It’s not quite 65 million years in the making, but to gamers the 15 year wait between Jurassic Park Operation Genesis and Frontier Development’s Jurassic World Evolution may as well have felt that long.
Let’s kick things off with the big hitters. This game is not the game that we hoped it would be, it’s flawed and at times frustrating. But when it hits its stride it hits it wonderfully and it sucks you into the world like few games can. Over the course of my first two full days with the game I had sunk over 16 hours into the title, and as somewhat of a casual gamer that is quite the achievement for me. Particularly when I didn’t feel as though any of those hours were wasted.
If I had to quickly sum up my thoughts on the game I would describe it as a beautiful mess. The outstanding visuals, created by beautifully crafted landscapes, models and graphics are second-to-none and if you’re a fan of the Jurassic franchise then you’re enjoyment is only going to heightened. But with that being said you will often find yourself frustrated by the poor terrain tools which often leave you unable to place a building despite a seemingly flat and open area of land.
It felt as though the game needed an extra six months in development to iron out the remaining issues. The actual management of the parks can often feel overbearing and leave you little time to enjoy the stars of the game, the dinosaurs. Whilst that is at times to be expected from a park management sim, I feel as though the balance is out and that I find myself more worried about how much power my park has than I worry about how many dinosaurs it has.
With that being said, despite the somewhat lessened time you spend with them, each and every dinosaur is outstanding. Their models have been crafted expertly and the wide variety on offer is not only fun, but educational. There are some odd design choices which detract from spending too long around the dinosaurs (Perhaps a reason for the imbalance towards park management). The decisions to not have them go to sleep and the present but minute social and attack animations can often take you out of the immersion.
The main “campaign” of the game features around you having to work your way through the Five Deaths, starting with Isla Matanceros and finishing with Isla Sorna (Site B). Each island offers something different to the gameplay and they pull off their unique selling point with varying degrees of success. Isla Matanceros is a perfect tutorial island, Isla Tacano is nice for working your way up from scratch and Site B is perhaps the best by offering the largest island space to work with and a degree of “taming” to be done. But Isla Pena and Isla Muerta often feel like a grind and despite the fact you’re still able to create nice parks, it does feel very limited and restricting at times.
Isla Nublar is unlocked during your journey through the Five Deaths and offers a large sandbox area with unlimited funds for you to work with. Whilst giving you access to everything you’ve unlocked so far on the other islands. “Missions” with either the Science, Entertainment or Security divisions of your staff help you to unlock some of the finer items and whilst they start of easy, it’s safe to say that they can actually be pretty difficult towards the end.
Overall it’s hard to deny the fun that can be found playing this game. As a fan of the franchise I had little doubt that I would enjoy what Frontier had to offer, and with free Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom DLC coming, as well as potential other DLC down the line it’s safe to say that the game is only going to get better. Well worth the price of buying the game is a rarity in this day and age and despite the hours I’ve put in so far, I keep coming up with new ways to improve my parks in my head and am eager to get back behind the wheel.
Final Score: 7/10 Porgs