Jurassic World Evolution Is A Clumsy But Fun Park Builder

Movie tie-ins are a gamble that usually ends with a lacklustre game. For every Spider-Man 2, there's a dozen games that are clunky and not worth your time. Jurassic World Evolution falls somewhere in between.

It's not the most detailed park-building sim, but if you embrace some of its clumsiness, you'll find yourself lost in the fantasy of being a dinosaur park mogul.

Jurassic World Evolution lets players run their own dinosaur theme park. While that usually ends in disaster in the movies, with some proper planning and management, it's possible to have functional, relatively safe island resort in the game.

The trick is to balance security, science, and entertainment. As the player builds their park and incubates various dinosaurs, they receive missions from the heads of various departments. Completing these missions earns money that can be invested back into your park.

The fun of Jurassic World Evolution comes from balancing the raw building aspects and these optional missions. You might work to build a new dinosaur enclosure or research centre, but you might also take on a mission to build a restaurant for guests. The result is a game that allows for creative building but is never completely aimless. There's always something to do.

The game can be clumsy at times, tacking on an excess of systems and managerial tasks that distract from the core experience. You'll need to gather fossils to increase the viability rate of your genetic experiments, research tons of upgrades for buildings such as improved output for power stations, and manage the satisfaction of guests and staff.

There's a lot of variables, and while that helps the game feel like a proper management sim, the building interface can make it hard to complete tasks. Landscaping tools sometimes fail to smooth out terrain, and it can be difficult to properly fence in your dinosaurs. The game is also terrible at explaining how anything works. There's an assumption that you've played park sims before, so it can be difficult to figure out tasks as simple as selling extra dinosaurs.

At times, this makes the experience frustrating but the fantasy of running a Jurassic Park wins out in the end.

It helps that Jeff Goldblum lends his voice to the game as the offbeat and sceptical Doctor Ian Malcolm. Unfortunately, actors like Chris Pratt or B.D Wong could not be wrangled, so the immersion is occasionally broken by stand-in actors who sound nothing like the characters we know.

That's not too major an issues, as having Goldblum offer a quip when a dinosaur dies or another staff member proposes a particularly dangerous task brings a lot of colour to the experience.

Combined with the use of John Williams' iconic score, the experience ends up capturing much of the film's magic. There's a surprising amount of character and charm here that helped me remain invested in my parks.

Jurassic World Evolution also escalates its challenges well. The tutorial island is something of a playground, with much of the necessary infrastructure in place. It's easy to pop down a hotel, build some tourist traps and stores, and enjoy a relatively stable park. The early roster of dinosaurs are largely docile herbivores such as Triceratops or the duck-billed Edmontosaurus.

By the time you unlock the second island, there's much more work to be done. Many of the buildings have been ravaged by tropical storms, and it's a battle to build it up and turn a meager profit. More aggressive dinosaurs like Velociraptors and Ceratosaurus draw big crowds but are harder to contain.

You'll need to prepare for the worst case scenario.

The chief message of Jurassic Park is that man's hubris can lead to great downfalls. If you're not careful, the park can fall into disaster as dinos breach their enclosures and attack customers.

But there's challenge and fun to be had there as well. Managing difficult situations such as escaping dinosaurs or diseases spreading in your zoo breaks up the more relaxed park building. If you want, you can even personally hop into a jeep or helicopter to take care of the situation yourself.

Jurassic World Evolution manages to be a pretty solid theme park game. Building can sometimes frustrate and there's possibly a few upgrades too many, but managing the day to day operation of your own dinosaur-packed island retreat can be a relaxing experience. And if anything does go wrong, Jeff Goldblum is there to say "I told you so."


Comments

    For me its hard to say its a management game when there is no option to speed up time.

      Or pause it for a second to take stock of what's going on and plan out what you're doing. Combined with the super clunky camera controls, the lack of any way to pause and issue some commands really works against it. It's really more of the base-building of an RTS than park management.

    Is Kotaku going to cover Jurassic World Alive? Basically Pokemon Go but in the Jurassic World IP.

    It's substantially better, has PvP from release which changes everything about the importance/relevance of each dino. I've been having a blast with it, love destroying other people's dino teams.

    Its Genesis in a new dress. I like the game and Liked Genesis, but for the price this could have been a lot better.

      It's weird that people say "it's Genesis made pretty" like it's a bad thing, but they'll also say of Planet Coaster "it's Rollercoaster Tycoon made pretty" in a definitely positive way. Both games from the same developer, incidentally.

      I think the early game is a bit sparse on things to do, but that's really my only complaint so far.

    ...with some proper planning and management, it's possible to have functional, relatively safe island resort in the game.You can't tell me people are going to play this game and not set the dinosaurs loose on the customers. That's like not trying to kill your Sims off in the most horrible ways possible.

    Is there any option for unlimited funds sandbox play?

      There is a sandbox that you have to unlock by getting 4 stars on the starting island first (it's not that hard to do). I don't think it's unlimited funds, but maybe there's a cheat or trainer that can apply that part for you.

        Thanks
        I have a dinosaur mad 4 year old and can forsee lots of "Daddy, do the T-Rex again, I want a triceratops, do the funny crest one now"

          Sounds like you're in for a ride. I haven't gotten far into the game yet, but I've found that once you get some basics set up, money is very easy to come by. So you should be able to squeeze out plenty of the bigger dinosaurs with no trouble once you're at the point where you unlock Islar Nublar in the first place.

          I went through the same thing with my boys and Operation Genesis. They'd crawl into my lap and watch me build a park. Pretty soon they were telling me which dinosaurs to make.They didn't like it when they died however.

          As they got older and could control the keyboard and mouse I'd load it up and let them go. I looked up cheat codes to unlock all the dinosaurs and provide infinite money so they could build whatever they liked.

          My eldest is 16 now and still likes dinosaurs. He's still got the copy of OG in a rather worn box sitting on his shelf. I don't think it runs on Win10 but he refuses to get rid of it. Can't say I disagree with him on that one.

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