Jurassic World Evolution is a park building management sim that allows you to recreate Jurassic Park, dealing with the dangers, costs and other challenges involved in building and maintaining a zoo attraction with highly dangerous and intractable dinosaurs. And indeed, it recreates many of the film’s troupes in a compelling, gamified way, providing an experience that’s challenging yet hugely satisfying in precisely the way you’d expect a management title to be.
Building and maintaining your parks across multiple islands is an involved process, you’ll be consumed by the building of paths and structures, powering these structures, designing enclosures that fit your dinosaur’s needs, tasking your rangers and asset containment units (ACUs) to deal with problems, as well researching new technologies, hatching new dinosaurs, and monitoring the park’s income and continuing to developed it into the best, safest and most profitable park it can be. Meanwhile, the entertainment, science and security divisions will each have missions for you to complete, furthering your reputation with them and unlocking even more buildings and dinosaur options. It’s a busy game, rarely giving you the opportunity to relax and simply enjoy the view.
And what a view it is, with some absolutely incredible animation and high quality textures bringing the extinct animals to life. Meanwhile, excellent terrain and weather details makes each island you’re tasked with building a park on a believable place. But the aspect of presentation that truly stands out is the audio, specifically the sounds of the dinosaurs. Hearing the Jurassic Park roar of a T-Rex never gets old, and its inclusion here adds to the authenticity of the experience in a big way.
However, what lets the experience down is the script. Each division head, as well as the CEO, frequently communicates with you, giving you missions, making comments on your management of the parks, and adding elements to the plot. It’s often terrible, with ridiculously clichéd and inane sentences coming from these characters. Even the dulcet tones of Jeff Goldblum fails to escape the poor writing, and it hurts the immersion each time one of these characters pipes up.
Fortunately, with a little selective hearing, you can overcome this obstacle and enjoy the management aspects. Jurassic World Evolution treads the thin line of micro-management, as such you won’t be engaging with staff hiring and firing for the many guest facilities on offer and you won’t be adjusting ticket prices, although you do have the option of adjusting individual prices at these guest facilities, such as the cost of food. Instead your attention will be focused on the dinosaurs and their care, building enclosures of the right size, with the right food sources included, with the right levels of forest, grassland and water, and the right mixture of species. Meanwhile, your rangers must be tasked with repairing structures, resupplying food dispensers, and treating illness and injury. Your ACU helicopters will need to be directed to tranquilise dinosaurs that have escaped or otherwise need moving, moving the dinosaurs from one location to another, and removing dead dinosaurs. All of these tasks must be manually assigned to rangers or ACU staff, where you can then either allow them to complete their task or you can take direct control and drive/fly around and perform them yourself.
You won’t find much time to get so personally involved, however, as managing the aforementioned aspects is quite the involved and challenging endeavour. You’ll need to dispatch dig crews to find fossils that are then used in the lab to extract DNA to support your cloning of these dinosaurs. Meanwhile, you’ll need to choose which dinosaurs to hatch and organise moving them to their enclosures, which you must build and prepare to meet that dinosaur’s needs. These needs can be studied from your control menu with InGen’s information for each dinosaur, but the majority of the data you need will come from actually having a live specimen in the park. Here you’ll learn what terrain best suits the dinosaur and how social they are with members their own species as well as others. If their comfort levels drop too low they’ll attack the fences, eventually breaking out and causing harm or death to your visitors.
Furthermore, power is a constant concern. Each building requires it, as well as the electrified fences – if you choose to use them – and a power failure not only prevents these structures from functioning but can spook your dinosaurs, or provide an all too tempting opportunity for the craftier ones, which can lead to fences being broken and your dinosaurs escaping. Add to that the threat of each division possibly sabotaging your buildings if they feel you’ve not been paying attention to their missions and the list of things you needs to manage quickly adds up.
However, this is the best part of Jurassic World Evolution, it recreates the kind of situations we’ve seen in the films in a clever, division mission-driven way, and the frequent need to scan your park and task your ranger and ACU staff to deal with issues keeps you busy between the actual building of the parks. It’s great and hugely engaging.
Moreover, the controller mapping is excellent. Moving and building within your park is simple and intuitive with camera controls for zooming on the triggers and panning and tilting on the analogue sticks, and menu navigation takes advantages of designated buttons for very quick and easy access to the frequently used rangers and ACU staff, as well as fossil extraction and selling.
Jurassic World Evolution isn’t the most unique title, 15 years ago Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis pulled off the dinosaur zoo management concept successfully and Jurassic World Evolution shares many of the same mechanics and features. However, it’s still an absolute treat to experience this kind of management title again, with hugely increased performance and visuals thanks to the marvels of modern hardware. Additionally, Frontier have done a tremendous job of weaving the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World film’s lore into the experience, making you feel like you are part of this world. And running a park with dinosaurs as the attraction is just superb fun, both when everything is going well and, possibly even more so, when the dinosaurs escape and it all goes wrong.
Thanks to Xbox and MAVERICK PR for supporting TiX