As long as you were around in the nineties, chances are you grew up with Jurassic Park. The velociraptors chasing the children around the kitchen, seeing a T-rex roar for the first time, these are memories that have likely stuck with you. With the ongoing Jurassic World trilogy, a whole new generation is learning how life finds a way. However, Jurassic World Evolution gives you the opportunity to try for yourself, and what an experience it is.
Probably best to keep this guy happy
Park simulation games usually share a common goal: bring in customers and turn a profit. Jurassic Park Evolution is no different in this objective, but obviously having dinosaurs as your selling point changes things quite a bit. You begin the game on Isla Mataceros, with a park that already has the basics laid out for you. Each island offers you a new challenge though, whether that is challenging weather, power that is more expensive to run or previous owners that have left you in a mountain of debt. Giving each island unique challenges makes the game not only more interesting but extends its shelf life substantially.
You unlock each subsequent island and park by increasing the rating of the park before to a maximum of five stars. In order to increase your star rating, you need to micromanage a variety of different stats within the park itself. The guests themselves want a park that is easy to get around, they want places to shop and eat, and they want to have fun. To keep them at optimum happiness, you need to make sure all of these needs are met to the highest possible standard, which obviously isn't possible when you first get the park as you need to build up your money and also build up your science, security and entertainment loyalties too.
Each of these three stats is represented by a person, who will task you with extra missions and jobs while you are going about the daily upkeep of your park. Not only will you increase your loyalty with that person and boost stats, you'll also get a hefty cash sum, as well as progress towards a potentially important unlock, whether that's a new attraction, dinosaur or building upgrade. Each island has a separate stat bar for these three loyalties, and each has their own rewards and bonuses, so you'll be spending a lot of time on each island trying to raise these to their max levels. As you raise one stat, though, the others will lower, and finding it too low can result in sabotage of your park from the other teams, so this is something else you'll have to manage if you want your park to be a success. Keeping everyone happy and everything on track is a challenge, but also part of the fun of being able to take control of each park and even treat each one completely individually from the rest.
You need to micromanage your guests' needs as well as your dinosaurs' needs
Obviously, the main attraction of these parks are the dinosaurs. The game doesn't have every dinosaur that ever existed but it does have a large enough roster to keep things interesting for hours and pay homage to all the movies. Whether you want to create a killer T-rex, the more calm Diplodocus or a humongous Brachiosaurus, the game gives you the option to do all that and more. Your dinosaurs will need a pen, with water and food, forest and grassland, all in perfect harmony to keep them as happy as possible. You have the ability to add or takeaway water, trees, shrubs and other elements at the touch of a button, and keeping everything in check is more than advisable, as an unhappy dino may decide it wants to wreck havoc on your guests and break out of its pen.
You start off with only a small number of dinosaurs available to create in your Hammond labs, so chances are you'll want to increase this as soon as possible. Getting a research and fossil centre in your park is essential, as your teams can be sent out in search of fossils that will unlock new dinosaurs to create, as well as increase the genomes of ones you already own. The more you play about with the genome, the more expensive the dinosaur will probably be to create, but you have the opportunity to make each dinosaur unique. You can alter a lot of different elements in their DNA, including various base stats like attack, defence, resilience, lifespan, as well as the colour pattern of your dinos. Each one of these stats will have a bearing on how your dinosaur will live, and the game offers you the chance to play around with so much that you genuinely feel like you are playing Dino-god.
As your parks get more popular, you'll need a better variety of dinosaurs to keep your guests happy. One pen full of herbivores isn't going to cut it when your guest count starts hitting the thousands, and managing the space in your park is another thing with which you'll need to contend. You can spin buildings around to your heart's content and mess about with the placement beforehand, but once it's there, it's there. You can demolish a building but not move it, so planning ahead is key. One plus though is the ability to upgrade and replace fences, rather than needing to rebuild them, which is a great ability that saves you a lot of time. Each building needs to be connected to a path, so people can reach it, as well as be near either a substation or a power station in order for it to keep running. If the idea of managing all this sounds like heaven to you, then you'll feel right at home here. Placement is fairly easy though, and for the most part, the game won't let you put something down where it can't go, but it's your job to make sure your guests can get to it too.
Ranger stations are another essential build, in order to keep your feeders stocked up and heal your dinosaurs if they get sick. The game even lets you take control of the ranger car and do all this by hand if you wish, otherwise you can simply order the rangers to do it themselves, but nothing gets done automatically here. Whether it's a dinosaur that needs curing of a cold, a feeder that needs refilling or a fence that needs fixing, everything must be ordered to be done manually by you.
Guests want to see your dinosaurs up close and personal
With a game like this, graphics may not seem all that important, and while that is the case, what's on offer here is pretty stunning anyway. While the buildings and people are impressive, the big selling point is obviously the dinosaurs and you can tell a lot of effort and time has been paid to them. When they eat, when they drink, when they run and fight and panic, every element is a joy to watch. You can zoom in on your individual dinosaurs and follow them as they roam, even take a picture as they do if you are in your ranger car.
Sometimes everything will go wrong in your park, dinosaurs will break free and a storm will hit at the same time another dinosaur will get ill, and this will require a lot of management on your part, demanding smart and quick-thinking use of your rangers and the ACU team (who can tranquilise dinosaurs for moving or selling). To make things worse, sometimes dinosaurs seem to get stuck and glitch out, unable to move for food or water, or anything for that matter, so if you see a dinosaurs stats dropping, that might be the reason. On the other hand though, you'll have moments where you can simply sit back and watch everything run smoothly. Seeing the dinosaurs interact with each other and, hopefully, live in harmony is joyful when everything is going right, and you'll feel genuine pride when you hit the prosperous five-star rating. Plus, there's nothing like the feeling of releasing your first T-rex into its pen, and the game marks every dinosaur release with a zoomed in cutscene, like each dinosaur birth is special, and that's exactly how it feels.
When it comes to achievements, the 51 that you need to earn to complete the game pretty much cover every base. Creating some legendary status dinosaurs such as the T-rex and Indominus rex is on the list, as well as getting some special pictures of specific dinosaurs fighting or socialising. Aside from this, you'll want to complete all missions relating to science, security and entertainment, as well as obviously unlock every island, every dinosaur to 100% and complete your In-Gen database. It isn't a hard 1000G, but it isn't one that will come quickly. This isn't a game you'll want to rush through anyway, so take your time and enjoy what Jurassic World Evolution has to offer.
This game was featured in our Best Xbox One Simulation Games Available in 2019 article. Why not check it out to see what else made the cut?
SummaryFor fans of the series and simulation games, Jurassic World Evolution is a must-buy. Being able to create and tweak the DNA of a big collection of dinosaurs across all Las Cinco Muertas islands, with each one offering unique challenges, makes for an exciting gaming experience. The detail in the dinosaurs is impressive and the fact you can take control of pretty much everything on your islands means your parks can truly be your vision. Minor problems and bugs stop the game from being absolutely spotless, but aside from that, the game is everything you could want in a simulation game. At some point you've probably wished Jurassic Park really existed. For now, this is the closest you can get.
- Big roster of dinosaurs to pick from
- Different tasks to complete on the different islands
- Impressive graphics and details
- Ability to micro manage pretty much everything
- Offers genuine challenge with ratings and missions
- Bugs that hinder progress with dinosaurs
EthicsThe reviewer spent many hours keeping all of her parks under control, keeping her dinosaurs in check and tried her best to stop them from eating people, unlocking 25 of the game's 51 achievements. A download code was provided for the purpose of this review.
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