Perceiving Jurassic World Evolution in its fledgling form as anything but bare bones would do a disservice to what the game has flowered into. A wealth of improvements from a dedicated team have shaped what began as a vapid and lifeless park builder into a rich and exciting experience true to the Jurassic World Universe. But while the steady stream of modern day Ingen content is satisfying, perhaps the greatest achievement so far comes in the form of the third DLC – Return to Jurassic Park. Going back to Isla Nublar is nostalgia overload, a joyous adventure that, most importantly, feels much more than a re-skin. While it’s full of familiar character, it makes use of every aspect of the games now expansive package, making this is the first essential piece of DLC for Evolution.
Set after the events of the original film, Return to Jurassic Park sees John Hammond convincing the cast of the ’93 film to join him on a second attempt at running his prehistoric venture, along with a much younger version of Evolution’s Cabot Finch. There’s something really special about hearing the voices of Ellie Sattler and Sam Neill reprise their respective roles, and Mackenzie Gray does a fantastic job of voicing Hammond in place of the late Richard Attenborough. The seven missions, spread across both Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna, have a great balance between rebuilding the original park, as well as managing the open, fence-less layouts of Site B to give a unique campaign that feels totally different to anything the game has offered before.
Early missions heavily rely on you manually driving the ranger vehicle, manually repairing buildings and tranquillising the velociraptors that previously caused havoc to the park. Once complete, rebuilding begins, and it feels great to plant iconic buildings unique to the expansion. While gated dinosaur paddocks still exist in Isla Nublar, especially for carnivorous species, the map feels more like a safari park, with massive free flow areas for herbivores. It creates excellent, original challenges unlike anything the game has offered before, especially as you expand – getting the balance between species right is difficult and easily lead to disease outbreaks if you aren’t careful.
The DLC also introduces a new safari ride to take your visitors around your park. Just like the Gyrosphere, experimenting with routes can be fun but frustrating, mostly because the path tool is still painfully cumbersome to handle. It’s not always easy to accurately lay tracks the way you want to, but luckily the tool allows you to chop and change sections quickly if need be, but it’s still one of the things the game needs to improve.
Return to Jurassic Park has the lowest new dinosaur count out of all of the payable DLC, but it makes up for it by introducing two classic film species; the tiny but dangerous Compsognathus, and the games first airborne dinosaurs, the Pteranodon. The latter is easily the most exciting, and although they may not fly freely around the park, (rather, they’re housed in a special new Aviary building), they look incredible and it’s a fantastic way to introduce airborne species. As well as introducing two new dinosaurs, several old species have been granted new (old) skins that keep with the early 90’s theme. It’s great to see the T-Rex, Velociraptors and Triceratops in their original form – and it’s even better that you can go on to use them on any map going forward.
The campaign isn’t particular long, in fact, you can probably see it through in five or so hours, but Return to Jurassic Park is more than just an expensive nostalgia trip. Both sandbox mode and challenge mode are available for both islands, and there’s a bunch of experimenting to be had with the new features, building and dinosaurs available. There’s a whole bunch of new signs and park decorations included too, and while most of these are limited to sandbox mode, they’re a much welcome addition.
If you’re new to Evolution and picking up the DLC alongside the base game, be aware that the title is far from perfect. It’s still an incredibly light management simulation, especially from a developer that has proven many times over that they can produce very in-depth titles. It’s missing many aspects of what some would consider basic management options – like viewing guests needs by clicking on individual persons, or properly being able to manage finances. They’ve only recently added guests bathroom needs, something most would consider a basic option in a management simulation. It’s impossible to say if, going forward, we’ll get any improvements in this field, but it’s still the weakest aspect of the entire game.
Return to Jurassic Park is easily the best DLC Evolution has received so far. The sense of nostalgia you receive when you first open those iconic gates fills you with giddy excitement, but above all else, the DLC is absolutely solid enough on its own to function with or without those fuzzy reminiscent feelings.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Jurassic World Evolution: Jurassic Park Edition Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 9/10
The third DLC for Jurassic World Evolution is easily the best yet, offering warm, fuzzy nostalgia and great new mechanics.