Jurassic World Evolution was sent to me to review on day one. I put in 30 hours in the first two days and had intended to write this review immediately. Unfortunately, I had a nasty accident and was out of action for almost 3 months. This setback, however, gave me the time to read other critics reviews and to gauge the opinion of other gamers before I sat down to tell you my own.
This is something that doesn’t often happen and it was nice to see that I shared the opinion of most other reviewers, I enjoy the game a great deal, however, it does have its faults and is by no means a perfect game.
On that note, I would like to get the negatives dealt with now. The first and most irritating thing about Jurassic World Evolution are the dinosaurs!
You heard that right, the damn dinosaurs are the most annoying thing about the game. Don’t get me wrong, they are fabulous, they look incredible, the animations feel right and they are a joy to be around but they will not stay contained so you can never feel that you are able to run the park effectively.
Seriously, I had to stop having Raptors in my park because the little bastards would never stay caged. I had them fed, the right amount of them in the herd, I had them behind two fences and an electric fence and somehow, they still got out before I could repair all the issues with the fences.
I had one T-Rex in a massive paddock by itself, I thought I would add another, it appeared to be able to handle this and I thought, being lonely is no good. So I spent my million bajillion monies on a new T-rex that immediately killed my old T-Rex (who I loved) and then went about escaping and making my park worthless.
It’s not just the dinosaur management that is frustrating, in Jurassic World Evolution finding new dinosaurs is tedious and I wish I could automate it to a better degree. It feels like busy work and certainly not something that should have such random results.
For example, I wanted to get 100% of the Dilophosaur Genome, I had to send 6 separate expeditions to the same area to get the last 30%, fine you might say, however, I was also coming back with the genomes of dinosaurs I had already completed, sometimes exclusively.
Every time there is a storm one or more dinosaurs will escape. You can have three rows of fences but by the time you have responded to that issue another from a different paddock, one where you have only two fences is out.
I know some people think the idea of an escaped animal is fun but I would have liked a game mode where the rules don’t change on the fly to ensure life finds a way.
So the game is terrible then? Actually no, I really like it. Sure I have a duplicitous relationship with it, however, from the very outset, I felt like I was running a dinosaur park. The size of the creatures is amazing. The very fact that you can drive a vehicle into a paddock and sit and watch a Tyrannosaur do its thing is incredible.
The first few times and animal escapes are really good fun, it gets better when you pilot the chopper and have to tranquilise them yourself. I really enjoy playing the game, I love the feel of running a park but the issue is that I never feel that I am getting it right.
The soul of Jurassic World Evolution is a park management simulator. There are four islands for you to conquer and a sandbox island where you can simply build freely and see what amazing park you can design. I have money that says you will design a battle arena but it could be something else.
Keeping your visitors happy is important, keeping your staff happy is very important but, as I have already mentioned, the stars of Jurassic World Evolution, the dinosaurs will be your main focus for joy, if they get upset, they get a bit “bitey”.
Whilst I would have preferred some other way to find the dinosaur genomes, maybe take part in a dig or two, the fact is, you will never tire of watching a new dinosaur lumber into its paddock. The animation is first class, the dinosaurs look real and they act like you would expect. Raptors rush into their enclosure and begin escaping (the bastards) Sauropods move gracefully and make the ground shake. It’s all there and it’s wonderful.
Managing your staff is a little trickier than in most other park management games, in fact, if you upset a team by not doing enough for them, they will actively sabotage your park. That’s right, the staff are arseholes.
In a real business, I like to think that despite sales and accounting butting heads they would all like to keep their jobs, instead, in Jurassic World Evolution accounting would call all new clients and tell them that they couldn’t have an account after all. Sales would burn to account to the ground and then all the staff and customers would die.
The three maniacal factions are Science, Security and Entertainment. Entertainment is a misleading term. After you spend time searching for the DNA, completing the genome and then creating a dinosaur the Entertainment division would like you to organize a fight between the Triceratops and the Tyrannosaur. That’s right get one of your multi-million-pound dinos killed so that the bloodthirsty guests are thrilled.
What about security, another ambivalent use of a word, “open the gates so we can see how many guests die before we finally tranquillize a dinosaur. Security, just doing our jobs.”
In fact it is only science that seems to be placatable, however, I suspect they may have turned the power off more than once.
The missions are manageable for the most part, sometimes you are asked to do something questionable and it’s at those times Jurassic World Evolution loses credibility for me and ruins the immersion of running a park.
The immersion is destroyed by the illogical actions in the game as a whole. The dinosaurs have meters which let you see how happy they are. Everything will appear to be fine then your paddock filled with Brachiosaurs, Triceratops, Diplodocus and Ankylosaurs will go crazy, break out and kill hundreds of guests because you didn’t fill one of the 12 feeders fast enough or 1 dinosaur died and you didn’t replace it fast enough meaning that their loneliness meter takes a nosedive.
It’s not realistic for any wild creature to be so fickle and I wish there was a way to keep the difficulty high whilst making the dinosaurs less irritating. In the end, instead of improving and managing a park you are caught up in a loop of busy work sending rangers out to resupply a feeder, repair a fence, fix a sabotaged power station, heal a sick dinosaur and tranq the escapees, repair the fence, move the dinosaur back to the paddock, resupply the feeder, heal a sick dinosaur, repair the fence and so it goes on.
A better solution would have been to assign a group of rangers to a specific task and have them do that automatically throughout the park. I would have liked more space in Jurassic World Evolution to make a park that I was happy with. Sure, the sandbox is a great place to play but it’s not the same as making a successful and profitable park, placing and improving attractions as you go.
You can drive around the park you create in a ranger vehicle, this is good fun and taking great pictures of the dinosaurs is a joy but again this is let down by the fact you cannot enjoy it for long because more busy work will have reared its head.
It’s very hard to design an aesthetically pleasing park with a great layout for customers. Placing a monorail, for example, is a lesson in tedium as each map has pinch points that restrict the way your guests can flow. The maps are a little too restrictive in my opinion and more space would have been very appreciated.
The only resource management in the game is currency and to some degree the power in the park. You can add a power station, substation and power lines but there is nothing exciting here and I would have preferred to see some sort of underground power solution instead of the overhead cables spoiling my parks.
It’s very hard to gauge how your visitors are feeling and in turn how to improve the park to increase the money you are making from the guests. You cannot click guests to discover what they want or what they want to see and so it comes down to reading the reports which is a shame from a gameplay standpoint.
It would be nice to have arenas to show off the dinosaurs so that you can see how many guests are in the park. After completing each park by increasing its star rating a new, usually smaller and harder to manage island unlocks and offers you the chance to find increasingly obscure dinosaurs like the Chungkingosaurus or everyone’s favourite Sauropelta.
Whilst I really like and will still play Jurassic World Evolution I wanted more from the game. I was hoping to play a deep and rewarding park management game with Dinosaurs, proper park management and creative building and instead, I got an oversimplified version of Planet Coaster.
Jurassic World Evolution is a still a must buy. As dinosaur games go it is one of the best around but I think that it does not live up to its potential and that, like so many games before it, is the real shame here.
- Gameplay - 68%68%
- Graphics - 93%93%
- Sound - 91%91%
- Longevity - 73%73%
- Value - 64%64%
A fabulously flawed game that you will frustrate you with love for its potential.