Jurassic World Evolution (PS4) Review07/09/2018
Growing up, I used to love playing simulation and management games, especially Theme Park, Zoo Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon. Initially, I loved spending hours and hours building the perfect layout which both covered all of my customers needs as well as looking aesthetically beautiful. Then I discovered Rollercoaster Tycoon let you purposely send people to their deaths and cause havoc within your park! Since then, I’ve always wondered “What if there was a game with animals which lets you create the same feeling of panic and disaster”? I present to you: Jurassic World Evolution…
From the creators of the amazing Planet Coaster, Frontier have created, in my opinion, the most engaging Jurassic Park game ever created over the franchises 20+ year lifespan. Using their knowledge of creating a theme park management simulation game, they have put together an awesome and entertaining recreation of what it must be like to create and manage Jurassic Park. So, Let’s jump in and take a dangerously close look at Jurassic World Evolution…
Just like with any management simulation game, the story behind Jurassic World is rather simple. It should also be very familiar to fans of the franchise, as there was a joke about the original ‘Park’ being like Disney Land in the first move. You, along with the help of Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), must take control of the newly founded tourist attraction on various islands as you aim to bring in the punters. The trick here is, you need to ensure the park is safe and secure so that there are little to no casualties – but where’s the fun in that?
You will receive some exposition and backstory along the way from Malcolm and a few of your advisors, which I’ll touch on soon, but ultimately, how you run the park is down to you. You must aim to make it both secure and profitable with both your visitor count and profits increasing at a steady pace. Failing this, if a dinosaur breaks free and begins eating all your guests, it won’t look good on the tourist information pamphlet and could lead to a reduced amount of attendees…
If you’ve ever played any kind of simulation/management game on a console, Railway Empire, Cities Skylines, Planetbase etc… then you’ll know what to expect in terms of controls. At a glance, you control the majority of things by using the Left Stick to move and Cross to select/bring up a menu, followed by the D-Pad to move around said menu and select things. However, a lot of Jurassic World Evolution is hidden behind menus, menus you bring up with Square, Triangle and the aforementioned Cross.
As such, Jurassic World Evolution can be a bit intimidating and confusing at first – it took me a few hours before I had fully come to terms with everything you can do and I’m an avid fan of the genre. It’s not hard to learn or difficult to control, it’s just a bit fiddly as you try and remember which menu you have to go into in order to perform which operation. In most cases, you can simply press Cross on the building and the relevant menu/screen will pop up – but then it’s remembering which building is the one you wish you use!
However, once you’ve got the controls perfected, you know which buildings do what and you have a vague idea of your goals, then it’s time to have some fun!
Theme (Jurassic) Park:
The core mechanic and premise of Jurassic World Evolution is a management sim, so don’t go into the game thinking it’s all 100% action – sure, the game does get exciting and there are a few unusual mechanics which I’ll talk about later, but essentially you’ll be managing everything within the park from obtaining new fossils to building gift shops for tourists. Your first task, as the newly appointed manager of this terrifying theme park, is to create new dinosaurs from DNA you found whilst out digging for fossils. Just ensure the fenced area is secure and strong enough for the ones you choose, otherwise, your park won’t be open very long.
Whilst our baby dino is being created in the lab, it’s now up to you to satisfy the tourists by building food/drink stands, a gift shop which sells tacky dino-related gifts, a hotel for them to stay in, and possibly even a bunker for everyone to hide in during the inevitable break-out of the ferocious dinosaurs!
At this stage, you’re also tasked with creating essential buildings such as the Fossil, Expedition, Ranger and Power stations. Each of these serves a purpose, which essentially helps you both run and manage the park and the safety of the unsuspecting tourists. Let’s take a deeper look at these…
As mentioned above, there are a number of supporting buildings which can be created in order to help you out in various ways. These include:
The Expedition Station is where you choose to go out looking for new and exciting fossils. This isn’t something you do manually – as in actually going on and looking – but you do choose what location you wish your archaeologists to go out to. Each site also tells you what kind of dinosaurs to expect to be there, so you can easily choose if you wish to uncover new ones or try and enhance the ones you already own.
The Fossil Station is the next station within this process. Here, you can take a look at which fossils have been discovered by your team above and then decide whether you wish to keep the fossil and use it to create a new dino or enhance an existing one, or simply sell it. You can also sell off any rocks you find which don’t contain any traces of DNA.
The Power stations are obvious, they keep everything in your park powered – anyone who’s seen the first film will know how critical that is! The Ranger and ACU Stations are there to provide a few interesting and interactive mechanics which I found to be a lot of fun and a nice change of pace. Whereas in Theme Park games, you get to ride the rides and walk around at ground level, in Jurassic World Evolution, you can go into first-person as you fly in a helicopter and tranq the escaped dinosaurs or first person in the jeep as you take photos of them and refill the feeders.
This is where one of the first ‘annoyances’ came into play for me. I love the fact I can create my own pet dinosaurs and I can set them free into the enclosed areas, but not everything is peachy. The first few dinosaurs you’re given are a small herbivore and a large carnivore. I knew this was going to happen, but I did it anyway – I released both types in the same enclosure and hoped for the best. As expected, the carnivore went around and literally tore my small buddies apart limb from limb as he devoured them for their tasty flesh.
Not only is Jurassic World Evolution about the management of your electricity and tourists, it’s also about balancing out which creations go where. As such, I found I had to have a few creation centres which were isolated for certain dinosaurs if I didn’t want it to turn into a bloodbath of epic proportions! This can take a while to get used too as you’re constantly working out who could go where, or saving before you release one of them just in case they decide to go crazy and kill everything.
Another pet peeve was the fragility and uselessness of the fences I had erected. Every five minutes or so, I would turn the camera and see swarms of people running by. I initially thought they were all having such a great time and playing a massive game of tag or British Bulldog – but no, they were all running away from their impending doom. Even with electrified fences and reinforced ones, “Life, uh, finds a way” – Ian Malcolm ~ 1993.
Just like in games such as Anno 2005 and the recently released Two Point Hospital, Jurassic World Evolution provides plenty of missions and side-events for you to get on with. There are three factions, Science, Entertainment, and Security. Each one is faced by some random character (why they couldn’t be faces we are familiar with, I’ll never know) and they all want you to do various things in order to appease them and increase your reputation with them.
For example, if you choose to take on more contracts related to the Entertainment faction, which will be to pull in X amount of tourists, make X amount of money, build Y building etc…, then this will gradually increase your reputation with the said faction. In turn, that will unlock things such as new buildings or upgrades. The concept and delivery are the same for the other factions as well, only with different goals and tasks.
For example, Security has literally just asked me to “Use the Ranger Team to take a photo of a dinosaur running” in order to win $100k and boost my reputation – however, it will reduce reputation with the other two factions. I find these side-events entertaining and they do give you something to work towards – so it isn’t just one big sandbox – plus, you can just decline all the requests if you don’t feel like taking any of them on.
Like a well-oiled machine?
Initially, I had to restart a few of my islands over multiple times as I always tended to get ahead of myself and begin to build things before I’d got into the motion of generating lots of cash from the visitors. This was an all too common occurrence which left me feeling defeated and irritated as I’d just spent hours building what I thought was the perfect park! However, if you take it slow and do one thing at a time, before long you’ll be raking in thousands of dollars just over one dinosaur – if you’re lucky!
It’s, once again, all about getting the balance right and pre-planning what you need to do without splashing all your cash out on things you don’t actually need yet. So, once you’ve upgraded everything, got a steady flow of cash, and you have the best dino-displays in the world, can you just sit back and watch the moolah roll in like you do in games such as Two Point Hospital and Airport Simulator 2019? Nope, you can’t…
Jurassic World Evolution is a micro-management fans idea of heaven, and a simulation fans idea of “hmmm”. Your employees are very, very stupid and require constant attention. If a dinosaur breaks free of its enclosure, for example, nobody actually goes and sedates it until you specifically tell them too. Likewise, once a fence is destroyed, the Rangers won’t fix it unless you pay to rebuilt or repair. It’s not a big issue but I would have liked it if you could give the staff members a set task – like task the park ranger to always fix and maintain the fences, or the ACU to auto-sedate any escapees.
It’s not a big issue, but know that you will be micro-managing a lot of the processes and events throughout the game.
Graphically, Jurassic World Evolution looks great. I’ve been playing it on the PS4 Pro and I can happily say that it looks amazing. Sure, if you’re spinning around or zoomed right out then the textures can get a little blurry and lose a lot of their definition and quality, but up close everything looks stunning. As each dinosaur is released, you get the option to follow it as it walks in like a WWE wrestler walking towards the ring! All we need is some background music and a video screen showcasing the dinosaur in lycra taking out the others in the ring.
Soundwise – I can’t fault the game at all. All the dinosaurs sound great and different from one another, the music is perfect, including the iconic John Williams score. Also, I can’t complete my review without mentioning the brilliant Jeff Goldblum! He reprises his role as Ian Malcolm perfectly, with all the wit and charm of both Jeff and Ian rolled into one perfect human being. I would recommend buying the game purely to listen to him!
Personally, I loved playing through Jurassic World Evolution, I’m a massive fan of the management simulation genre and I also don’t mind micromanaging things/people. For example, I’m an avid fan of recent games like Planetbase, Two Point Hospital, Railway Empire and Surviving Mars – so I’m used to having a third eye over what’s going on and keeping up with all the warning messages popping up on screen.
Although, it felt like the game was missing something – Don’t get me wrong, Jeff Goldblum was amazing, the graphical quality is great and the core mechanics work perfectly, it just felt very generic with the Jurrasic Park name slapped on it in order to sell more copies. If the game had come out without the major franchise as it’s titular namesake, the game would be no different in terms of content and storyline. That’s my major issue here – there wasn’t enough ‘Jurassic Park’ within the game. Scripted events which followed the movie, a tutorial which was set around the events of the first film, more cameos, or stronger references may have helped? I’m not sure, I just forgot it was a game based on the franchise at times and simply thought I was playing a deadlier version of Zoo Tycoon.
Jurassic World Evolution is a solid micro-management simulation game in which you create the infamous Park. As far as the core mechanics go, Frontier know exactly what they’re doing in this field, with their strong background in the theme park genre. The only downside, which certain people won’t like, is the constant micro-management involved in order to keep the park running smoothly and without disasters.
If you can look past that, or don’t mind it, then Jurassic World Evolution is one of the best dinosaur-themed simulation games out there at the moment.
Jurassic World Evolution£49.99
- As a generic dinosaur-based zoo tycoon game, the mechanics are solid
- Jeff Goldblum
- There is a tonne of things to do as you try and micro-manage your park
- Jeff Goldblum
- The interesting take on the photo-mode (first person within the jeep with a digital camera) and operating the tranq dart guns in the helicopter were a nice touch
- Take away the Jurassic World/Park name and nothing changes
- There is no gold trophy called "Jeff Gold-Blum"
- I wish there were more cameos or real actor voices
- Micro-managing all your stupid staff who don't learn or take on any automation jobs will annoy some people
- Not enough Jeff Goldblum