Title: Jurassic World Evolution
Developer: Frontier Development
Publisher: Frontier Development
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
Audience: PEGI 16 – Violence
Release Date: 12/6/2018
Price: £34.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this game.
What the Developers say
Place yourself at the heart of the Jurassic franchise and build your own Jurassic World.
Take charge of operations on the legendary islands of the Muertes archipelago and bring the wonder, majesty and danger of dinosaurs to life. Build for Science, Entertainment or Security interests in an uncertain world where life always finds a way.
Bioengineer dinosaurs that think, feel and react intelligently to the world around them. Play with life itself to give your dinosaurs unique behaviours, traits and appearances, then contain and profit from them to fund your global search for lost dinosaur DNA.
Control the big picture with deep management tools or go hands-on to confront challenges on the ground or in the air. Expand your islands and choose your own journey in an all-new narrative featuring iconic characters from across the franchise and decades of Jurassic lore at your fingertips.
Full disclosure, the Jurassic Park franchise might be one of my favourite movie series of all time. While the movies have had great success, this hasn’t always been the case in the video game medium. Playing as Dr Grant on the Sega Genesis version was not always the greatest of times, and to this day I wonder how I stayed glued to my TV back in the day. Fast forward, and now developer Frontier Developments have released Jurassic World Evolution, hoping to capitalise on the series’ meteoric growth.
Jurassic World Evolution is a strategy title at its core, and the story is limited more so to just explaining how the basic mechanics work. Light story elements are being told, but basically, this is just about you creating your own Jurassic Park and helping it to flourish against all the odds. While this game isn’t directly tied to the mainline series, Frontier Developments did manage to get the illustrious Jeff Goldblum to reprise his role as the sceptical mathematician Ian, and he will frequently speak throughout your experience building and maintaining your dinosaur park. Staying on voice acting, it’s okay for the most part but stumbles with some decisions, mainly with who voices Chris Pratt’s character in the recent Jurassic World films.
Looks and Sounds
You’ll start on one of the five islands, each with their own unique time of day and challenges to overcome. The first island is straightforward, and the tutorials are neatly laid out and clearly explained, helping to get a feel for what each building does. You’ll be tasked with building a Hammond Creation Center which is where you’ll be able to create your dinosaurs but is limited at first with just a few.
To create dinosaurs you’ll need to commit to excavations and research. You can send teams out across the world to search for dino DNA at excavation sites, and if they’re successful, you’ll find fossils at your Fossil Center. You can choose to either sell the fossils for money or extract DNA, which can improve your chances of a successful incubation period for dinosaurs you attempt to spawn. Dinosaur creating won’t work 100% of the time though, as it’s based on a percentage of research you’ve completed and the type of DNA you are working with.
If a dinosaur does fail, you’ll have wasted the money on that research and need to scrap the dinosaur and start over. This makes for an interesting dynamic where you can either risk researching a cool, but difficult dinosaur like a carnivore, which can, in turn, draw huge crowds and increase your income. Or, you can wait it out and do some more research first, which can be challenging to manage with fewer funds.
Money is critical in Jurassic World Evolution, and I found it to be difficult to manage. There’s a lot of mandatory buildings that are very expensive, and you’ll need for dinosaur creation, in addition to facilities to help keep your guests happy. It’s a careful balance of expanding both your dinosaurs and your audience. That balance is what makes Jurassic World Evolution fun to explore and play, and this is like a Rollercoaster Tycoon title that I would put hundreds of hours into.
Just like some of the classic strategy titles, you can release havoc on unsuspecting crowds of people. With a simple press of a button you can unleash any dinosaurs you have contained and watch them obliterate your crowds. Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed to learn that each dinosaur appears to have a single animation for attacking humans and they only ever seem to kill one person at a time, assuming they already haven’t trampled over them like the Triceratops.
If there is a breakout, there are ways to contain these disasters. Using the ACU Center, you can send out a team on a helicopter to tranquillise escaped dinosaurs and then airlift them back into containment. You want to make sure if you let out the dinosaur manually that you remember to close the door later or else everything will happen all over again. What’s cool about this rescue team is that you don’t have to sit around and wait for the AI to capture the dinosaurs on their own, but you can take direct control of both the helicopter and the team, making for some fun dinosaur hunting.
Without having to be said, these outbreaks will hurt your park reputation and revenue stream, so it’s probably essential to improve your buildings and structures with upgrades. Using the Research Center, you can research upgrades for practically everything. You can have reinforced walls with electric fencing, improve your incubation success rate, or even improve your ACU Center so they can have faster reload times and accuracy to prevent more people from dying during an incident.
Many of these upgrades are locked behind steep progression walls requiring you to progress further in the game and unlock more islands, which only happens if you’ve successfully maintained each island with a three-star or higher rating. To do this, you need to keep your audience happy, while also significantly expanding the amount and variety of dinosaurs available at your parks. Each island features its own set of challenges; from a nighttime setting to difficult to predict weather patterns. I wish there was a dynamic time of day, but it’s only a minor annoyance.
Gameplay and Replayability
As far as content, Jurassic World Evolution has far more than what I would ever know what to do with. This is both a benefit and problem, as I enjoy the options for customisation and adding to your park, but it almost feels like too much. There’s a ton of entertainment based structures like clothing shops, restaurants, and even bowling alleys to help keep your community happy. You can control where you place paths, buildings, fences, and also adjust the terrain with trees, water, and elevation. I didn’t have too much trouble using the controller for navigating areas and building structures, but I could see how using a mouse and keyboard would be much more intuitive.
Jurassic World Evolution features over 40 dinosaurs, including experimental ones like the Indominus Rex featured in Jurassic World. All the dinosaurs are land-based unfortunately, so don’t expect any aquatic Mosasaurus or building any giant bird cages for Pterodactyls. My favourites included the T-Rex of course, Raptor, Dilophosaurus, and many others make an appearance. The Secrets of Dr Wu expansion also adds the threatening Indoraptor and two new locations for experimenting even more with your dinosaur creations.
Every dinosaur is modelled beautifully, and they’re given authentic movie designs from both their skin design to their sound effects. If you’re not happy with how they look, you can even modify their genome with advanced splicing. By researching certain traits, you can adjust your dinosaurs potential lifespan, their skin colour, and even their attitude, which is a nice touch. The graphical design is superb for the most part with excellent lighting design and shadow quality, with highly detailed characters and objects.
Overall, Jurassic World Evolution is a great real-time strategy title that fulfils a ton of fan service and is loaded with content. There are many options to play with, including building upgrades, financial adjustments, and various goals and challenges to boost your income. The lack of a free mode hurts some of the accessibility with the experience, but this comes highly recommended for any fan of real-time strategies or Jurassic Park.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Jurassic World Evolution on the Microsoft Store at the following link, https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/jurassic-world-evolution/c1ld4244xcnj