From Fossil to Full-Blown Dinosaur Park - Jurassic World Evolution Review
The Jurassic Park movies have provided us with summer blockbuster fun for many years now, and it was about time that someone let us run a park of our own. In steps Frontier Developments with Jurassic World Evolution. Frontier are no strangers to park management sims, having done some excellent work on the Planet Coaster series. Like most of the movies, Jurassic World Evolution is all about the dinosaurs and fun, with a little bit of park management sprinkled throughout.
From Fossil to Dino
Jurassic World Evolution utilizes familiar faces from the movie franchise to help you get started with your very own dinosaur park. Your work takes places on an island, a series of islands actually, and you begin with a modest budget. As you learn about doing missions and research for various park factions, ranging from the scientific to entertainment and security, Jeff Goldblum will be among those that guide you in your quest. Speaking of the quest, aside from the various missions and contracts, what is your goal here? Well, it’s to build the best damn dinosaur park possible. That means you’re going to need unique attractions and ideally your park visitors won’t end up as the T-Rex’s lunch.
You build your park with a variety of structures serving different purposes. There are fast-food shops, clothing stores, hotels, and gift shops that will keep your visitors happy and your bank account filled. There are research centers, ranger stations, enclosures, and incubation centers that will house and breed your attractions. The stars of the game, the dinosaurs, do not grow on trees, nor can you order them from an online catalog, of course. Instead, you must send out research expeditions to various dig sites around the globe, which will dig up fossils which can then be examined to extract dinosaur DNA. Gather enough of a species’ genome, and you’ll be able to incubate an embryo yourself and hopefully end up with a glorious dinosaur of some type. While the process of researching, extracting, and building genomes never really stops, the actual breeding and releasing in your enclosures of dinosaurs never gets old. Each time one of your new creations is born and see the light of day, you get a close-up view of the magnificent beast as it first steps into the world. Hopefully, you put it with likeminded dinosaurs and didn’t leave a gap in the fence. Otherwise, it may start eating the first thing it sees.
That’s my Baby!
What surprised me the most was how much personality each species of dinosaur has in Jurassic World Evolution. Each dinosaur has some different attributes, ranging from as generic as whether it is a vegetarian or a carnivore, to how social it is, whether it prefers a forested area or not, and just how many other dinosaurs it will tolerate nearby. This lead me to develop an individual bond with my dinosaurs. You see, death comes for everyone, and while dinos can get sick and must then be healed with the help of your ranger teams, more on that later, none of them will cheat death caused by old age. So when my very first child suddenly dropped dead, I was first concerned, and then saddened when I realized that there was nothing I could have done. As it turns out, there are ways to alter the genome of dinosaurs to make them more robust under certain conditions, but in the end, they will all perish.
In another case, I had one very pesky dinosaur that kept escaping. After its third escape, during which I had to resort to using a helicopter to tranquilize the poor thing, then airlift it back into its enclosure after repairing the fence it chewed through, I paid closer attention to the little jerk. As soon as he woke from his dart gun induced slumber, he proceeded straight to the nearest fence and began attacking it until he was once again on the loose. Throughout all this, he ever attacked any of the rightly terrified park visitors. First I thought that was merely a side effect of his vegetarian trait, but I soon realized that this poor guy wasn’t out to cause havoc. Upon closer inspection, I realized that his enclosure was too populated for his liking and he was merely trying to make his way to a more private area. After performing some re-housing and paying closer attention to that species’ social tendencies, everything was right again in my park.
The different qualities and tendencies that each species brings with it create a unique park management situation wherein the dinosaurs are the real focus of Jurassic World Evolution, and that’s just the way it should be.
Junior Managers Unite
The overall management of your parks is relatively simple. There’s no pretending here that Jurassic World Evolution is some brilliant simulation that will test your skills as an executive park manager. In fact, during my many hours of playing the game, I barely ever looked at the details of my park’s finances. Yes, you can adjust pricing and staffing on individual buildings, but I never found a compelling reason to do so. Most of my management was confined to ensuring my structures had adequate power, protection from natural events (or escaped dinosaurs), and that transit options were available for my visitors.
Jurassic World Evolution is made up of a series of islands that you progress through. Each island comes with three primary missions, one in each category of science, entertainment, and security. Complete the tasks and you’re rewarded handsomely financially and unlock the next island. At any time you can jump back and forth between the islands and time virtually stands still while you’re gone. This is a good thing because no one wants to return to a dinosaur graveyard after not checking in on their starter island for a while.