Jurassic World Evolution Review
Way back in 2003, Operation Genesis introduced players to an exciting hybrid of theme park management with attractions that could swallow you whole. With 15 years of gaming evolution, does Jurassic World Evolution live up to its spiritual predecessor, or (in the immortal words of Ian Malcolm) is it one big pile of shit?
Jurassic World Evolution Review
Seldom does a video game adaptation of a Hollywood franchise ever manage to replicate its big screen success, but if one had the potential, it would be Jurassic World Evolution. Hot on the heels of a box office smash of a reboot, Jurassic World Evolution hopes to combine the hype of main stream entertainment with the unique appeal of a park simulator. And with Frontier Developments (Planet Coaster, Roller Coaster Tycoon 3) at the helm, it had every chance of meeting those lofty expectations.
If there’s one element of Jurassic Park that Jurassic World Evolution captures, it’s the dinosaurs. After a few hours play, I decided to restart, knowing more about the mechanics of the game and the different dinosaurs I could throw up in a lab. My go-to was a huge herd of Struthiomimus, a chirpy little herbivore that adores large groups. While not as exciting as some of its bigger cousins, a large herd of them was a sight to behold, as my initial guests were left flabbergasted at the natural wonder of such a dinosaur. It didn’t take long before I, and the guests, grew rather bored and moved on to bigger things. Much…bigger…things.
Like any man in his mid 30s looking to relive the nostalgic years of youth when the first Jurassic Park movie was released, I turned my attention to the carnivores of the Jurassic. The franchises staple badasses, Velociraptors, and the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex. Separating the two, for obvious reasons, I constructed two large pens (complete with home reared goats ready to serve up a three course meal), high fences, and viewing platforms. I was ready to make Mr. Hammond proud.
And I did. The guests flocked to my park, and it was thriving. The businesses I placed down, gently draining my overzealous guests of every last dime they had, my dinosaurs seemingly running around in glee without a care in the world. Throughout all of this I was aiding the Science, Entertainment, and Security division representatives with various tasks and dull objectives, just to help increase my park’s cash flow. Then it happened.
Like some lunatic ex hell-bent on destroying my life because I took more than three minutes to respond to a text message, Dr. Kajal Dua of the Science Division went full psycho. As I had neglected her contracts and instead spent time with the Security and Entertainment Divisions, she apparently felt a little left out. Did she send an email? Arrange a board meeting? Speak with the investors? Nope. She sabotaged three of my power stations, leaving my entire park without power.
The Velociraptors were the first to go, chomping through the once-powerful electric fence like it was goat flesh. Quickly they pounced, devouring guests as they fled. For a brief moment, I found myself admiring one of nature’s finest predators before another of nature’s finest predators made an appearance. Once the T-rex was out, it was clear I was to share the fate of good ol’ Robert Muldoon. Outmatched by the ferocity of species I thought I could control and more than likely to end my experience missing a limb…or two.
After about $500,000 worth of lawsuits from my, uh, expired guests, my adventure was done. Once again I began anew, hoping I could find a way.
What initially began as a thrilling and exciting journey of failure and discovery quickly descended into one of frustration and disappointment. While Jurassic World Evolution perfectly encapsulates the dinosaurs with excellent animations and unique behavioral patterns, it doesn’t seem to put much attention into anything else.
One would expect a park of this natural wonder to be alive with the hustle and bustle of an excited consumer base waiting to see the marvelous wonders that await. While the game does pack in some serious numbers, it’s four to five different models of visitors used over, and over, and over, and over again. They have no personality and no traits, and they fail to interact with the park in any meaningful way. They buy whatever you throw at them.
To make matters worse, they lack any level of intelligence. Simply being with a certain range of a dinosaur would send some into a downward spiral of insanity, herding together like a group of lemmings waiting for the inevitable. They would spent 10 minutes walking down a path of power stations and other management-based buildings, opting to ignore the attractions in the other direction in favor of staring at a few pylons.
This lack of depth and personality seeps out into every facet of the game. Managing the park and finances is as simple as changing a few sliders every 20-25 minutes. Construction has no room for creativity outside of a single monorail; there’s no rides, no exciting attractions. It’s shocking how little effort was put into innovation, outside of the dinosaur selling point.
Further exacerbating the problem is a ridiculously petty contract system that sees you completing contracts for different parts of the company. At one point I had my Science Division indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds, and the next my Security Division was asking me to raise a dangerous carnivore and unleash it on the park to test my security protocols. Repetitive objectives and unimaginative challenges…it’s all very disappointing.
Jurassic World Evolution is an okay game. There is plenty of fun to be had testing your ability to create large pens of dinosaurs living in harmony. Watching a Velociraptor stalk its prey, the first time you hear the iconic roar of the Tyrannosaurus Rex…it does the Jurassic franchise proud. However, Jurassic World Evolution could have been an amazing game if the developers had just used some of the staple elements of park simulation games from the past. You know, like that Theme Park game that launched in 1994?