STAFF REVIEW of Jurassic World Evolution (Xbox One)

Thursday, July 26, 2018.
by Jennifer Dingle

Jurassic World Evolution Box art It’s been a long time since I’ve played a park management/business sim game. I played my fair share of Roller Coaster Tycoon back in the day, but it’s a game genre I’ve never really explored. When given the opportunity to review Jurassic World Evolution, it piqued my interest to have the chance to recreate the ill-fated park from the popular movie series.

The crux of the game is simple. You are the new manager of Jurassic World, whisked away to the Islands of the Muertes (also known as the Five Deaths) and given the task to create an epic Jurassic Park experience that draws in guests from around the world with help of a few key characters from the movies. Yep, it is as simple as that.

I must admit, I felt a bit lost at the beginning as there really wasn’t a tutorial to speak of. While there were a few buildings already pre-built, I found myself fumbling through the menu trying to figure out what to do. Pressing the d-pad to the left brings up the different building tools you can use to appease your guests and increase your island rating. It will take you a bit of time to get the controls down pat, but don’t worry, it can be done.

There really wasn’t a campaign to speak of at all! There are five islands to play through, the next one unlocking as your island rating increases, and the newly unlocked island will bring an even greater challenge with terrain and weather. Staff from three different factions are on the island. Security, Entertainment and Science contacts will provide you with contracts and missions to help fund your ventures and unlock new dinosaurs and buildings, but make sure to pay attention to all three! Not paying attention to one of your advisors will lead to the sabotage of your park.

It’s very rewarding to see your magnificent creatures unleashed from the Hammond Creation lab for the first time! Of course, the dinosaurs are the main attraction, and you will need to keep a careful eye on your assets to keep your guests interested. Each dinosaur has its own status to track, a personality, it’s happiness, etc. They can get sick, run out of food, fight and a whole lot more. That’s where the Ranger Station comes in handy. After adding this building to your park, you can send teams in Jeeps into the dino enclosure to top off their food, provide medicine, repair a broken building and you can chain their tasks too. A nice added touch is that you can take control of the vehicle, get a view from the ground and even take close up pictures of your dinosaurs in their enclosures.

Building an Exhibition Centre gives you the option to send a team to sites across the world to dig up fossil and chunks of amber, essential for extracting precious DNA, with more dig sites (and more dinosaurs) available as you complete missions in the game. In order to incubate one of the 42 different species, you need to create a genome that’s at least 50% to create a dinosaur, but a higher percentage creates a more authentic specimen, and increases the rating of your island.

The research building allows you to improve your park via a skills tree. Here, you can unlock more buildings to bring in more guests (like an arcade and a bowling alley, because that’s what you want to do when there are long extinct dinosaurs to see!). You can also add upgrades to your buildings, like improve the accuracy of your ranger team or speed up the incubation process.

My gameplay in Jurassic World Evolution involved a lot of trial and error. As previously mentioned, there really weren’t any tutorials to speak of, so I made a few costly mistakes because I wasn’t really aware of what was available to me. I suppose that could be the intent, for players to experience the game on their own, but I found it to be a bit frustrating at times, like when I made the fatal error of creating the carnivorous Ceratosaurus and unleashed him into the enclosure. I quickly discovered the importance of having an electrified fence, as my dino broke free and began stalking and eating the park guests (which I won’t lie... was rather entertaining!). Having an ACU building was a must in a situation like this! With an ACU team in place, you can send a helicopter quickly to tranquilize a roaming dinosaur and transport it back to their enclosure. Unfortunately, if you are not carefully paying attention to your dinosaurs, they can pass away, and the ACU team can be called into to remove them.

I found Jurassic World Evolution to be very repetitive at times. There were more than a few instances when I had the exact same contract to compete, sometimes immediately after already completing it for another faction or while I was progress. It seems I was always either looking for a new fossil or creating a new genome, over, and over and over. A variety in contracts would have been appreciated, as well as the ability speed up time. I felt like I was always waiting for something, waiting for my team to return from a dig, waiting for my dinosaur to incubate, although there are upgrades that can speed up the process.

There is a management view, but it didn’t seem in depth at all. Everything was seemingly easy to manage, never overwhelming, actual somewhat dull at times. I really expected a bit more here, and I think those looking for a rich park management experience may be slightly disappointed.

The power system was perhaps one my greatest frustrations. After building a few storage facilities on my island, I soon found that there was not enough power. Again, left to discover what to do on my own, when I clicked on the buildings, I discovered they each has different power needs, larger buildings needing more off course, and I had to build a series of awkwardly placed pylons and substations throughout the already crammed park. I definitely felt there could be improvements made to this aspect of the game.

The Jurassic World Evolution soundtrack is filled with clips of the John Williams theme we have come to know and love. With legendary Jeff Goldblum providing dire warnings, Bryce Dallas Howard quips about feeding your dinosaurs, many of the voice actors from the movies lent their voices to the game, with the exception of Chris Pratt. Visually, it was to be as expected with a park management game. The dinosaurs themselves were well detailed and stunning, the islands and landscapes were beautiful and truly brought the game to life, but I never felt really wowed by what I was looking at.

Despite my frustrations with the game, I think that Frontier did quite well bringing the beloved franchise to life. It’s not the in-depth park management game that some may be looking for, and there is a fair bit of repetition with in-game quests, but I still really enjoyed my time with Jurassic World Evolution. Creating new dinosaurs and having a successful park was extremely satisfying and addictive, and recommended for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the Jurassic Park Universe. Just remember, you’ll have to learn a lot on your own, but once you do, it will be a dinosaur park sim game you should enjoy.

Overall: 7.2 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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