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Review

Jurassic World Evolution Review

Later there's running and screaming.

Steven Spielberg fundamentally changed the way the world thinks about dinosaurs over twenty-five years ago (not forgetting Michael Crichton’s significant contribution) and since then, what was lost in the distant past suddenly felt malleable, physical even. The plausibility of Jurassic Park’s science revitalised the notion of seeing dinosaurs, and today they’re probably in ruder fictional health than ever before. Jurassic World Evolution may just be the culmination of that, finally allowing you to manage your own Jurassic Park World theme park, or, in actual fact, five of them.

You’re tasked with overseeing five new islands, merrily known locally as “The Five Deaths”, and you’ll start off with the relatively stable Isla Matanceros, before taking a handle on the steadily more challenging Muerta, Sorna, Tacaño and Pena. Nublar is the site for the game’s sandbox mode, which allows you to tinker with your park to your heart’s content with everything you’ve unlocked elsewhere, and without any of those boring restrictions you’ll find while working through the main game.

This is a game where you build a dinosaur park, and as with many sims, you’ll need to put the infrastructure into place in order to be successful. Besides those all important enclosures to keep the dinosaurs and visitors separate, gameplay fittingly revolves around research, digging for fossils and looking after those incredible creatures in your care. There’s an array of buildings to help you achieve that, all of which need to be connected to the path system and the power grid in order to become operational, and which you’ll be regularly checking in with in order to get anything done. Anyone that’s played Frontier Development’s Zoo Tycoon will recognise the same light but involving take on the genre here, just with more interesting/deadly occupants.

You’re able to undertake contracts and missions from three divisions – science, entertainment and security – all of which will help develop your park in different ways. You need to keep an eye on your reputation with each of the three departments as they’re all vying for your attention, and if they don’t get it they might just go all Denis Nedry and try to sabotage your park, which seems like a slight overreaction. Working through each of their contracts and missions raises your standing with them, with various buildings and research elements locked to achieving a certain level, but it’s not entirely straightforward, as doing something for one team will generally reduce your standing with another.

Ian Malcolm, voiced by the ineffable Jeff Goldblum, is on hand to offer both pithy and damning praise and support, but it’s a shame he’s not around more often. You’ll be contacted by various other characters as your parks grow, including Bryce Dallas Howard’s Clare Deering, but they’re not all voiced by the original actors. Whoever they got to do Owen Grady sounds nothing like Chris Pratt, which rankles when the others are so authentic.

Still, if you’re a fan of the Jurassic Park franchise – though nobody likes the third one – then Evolution is packed full of fan service. From loading screens with quotes from the series through to unlockable skins for your vehicles, there’s something for every discerning dinosaur chaos lover here. Then of course there’s the music, which satisfyingly uses the original John Williams themes to draw you right into the world.

There are times where the action doesn’t quite meet the fiction though, including when you receive new contracts for tasks you’ve already completed, very often coming almost immediately after you’ve done it of  your own volition, forcing you to repeat the action. Similarly, the different contracts don’t always seem as though they fit with the correct division. The security team will ask for two new Dracorex to be incubated, but that loses you reputation with the science team, when it doesn’t really make any sense as they want you to research and perfect each dinosayr. Oddly it seemed more prevalent in the PC version, though whether that’s just luck withthe contracts I was offered on PS4 is hard to say.

Things can also be a bit slow going at times, at least at the start, as you’re waiting for research to finish or an expedition team to get back from their travels. As you progress though the action inevitably really begins to ramp up, and you’ll be having to deal with unhappy animals escaping from their enclosures, outbreaks of illness and storms which destroy parts of your park, generally all at the same time. A fast forward option is always welcome in management sims and it’s a luxury that Jurassic World Evolution would definitely have benefitted from.

What’s Good:

  • You get to manage Jurassic Park
  • The dinosaurs look phenomenal
  • Involving gameplay
  • It has Jeff Goldblum in it

What’s Bad:

  • You get to manage Jurassic Park
  • No fast forward option
  • Missions don’t always match up with the fiction

Business management games don’t come much cooler than Jurassic World Evolution, and as subject matter goes it has done the the franchise proud. The dinosaurs look fantastic, the park building is easy and coherent, and the ensuing chaos when it goes a little bit off the rails can be frantic and enthralling. It’s pacing where the game struggles a little, with a few too many sedentary moments stretching your patience, but you’re not likely to get any closer to building your own park packed with once extinct animals than this.

Score: 8/10

Versions Tested: PC and PS4, also available on Xbox One

 

6 Comments
  1. tactical20
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    I’ve been playing Jurassic World Alive on my iPhone, so I’m really into dinosaurs at the moment. I have a 5 year old son too, so that helps! I’ll deffo pick this up at some point, just gonna wait a couple of months for the price to drop.

    Comment posted on 11/06/2018 at 13:24.
  2. JR.
    Member
    Since: Apr 2013

    Really looking forward to playing this. I watched the 30 minute gameplay teaser and it’s everything I hoped it would be and more. I’ll have to wait a few weeks for the disc release but I’m hoping there will be a few patches to iron out the early bugs and glitches.

    I don’t mind JP3. It’s my least favourite of the JP movies – at least, it was until I saw the latest one, which is beyond awful – but JP3 had some good moments and stayed faithful to the tone of the originals. If I had to rank them it would be: JP, JP:LTW, JW, JP3, JP:FK. Fallen Kingdom, such a disappointment but at least the game is good :D

    Comment posted on 11/06/2018 at 13:36.
  3. parryman
    Member
    Since: Apr 2012

    I’m a massive JP fanboi and am eagerly anticipating this one. Glad it’s got a good score (not that a shit one would have put me off, just maybe delayed buying for a couple of months until the inevitable price dump)

    Comment posted on 11/06/2018 at 14:57.
  4. stormy
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    Did you test on PS4 Pro and how did it stack up against its PC big brother? Graphics wise? Controller ok on PS4?

    Comment posted on 11/06/2018 at 15:21.
    • Dominic Leighton
      Member
      Since: Mar 2012

      Funnily I actually found it a little easier to navigate on the PS4 Pro with the controller, which I know makes little sense, but they’ve done a really good job of making everything intuitive and straightforward, and the controller shortcuts are spot on.

      Visually the only glitch I found was the fences not displaying properly on PS4 Pro at 4K which I think is due to be fixed, but otherwise it’s a very close match, just a little more sheen on PC. The dinosaurs still look great no matter what you’re playing on!

      Comment posted on 11/06/2018 at 16:09.
  5. aerobes
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    Been tentatively excited for this and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised. Another one on the want list.

    Comment posted on 11/06/2018 at 16:22.