very cheap victory against most enemies (including the final boss); in fact, only 6 total enemy dinosaurs can even damage Ankylosaurus (Slasher/Mature/Temple Guard/Maze Guard Velociraptor, and Lab Guard/Maze Guard Dilophosaurus), only Mature Velociraptor presents a real threat.
- Tyrannosaurus: Large strong fighter, good against most opponents despite its small amount of accurate attacks. Its rumored that some of its attacks double the value of certain DNA skills.
- Spinosaurus: Large powerful and versatile fighter, it can be used against nearly every opponent. Using it to beat the final boss unlocks Rising Stun, an attack that provides extra stamina rather than depleting it.
- Dilophosaurus (opponent only): Fast opponent, advanced Dilophosaurs have strong piercing attacks that can pierce through Ankylosaurus armor.
- Gallimimus (opponent only): Small, fast and weak opponent against all dinosaurs. No redeeming qualities.
- Pteranodon (item & one use only): Not a dinosaur, but a giant flying reptile that is only used as an item and it cannot be used to fight despite being one of the three great protectors (Pteranodon by Air, T. rex by Land, and Spinosaurus by Sea)
- The Primos are an illogical impossibility on Isla Sorna because they are never mentioned in the movies. However, there was a civilization on Isla Sorna and Isla Nublar before InGen bought the two islands from Costa Rican government.
- After using the combat simulator the background map music will stop playing for a long while or until the player quit the game and restart it.
- There are actually several unused skin variations for most dinosaurs in the game. Among them, are skins for a Dilophosaurus and Gallimimus that have "plyr" next to their file names and are located in the same general location as the other playable dinosaur skins, indicating that the player was originally intended to obtain a Gallimimus and Dilophosaurus as well at some point.
- Dinosaur Battles and Scan Command are the same game but Dinosaur Battles does not require a barcode scanner to progress.
- It is unknown why ancient paintings of the three Great Protectors can be found on the cave walls, since the original Primos apparently died out long before InGen cloned their dinosaurs.