Published on July 16th, 2018 | by Michael Newman0
Jurassic World: Evolution
People are fickle creatures by nature. They say they want to experience a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth and then they suddenly abandon you when they decide your park is too dangerous. So what if a few people got eaten when my cash flow dried up and my Ceratosaurus had no choice but to break free of its enclosure and snack on a few visitors. Is that really a reason to decide my park isn’t worth visiting any longer? I think not. That is just how things are when you are trying to build a combination of zoo and theme park in Frontier Developments’ latest park simulator game Jurassic World Evolution.
As a kid I used to spend time with my older sister playing dinosaur hunter with my old View-Master and some 3D slides of dinosaurs. We’d pretend that we had gone back in time to an age where dinosaurs walked the earth. As I got older, and technology improved dramatically, I had the opportunity to experience Jurassic Park when it was first released on the big screen and my simple exploration dream turned into a dream of what it would be like to experience this in real life. While dinosaur cloning hasn’t become an actual thing…yet, Jurassic World Evolution introduces you to a world of fossil digging, dinosaur incubating and park managing.
At it’s core, Jurassic World Evolution is a theme park management sim. It’s much less complex than Frontier’s other theme park sim, Planet Coaster, and of course brings with it the main draw of “living” dinosaurs. There are three major departments that you are trying to appease as you bring your park to life, Entertainment, Science and Security. As you play through the initial campaign, you will be given tasks from each department who are all trying to further their own agendas. Entertainment is focused on adding attractions, bringing people into your parks, and ensuring your profit margin is as high as possible. Science is focused on furthering the study of the dinosaurs, ensuring their survivability and tracking down and bringing to life numerous other species from around the globe. Finally, Security is trying to ensure that should a disaster strike, the proper fail-safes are in place to minimize the impact to the visitors and the park. While satisfying all three of these factions is the best way to make money and make your park a success, the tasks you do will impact your reputation with one department as you satisfy the requests of the others. It becomes a balancing act between ensuring each faction is as loyal and happy as possible (to avoid sabotage and espionage) and making enough money to ensure your park continues to function.
You begin the game with a sizable amount of money that you use to build your park and send teams on archeological digs around the world to unearth dinosaur fossils. The teams then bring back the fossils for you to practice your dinosaur cloning skills. Successful dinosaur cloning will result in absolutely breath-takingly detailed dinosaurs being added to your park. It’s up to you to ensure that the dinosaur enclosures are well suited and comfortable for the individual species of dinosaurs that will live in them. Each dinosaur has a specific set of traits that determine its’ comfort level. Some dinosaurs need grassland to run around in, while others are social creatures that don’t do well in solitary confinement. If your dinosaur’s comfort decreases below 50% they will attempt to break free of their enclosures and find what makes them happy and sometimes snacking on fear-stricken patrons is what they seek. So, keeping their comfort levels high is one key to avoiding major catastrophes in your park. After all, a happy dinosaur is one that is less likely to attempt an escape and snack on your paying patrons.
Ensuring your guest are happy and spending money is another key to running a successful park. Adding buildings and attractions for your guests to spend money on increases the rating of your park and adds additional cash flow. You will need all the cash you can get to keep things running smoothly and to prevent “accidents” from occurring. You will also need cash flow to research building improvements, finance other archeological digs, and ultimately continue to grow your park into what you had always envisioned it could be.
Graphically Jurassic World Evolution is absolutely stunning. The dinosaur models are gorgeous, and the weather effects (particularly when it’s raining) take on a near photo-realistic quality. This is easily one of the best-looking games available in this genre. When you aren’t busy managing the park, you’ll have the opportunity to pilot a helicopter and chase down escaped dinosaurs with your handy tranquilizer gun. You will also be given tasks where you will drive a Jeep through your park to do things such as replenish feeders or take pictures of your creations. The ability to traverse your park and get up close and personal with everything you have created is a real joy. As you progress, you can also unlock additional islands for you to create parks on and each island has its own unique challenges and adventures.
No game is perfect however, and Jurassic World Evolution certainly has a few issues. One of the more annoying issues I encountered is that some quests you are given are ones that you had already completed. Instead of the game recognizing I had already completed the quest, I had to redo what had already been done for the quest to continue. In the early stages of the game when you are asked to incubate a specific expensive breed of dinosaur when you have already done so (and it will cost you more than you can really afford to spend) it can get annoying fast. Some folks might also get tired of some of the more monotonous areas of the game, as flying a helicopter to tranquilize an escaped dinosaur the first dozen times you do it is exhilarating, but after that it can start to get a little stale. Additionally, there are some tasks that simply take time to complete such as waiting for a specific type of dinosaur to finish incubating before moving on to the next phase of the mission. As stated above there are ways to help pass the time (drive a Jeep and take some pictures for example), but an option to speed up the time just a bit would have been a real benefit. All-in-all though, these are pretty minor issues I had with an overall amazing game.
The developer Frontier is known for regularly updating their other games, including free (and paid) releases. While I think this game launches with an already incredible amount of variety, I suspect that Frontier will continue to add additional content and dinosaurs to the game. Considering the game launched without mod support (and whether mods will be supported in the future is still unclear) it’s important to have a developer who will continue to update the game and keep things fresh. This is an area that I believe Frontier will do an amazing job.
Jurassic World Evolution isn’t the perfect theme park simulation, but it’s pretty darn close. If you enjoy theme park simulators but have been intimidated by others on the market, you certainly should give this game a try. If you love dinosaurs or ever dreamed of owning your own Jurassic Park someday then this game is an absolute no brainer purchase. I was excited when I got my hands on it at E3, and the final release lived up to all my expectations and more. It’s truly an incredible game in one of this generations most beloved franchises. So, jump in the Jeep and “Welcome to Jurassic Park” (cue the Jurassic Park theme song).
What I liked: Stunning graphics, Accessible theme park management, Huge variety of dinosaurs
What I liked less: Some missions needing to be repeated for no reason
4.5 out of 5 stars