I find a lot of the time that video games’ mixed reception typically stems from two types of players: people who go in expecting something entirely different and end up hating it, and people who do their research and are pleasantly surprised. I was in the latter group and, as such, I’m very pleased with this purchase. Jurassic World Evolution is a theme park simulator in which you can research and hatch dinosaurs, manage essentials like park security, entertainment, and transportation, and juggle between the welfare and happiness of both your genetically modified friends and the guests who come to see them. It’s a game you have to sink hours into before things really get moving, but if you’re a fan of dinosaurs or even just of theme park sims, you’ll find that initial time investment flies by.
When you begin, you’re only able to access a handful of facilities and dig sites, meaning the dinosaur menagerie of your dreams–because, let’s be honest, T-Rex versus Triceratops is every kid’s dream–won’t be possible right off the bat. As you build your park into 5-star retreats, you’ll unlock more dinosaurs and ways to genetically modify them as well as new facilities for visitors to patronize.
The game takes place across a string of islands aptly named Las Cinco Muertes–the five deaths. As you’ve probably guessed, there are five islands for you to build your parks on, each of which has its own climate, terrain, and frequency of weather-based emergencies: Isla Matanceros, Isla Muerta Isla Tacano, Isla Pena, Isla Sorna, and Isla Nubla.
You’re allowed to do things at your own pace and the game is good about providing steps towards success without holding your hand. There are three different divisions–science, security, and entertainment–which create the core factors of your park’s total score. The heads of each divison will give you tasks that you can complete for cash rewards and reputation points. Tasks range from taking photographs of dinosaurs with specific parameters to keeping the peace in your park for a set amount of time and increasing your reputation is key to unlocking new facilities.
The most important facilities for your park operations are the Expedition Centers, Fossil Centers, and Hammond Creation Labs. This trio allows you to gather fossils, extract DNA, and create dinosaurs respectively. You’ll also need a Research Center, which will set your science team to work on finding ways to make your other facilities more productive and discover new DNA mutations for your dinosaurs. No park is complete without security,
Additionally, you’re able to build shops and restaurants to keep visitors fed and entertained as well as transportation to take them effortlessly from one side of the park to the other. Finally, there’s different viewing galleries range from simple platforms which guests will pay to enter and see your specimens via binoculars to the gyrostations, which fans of the movie will recognize to be those spherical vehicles that let your guests enter the dinosaur enclosures and roll around amongst them.
There are limitations to your building: each requires space, naturally, but facilities also need to be powered. Plants supply the necessary electricity, but each has an output limit, so you’ll need to build more as your park’s power needs rise. The terrain can be sculpted to your liking and you can add/remove trees and water in addition to raising or flattening land so long as you have the extra cash.
Jurassic Park Evolution sets itself apart from other theme park simulation games by allowing you to actually take direct control of your rangers, meaning you can drive their Jeeps and fly their helicopters as well as replenish feeders and tranquilize/medicate dinosaurs. If you don’t want to take the hands-on route, you can simply assign tasks to the AI, but this is an exciting action to have, particularly when a dinosaur gets free and you need to hunt it down and tranquilize it before it harms itself or others. The way vehicles and guns control feels great despite not being the focus, lacking the stiffness or clunkiness that I’ve found in other games that have these sort of bonus gameplay methods.
The game is gorgeous from the textures of the water and terrain to the dinosaurs that you can actually set the camera to follow so that you can watch them explore their habitats and interact with other dinosaurs. That AAA budget also allowed for some star power to be hired for the voice overs and characters are actually voiced by the actors and actresses who played them in the movies.
- The ability to take control of rangers and get up close and personal with your favourite dinos.
- Dinosaurs. Coolness level second only to dragons.
- Huge amounts of replayability thanks to the Isla Nubla. Get your park just the way you want it without having to worry about cost.
- Full voice acting from the movie cast.
- Slow to start. Unlocking the cooler stuff takes an investment of time.
- Down time. There’s no way to fast forward time, so sometimes you have to twiddle your thumbs and wait for a task to complete.
While an FPS where you survive a dinosaur outbreak like in the movies would be neat, Jurassic Park Evolution’s park simulation gameplay is still a welcomed offering. The controls work well on console and building a theme park is a streamlined process thanks to gentle nudges from the game, though you’re given creative freedom for the most part. Bear in mind you’ll need to invest some time before things really get moving, but it’s well worth the effort once you build your perfect park and see all your favourite dinosaurs frolicking in habitats of your own making.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.