Back in the 90’s I lost count of the hours I put into games like Theme Park, Theme Hospital and later, the Rollercoaster Tycoon franchise, more recently Planet Coaster on the PC fulfills most of a park managers dreams, but on console’s there’s very limited choice.
Jurassic World: Evolution doesn’t just bring a decent park builder to consoles, it gives Jurassic Park fans the chance to finally create their very own Jurassic Park.
Heading into the game your greeted by the recognisable voice of Jeff Goldblum as Dr Malcolm, but I found his voice about ten times more annoying and nowhere near as fluent as his usual performances, there’s also voices of other characters in the franchise, mostly by impersonating voice-actors, and while the voice acting overall isn’t too bad the likeness isn’t quite so good.
On the first of 6 islands (5 story and one sandbox) you’ll be introduced to the relatively basic park building mechanics, paths, walls and buildings all fall into place without too many troubles, and you’ll only have to make sure a building has a connected pathway and power thanks to power lines and substations scattered around the park.
Relying on powering your buildings and fences plays into the hands of the later areas of the game when you’re dealing with dinosaur breakouts, storms and power-cuts, but sadly it’s the journey to that point which provides the most daunting task.
With just over 40 dinosaurs, you’ll find a pretty even split between carnivores and herbivore’s, once you have them, you can mix certain species, fulfil happiness of each by providing assets like similar dino’s, tree’s and water and pay a visit to the area on a jeep or in a helicopter to photograph and feed them, but the real problem starts as soon as you’re trying to acquire the dinosaurs.
You’ll have to send a group to parts of the world to find fossils, then you’ll have to research said fossils and slowly increase the genome rating until you can create the specific dinosaur, this all costs money and due to starting with such a small park, you’ll find funds take quite some time to replenish.
Without any option to skip or speed-up time, it’s quite annoying puling together the finances and resources to get your park populated, and the novelty of driving/flying around to pass time, soon starts to wear thin.
Once you’ve endured these early stages a few times and moved onto the latter islands, you’ll find more of a challenge from the various disasters which spring up more often than in the movies, but between now and then, I found myself intentionally releasing a carnivore and challenging myself to tranquillize him before he took a chunk out of my customers and earnings.
The concept of creating and running your very own Jurassic Park is exciting at least, but with only a limited selection of options for buildings and park layout, it’s somewhat underwhelming compared to the endless options found in more full park simulations games such as Planet Coaster and knowing the same team is behind both games it’s sad to say I expected so much more from Jurassic World: Evolution.
Graphically it’s certainly a step in the right direction, Dinosaurs look great the parks are well presented, islands packed with detail and even zooming right up to the dinosaurs give a detailed view of life inside the park. Visitors to the park don’t quite carry the same level of detail, both aesthetically and as individual people, but considering it’s very much Planet Coaster Lite with a large helping of dinosaurs it’s certainly not below what the rest of the game offers.
The same can be said for the sound which is mostly immersive except for those few artificial sounding voice actors (Goldblum included).
I have enjoyed Jurassic World, but being a fan of Planet Coaster, I expected so much more, Evolution is certainly one of the best park builders on the Xbox One, but that’s from a very limited selection, fans looking for a console port of Planet Coaster will only find disappointment, but those looking to fill their Jurassic dream are likely to get their value with Jurassic Park: Evolution.