I had originally planned to post this review a few days after release but it took a hold of me like no game has since Zelda:BOTW. Jurassic World Evolution is a special game. Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis has its long awaited rebirth and it was well worth the wait!
Being a massive fan of the movie series means this game is a no brainer. Jurassic World Evolution is a spiritual successor to 2003s excellent Jurassic Park Operation Genesis. Think Theme Park but instead of Roller Coasters you have Velociraptors. An instant upgrade if there ever was one. Rather than maintaining said Roller Coaster to stop it from breaking down you maintain a Dinosaurs wellbeing so it doesn’t go on a murderous rampage. You get the idea.
JWE hugs the series lore like a newborn. Loading screens are filled with famous quotes from characters. Locations are familiar and represented excellently. Dr. Ian Malcolm pipes in from time to time to narrate as you make the same horrible decisions as John Hammond. Yes, Jeff Goldblum lends his voice to Jurassic World Evolution and it is glorious.
When I first saw some of the demo material for Jurassic World Evolution I figured it was the usual smoke and mirrors stuff with early footage being shown on PC at max settings on a rig so expensive only the four richest kings of Europe would be able to afford it. However, JWE is graphical showcase. Trees, plant life and water features are all top notch. The Dinosaurs themselves are stunningly detailed. The folks at Frontier have some talented artists on staff and the painstaking work really shines through.
JWE gives you five islands to take over, fans of the older movies will be no stranger to Los Cinco Muertes. The first island acts as a semi-tutorial area. Each island has three staff factions (Science, Entertainment and Security) who will give you missions to complete which award you with new attractions or fossil dig sites. This is a balancing act however as favouring one side too heavily will cause issues. For example, if I favour Entertainment too heavily the game kicks you in the crotch. Security will be a bit salty and “sabotage” gates on enclosures leading to a loose T-Rex and many, many dead customers.
Much like the staff factions, the Dinosaurs must be kept happy at all times. Some need plenty of forest cover, some need a lots of space in an enclosure with adequate access to water. Some need to be alone, some need to have a wolf pack. Many Dinos mix, some don’t. Once again, it’s a balancing act with a learning curve. Clicking on a Dinosaur will show you their comfort level and highlight where you are going wrong.
When it does go wrong it really is spectacular. Carnivores running through seas of people, attacking at will as your Asset Containment Unit fly above trying to shoot it with tranquilizer rounds. When you manage to tame an animal it must be transported back to it’s enclosure, you know, after the ranger team repair the damaged fences.
The core day-to-day mechanics of the game are explained here before you head off to conquer more difficult challenges. Send out expedition teams to fossil sites, increase the gene quality percentage to get higher rated attractions, hope there isn’t a storm, repeat.
Pro Tip – Don’t incubate Dinos at less than 100%. There is a viability risk that could see your large financial outlay thrown in the bin if it fails to hatch. Wait it out. Sure, you might want a two million dollar T-Rex for your 1 star rated park but you are betting the farm. Get all the fossils first!
Each island after the initial offering presents a new challenge be it elemental, spacial or financial. Getting a 5 star rating on an island really is like puzzle solving.
This all leads to the sandbox island where money is no object (you’ll spare no expense, so to speak) and the island is your personal plaything complete with everything you have unlocked including your vast Jurassic knowhow. That’s where the game really shines!
Jurassic World Evolution is a blast and 98% of my time spent with it has been great. However, this is a title that desperately, desperately needs a fast forward option. Too often I was waiting around after a storm as my rangers scrambled to get power stations back online. I waited around for new contract missions to come in far too many times. Too often I waited around for expedition teams to return with sweet sweet T-Rex amber. These aren’t long wait times, usually between a minute to 90 seconds, but that time adds up. Surely that is a simple patch to deploy. These types of games really do require the the ability to skip animations.
Another feature I would love to see is a Day/Night cycle. On earlier islands you only see your park in the daylight so I had assumed there was no darkness in this game but later we have one island that lives in perpetual darkness. It’s a glaring omission. The Day/Night cycle would really improve immersion. By day people are going to the attractions and by night they hang out in the bars and restaurants. The artwork is excellent so I would love to see that transition from lush greens to bustling nightlife during a run back through Los Cinco Muertes.
Overall Jurassic World Evolution has received favourable review scores but with everything there is an outlier.
IGN, who clearly had an exclusive deal with Frontier given the amount of pre release coverage it received, scored it 4.8/10. Absolutely baffling. The person who reviewed it clearly is not a fan of park simulation games so why did the review fall on him? IGN have a huge platform and to be so haphazard with their review really was disappointing to see. Complaints about the lack of facility management (like toilets) and a general boredom filled the review. Clearly they didn’t play this game they way I did. When a storm hits and breaks my fences setting five Raptors and the Indominus Rex loose the last thing I want to worry about is a clogged porta potty beside hotel number seven. Where’s the boredom?
The Eurogamer review was far more favourable but the writer seemed upset and confused at the result of one of her actions. The Herbivore she placed in a Carnivore enclosure was killed. Once again…why did that person review the game?
Take 2Bit Sports for example. We had review code for The Crew 2. Nicky Bowe handled that review (which you can find here) as racing games are just not my thing. If I reviewed Ubisofts new open world racer the overall score and text would reflect my boredom and perhaps frustration at playing a genre of game that does not interest me all that much. It wouldn’t be fair to the reader or the people that provided us with code. I don’t need to run IGN to know that.
It’s 4.5 stars from me! With a patch for a fast forward button and a day/night cycle it’s an easy 5 stars. Definitely don’t sleep on Jurassic World Evolution. It’s one of the most engrossing gaming experiences I have had in years.