“Man selects only for his own good: Nature only for that of the being which she tends.” – Charles Darwin
Developer: Frontier Developments
Released: June 2018
Price: £34.99 -£39.99
Jurassic World Evolution is a building and management simulator where the aim is to successfully recreate and run cinema’s most dangerous tourist destination (think Rollercoaster Tycoon with teeth!). Players must construct and profitably operate their theme park in addition to bioengineering the toothy attractions, and keeping the dinosaurs and the guests safe!
Whilst the game includes both sandbox and challenge modes, this review will focus on the main campaign. This is made up of a series of unlockable islands on which parks must be built, each with own set of unique challenges, such as stormy weather, space limitations and financial ruin.
Progress through the different locations will also unlock a variety of new items including buildings, dig sites, and dinosaur species. The player begins each island in Jurassic World Evolution with very limited resources and must build up each park from next to nothing.
The building process starts off as a bit of a challenge, requiring careful money management and planning however there is a consistently sharp turning point where as little as one successful action can remove almost all of the financial difficulty from that point onwards.
Designing and constructing the park is an entertaining process overall but whilst the easing of monetary constraints provides more freedom to build, it can also lessen the inherent satisfaction. Not unlike other aspects of the game, installing buildings, fences, paths and other items can be frustrating, requiring minute mouse movements to be peaceable, with the various building constraints often being unclear, inconsistent or somewhat illogical.
As expected in this genre of game, guest satisfaction must be monitored and needs catered to accordingly. In Jurassic World Evolution, this is largely based on availability and quality of facilities (food, drink, shopping, toilets and shelter) as well as the range, quantity, quality and visibility of the dinosaurs within the park. Other factors such as transport and overcrowding can also have an impact.
In addition to looking after guests, the player must gain reputation with the three park divisions; science, entertainment and security. The different teams are evidently prone to jealousy as a good balance must be maintained in order to reduce the risk of sabotage by unfavoured departments. Reputation and money are awarded when completing contracts for a specific division but often incur a reputation penalty from another team. There is also a main mission for each division on each island that provide much more substantial rewards.
There are a number of gameplay elements relating to the dinosaurs in Jurassic World Evolution beginning with discovering new genomes, sending expedition teams for fossils, extracting DNA to improve viability, incubation and release into a pre-built enclosure. At this point, things can get tricky with each species having its own environmental, nutritional and social preferences.
As well as being kept fed and hydrated, each creature needs to maintain a level of comfort which will depend on the nature and size of its surroundings as well as the quantity and species of other dinosaurs that are housed with it. Failure to keep the animals content will result in fighting and breakouts.
Escaped dinosaurs can cause damage to structures and endanger guests and must be sedated and moved by an ACU team while a ranger team repairs any broken fences. These teams are also responsible for dinosaur sales, resupplying feeders, medicating the dinosaurs when ill, and corpse removal, most of which can be assigned as tasks or carried out manually by players wanting to get closer to the action.
There is a vast selection of dinosaur species available to unlock in Jurassic World Evolution, herbivores, carnivores and piscivores of varying sizes, some cute, others majestic and a few that are utterly terrifying. All of which can be modified in different ways, from changing the appearance to improving physical attributes such as attack power, resilience or lifespan. Whilst the factual and visual accuracy of the dinosaurs and related information is unclear, it is all believable enough to be entertaining.
Each island has a slightly different aesthetic feel, largely due to terrain and climate, but the overall visual effect is one of vibrant realism with the dinosaur models and textures being a particular highlight. The UI is similarly colourful but clean in presentation, it is relatively intuitive and easy to use for the most part.
The audio in Jurassic World Evolution is slightly lacklustre, though there are some noteworthy blood-curdling roars and nostalgic musical numbers to accompany the familiar voices of Jeff Goldblum and Chris Pratt amongst others, playing their characters from the cinematic franchise and chiming in with the occasional bit of advice, information or just narration.
Jurassic World Evolution provides a new twist on the tried and tested theme park building games and provides an engaging and entertaining game that is easy to get caught up in. It is a fairly casual experience with not much more than fleeting problems and the occasional tense moment.
It will provide tens of hours of gameplay even without the many available DLC and manages to remain compelling at its comfortable pace making it easy to recommend. However, fans of more complex building and management simulators may find this game to be a little on the easy side.