Jurassic Park and subsequently, Jurassic World are a part of a gargantuan franchise that has been used in literally every form of media out there. When it comes to games there's been sidescrollers, point and click, action, adventure, park tour and of course park management games. While the vast majority of these games have been sub-par in terms of quality, Jurassic Park Operation Genesis is one example where a game was generally liked by fans as it embodied what the movies were really about – dinosaurs and running a park. Released way back in 2003, the long wait for a sequel of sorts is over with Jurassic Park Evolution brought to us by the stellar Frontier Developments, best known for their work on the Elite franchise. So let's see how managing dinos holds up today and if they still have the "wow" factor they had back then.
Jurassic World Evolution is available for purchase on Steam.
Right off the bat, I'm going to say that Jurassic Park Evolution offers an addicting gameplay loop of building up and managing your park and if you are a fan of the genre – you'll probably going to love what it has to offer. Taking place in the Muertes Archipelago featured in the movies, you'll visit each island with the goal of building a successful dinosaur park. How successful you are, depends on two categories – the dinosaurs and facilities you have in your park. The higher rating will attract more people which will translate to better earnings which you can spend to increase the rating even further.
Rating is also the main factor which determines your progression and at certain milestones, you unlock other islands in the archipelago that present you with a different set of challenges and more research options. Starting out, you get a relatively small plot of land, an expedition and fossil center equipped with a power plant. Later islands will give you different land layouts, increased danger of storms, wild roaming dinosaurs and other problems to deal with.
You'll usually begin by sending out a helicopter to locations all around the world to collect DNA samples from dinosaur digs to complete their genome. Once a genome is at 50%, you can create the dino keeping in mind that it will be more authentic if you sample more of his genome and will consequently have a higher rating. Land management is probably the most important thing when planning and building your park. Dinosaur enclosures will take up most of the space and you need to plan them carefully not only to satisfy the dinosaurs inside but to also have enough space for both other enclosures and utility or entertainment buildings.
When it comes to must-have utility structures, your main resource is electricity which you get by building power plants and connecting them to any and all buildings that might use it. Another type of must-have utility building is the weather protection that will keep your buildings safe during a heavy storm, although not with a 100% efficiency. To earn more cash and get a good facility rating, the park must be covered with food, drink and entertainment facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and other. If playing on one of the bigger maps, the monorail is also a must have since it will better satisfy the visitors and provide more view coverage for the dinosaurs if it goes over their enclosures. Overall, although the buildings are made with gameplay balance in mind, there's just not that much variety to make your park look insanely different each time you play like in Roller Coaster Tycoon for example.
Dinosaurs are ultimately the stars of the show and the most dynamic part of the game. They will bring most of the income to your park and build up the overall park rating the most. Each of them has a designated rating with larger dinos having a bigger rating, especially if they are carnivores. You can boost this rating and their stats by applying mutations that you can research as you progress through the islands. Each one also has several satisfaction sliders that if not fulfilled will make them go on a rampage which usually results in killing other dinosaurs or breaking through the fence and attacking the guest which will, of course, sue you for ludicrous amounts of money.
The sliders include how much of the enclosure area is covered by forest and how much by grass, how many other dinosaurs are inside the enclosure and more. The first two are probably the ones I had the most problems with since space is the most precious resource that had me making some tough decisions. When a dino goes haywire or becomes sick, you can assign rangers to automatically sedate it and transport it to an enclosure via a helicopter. However, in a most welcome addition, it's more fun doing it by yourself and take direct control of vehicles and rangers to shoot them down. Not only does this give you more options to interact with the park but it also looks gorgeous thanks to the great visuals.
Aside from rampaging dinosaurs, other potential dangers to your park will most certainly be tropical thunderstorms and sabotage. The latter will occur if you ignore one of the three divisions that govern your park. There are the science, entertainment and security division and each will offer you contracts revolving around their area of expertise which upon completion will award you money, research options and other.
One of the few gripes I had with the game is the visibility mechanic. This mechanic makes dinosaurs visible to guest only from certain structures constructed on the fence or the walls of an enclosure. Roads and pathways, however, offer no visibility, even if a see-through fence is right next to a busy pathway and a T-Rex is staring at the passersby, it will be like your T-Rex doesn't exist. Another much-needed feature I missed was any sort of fast-forward option as waiting for expeditions to come back and finish a genome can feel like a chore and it can be a long wait to acquire a certain sum of money for a more expensive project.
Another problem with the game is the glaring absence of aquatic and flying dinosaurs which I presume will be a part of some future DLC. The game already received one free update to coincide with the Jurassic World movie coming out and the dinosaurs there are a more than welcome addition to the fairly substantial dino roster.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
Screenshots will give you an idea of the amount of graphical detail that's present in every segment of the visuals. The fact that this game, which is meant to be played from a bird's eye perspective most of the time sometimes looks better than many boots on the ground, up close and personal games is an achievement in and of itself.
The environment is lush, saturated with color and highly detailed. Blades of grass and trees sway in the wind, as do the certain building elements. The water and rain look great and the general atmosphere of a tropical storm is faithfully recreated and a sight to behold. Despite that, the true star of the show in both gameplay and visuals are the dinosaurs. They were evidently given the most attention and not only are they insanely detailed but also feature a huge number of different animations that bring them to life like never before.
The sound and music follow the visuals in terms of quality and supplement them to form a superb audio-visual package. There is a number of original ambient tracks as well as the iconic franchise music featured throughout. Even Jeff Goldblum lends his quirky charm to narrating a couple of philosophical lines about humans meddling in evolution. But coup de grace of the game will most definitely be when you first hear the T-Rex's roar thundering across the park and it will be completely clear that Jurassic World Evolution is a game made with utmost care and love for the franchise.
It took me around 25 hours to unlock all the content Jurassic World Evolution has to offer and even then I'm inclined to go back for some unlimited cash, sandbox mode and try to build a perfect functioning park. As mentioned, the game offers a fun and addicting gameplay loop that despite the overall impression isn't all about the park rating.
Although the financial side of the management segment is actually quite shallow it doesn't detract from the overall depth of the game. There is plenty of nuance and systems in place to still make some of the scenarios on offer a challenge. Future DLC's could further spice up the much-needed variety in terms of buildings but as far as the dinosaurs go, Jurassic World Evolution is the perfect playground and more than a worthy successor to Operation Genesis.
|+ Fun and addicting gameplay||– Lack of building variety|
|+ Great dinosaur variety||– Absence of aquatic and flying dinosaurs|
|+ Superb visuals and audio||– Unreasonable dino-visibility mechanic and a lack of a fast-forward option|